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In my entire life, I think I can honestly say that the single most annoying task (and the one I am worst at), is maintaining an updated list of the addresses, phone numbers and birthdays of all of my friends, family and colleagues.
At one point I believe I made a concerted effort to gather and enter just about all of the addresses and phone numbers into an online database that was synced with my new Motorola Android. For a while it worked well, and my Android even synced up with Facebook, so anyone that typed their contact information in Facebook would get loaded into my Droid. It was pretty sweet.
But, as time went on – as usual – I just ran out of available time to update the list. My wife maintained her own paper-based book filled with all of our family contacts, but after a while my personal digital system was completely out of date. I lost my password to that long-lost web-based app, and at one point I wiped my phone while testing out new ROM installs. I suppose I could find that web app and reload the contacts, but I know everything is out of date and it would be a chore to refresh it all.
Lately I’ve been looking for an alternative to using a computer application or a mobile app to maintain a contact database. I believe I found the perfect solution – a web-based PHP application called PHP Address Book.
Access Your Family Address Book Server From Anywhere
Like the other PHP apps that I’ve covered here at MakeUseOf, the beauty of PHP Address Book is that once you install it on your home “server”, you can access your database of contacts from anywhere in the house, and from any device. Connect to your address book with your mobile phone, your laptop, your desktop – everyone in the house can instantly connect to the database to update contacts or to look up information. It’s probably the most convenient solution that works for everyone in the family at once.
Setup is also a breeze. As is standard with PHP apps, you need to have a web server running. Consider installing XAMPP or Uniform Server. Both come with phpMyAdmin included, where you can quickly add a new address book database and a user/password with full access.
Next, download all of the files to your web server and place them into a subdirectory where you want your application to run from. Use the SQL file that comes with the download package called “addressbook.sql” to copy and paste the SQL query into the field in the SQL tab on your database. Once you run the SQL script, it’ll create all of the tables and structure that the application needs.
The next step is to open up the config.php file and edit it with the database name, user and password that you’ve just created in phpMyAdmin. Also, if you happen to have a Google Maps key – you can add it in this file as well, but it isn’t required.
Don’t forget to add an admin password in the config file as well. That’s all it takes, now you can visit your new online address book database at http://your-web-domain/phpaddressbook/
The following main screen will show up.
This is your empty address book. While my solution is to load this on a web server PC right at home, you could always load this app on your web host if you like, so that you can access your address book from anywhere in the world.
Click on “add new” to create your first contact entry. The entry form has all of the information you’d expect for an address book – address, phone numbers, email addresses and birthdays. Yes, that means once you’re done you’ll never forget another birthday again, and you’ll never lose your contact information because your Address Book is only a click away.
Here’s what the main screen looks like once you’ve got a few contacts loaded.
The icons on the right side let you quickly access different formats – for example you can print out a quick contact card for the person, click on the pencil to edit the contact info, or click on the car icon to check out where the person lives on Google Maps.
My favorite feature of the application is the “next birthdays” feature. I’m constantly forgetting birthdays – it’s horrible! Now, all I have to do is put a shortcut in my browser to my Address Book “next birthdays” page – and voila. I can now check all of the upcoming birthdays on one single webpage.
Do you want a quick printout of all of your contacts in a compact format that’ll fit on just a few sheets of paper? Just click the address book printout tool and you’ll see a printable view of all of the addresses in your contacts list.
Overall, installing this address book server app either on your own private web server or on your public web host will make the whole process of staying connected with people a heck of a lot easier. Forget about maintaining addresses, emails and birthdays in all different places. Why does every person in the family maintain their own contact list? Collaborate together and centralize your contacts list into a family web-based address book – it’ll make staying in touch a lot easier.
Give PHP Address Book a try and see if it helps you better organize your contacts. Let us know what you think of the PHP app in the comments section below!