I have a MySQL database which is the lifeblood of my company. It consists of hundreds of thousands of records. The software we use is very limited in its ability to perform a lot of custom tasks so I recently took it upon myself to learn SQL.
Over the years, I've attempted to learn many languages but considering that my main job is to run a company, I usually spend a few weeks or months taking online classes, do a few sample projects and put it on hold. This has left me with a lot of basic understanding of programming and syntax but no language that I'm proficient in beside SQL.
Learning SQL was one of the best decisions I've ever made because the restrictions my software placed on my access to my database was absurd now that I have the magic powers to run custom queries. It has also been much easier than I expected and incredibly rewarding and fun to learn.
I've managed to use custom SQL queries to automate a lot of my tasks with one large exception- letter generation.
There are 3 main letters that we send out here:
- Validation of Debt (Dunning Notice)
- Payment Plan Arrangement
- Paid in Full Letter
I have letter templates and I know how to access the fields from my SQL database.
My software has the ability to generate letters in a very sloppy, time-consuming and obnoxious way that requires about 10 steps of human intervention. It uses SQL queries that exports fields to a spreadsheet and then runs mail merge between excel and MS word. That explanation of how it works leaves out a LOT of flaws it has that are too numerous to count and also requires more explanation than it's worth.
I know the logic and the SQL, and I have the templates for these letters. This is what I'm hoping someone on this subreddit can help me to figure out.
My goal is to create the letters I need to send out in large batches of dozens of letters at once. I don't care if the program inputs the letters into MS Word, Google Sheets, WordPad, or even HTML. It just needs to have some very minor formatting. I don't mind copying and pasting the text from the output to email if I need to.
At some point down the line, I'd like to look into mailgun integration to create a program where I can just type in the file numbers (or import a csv containing the file number and letter type) and have the emails sent but I know that I have more skills to learn before that is going to be possible.
I am willing to write a program in a language that I have a basic understanding of, it could give me a nice project to work on that teaches me practical skills, but I'm looking for even a rudimentary way (or the quickest path of skills to learn) to make letter generation a reality. It will ultimately save me countless hours.
Also, if there is software that already exists to perform this task, I just can't find it.
What would you recommend?
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