Populate DropDowns with jQuery and CodeIgniter

UPDATE: I’ve updated this post with a more comprehensive walkthrough, more code examples, and a downloadable archive that contains all the relevant files.  It’s located here: More AJAX Dropdowns with CodeIgniter

CodeIgniter is my first choice for PHP rapid development frameworks. It’s lightweight, powerful, and easy to use. However there are a few common tasks that are not documented as well as they could be. For instance, populating the options in a dropdown select field using AJAX is certainly possible, but you’ll search long and hard before finding a good tutorial or a recipe for actually doing it.

While creating a dynamic form for a client’s project database, I had to figure out how to query the database using AJAX and populate several form fields based on the results of that query. So, for posterity’s sake, I’ve decided to document exactly how I accomplished it. First of all, this method uses CodeIgniter version 1.7.3. For the AJAX functionality, I use jQuery version 1.4.2. The database is MySQL with InnoDB tables.

Now, the application that I’m discussing here is basically a project management app with CRM functions. For this specific form, the user has to assign a “Client” to a project. Based on which Client is assigned, the user can choose a “Contact” for the project. So, the initial form is loaded with all “Clients” who already exist in the database (A future post will detail how I handle dynamically adding a new Client from the form). When the user chooses a Client from the “Client” dropdown, an AJAX request is made to the CodeIgniter controller to retrieve all of the contacts associated with that Client. The AJAX response is then used to populate the “Contacts” dropdown.
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One less free online web meeting tool

For all of the small business owners out there who rely on online webinar or web meeting tools, your choices just got smaller. DimDim, which was arguably the leader in online web meeting tools, was just purchased by SalesForce.com. Purchased for an estimated $31 million (US), the DimDim team has a lot to be happy about, but this does leave a lot of small business users in the lurch.
One of the great things about DimDim, was the availability of a free plan which allowed users to host limited web meetings and webinars. Unfortunately, with the purchase by SalesForce.com, this option is no longer available. The announcement was sent out today to all registered users and contains very little hope for fans of DimDim.
Essentially, DimDim will end all service on March 15th of this year. No extensions, no excuses, no exceptions. I for one am currently searching for a replacement for the free DimDim webinar service, and will update this post when and if I find one.