So I have a one off contract opportunity for a business my brother works for that's been floating around for a couple years, worth a decent penny and unseemingly difficult. It's a nine task job but only four of them actually require any developement time the rest are communication between dev and client. We're going to be given a year to complete, give or take a month of testing, communication delays and implementation. Now my programming experience is unfortunately dated
and my web design is just as dated but not as well studied, but at a glance it should be clean cut and smooth. Except no.
So here's my problem, I'll break down the tasks that matter while being brief;
Task 1: Compile 200+ seperate spreadsheets into one main table. Done
Task 2: Create a website that references the newly compiled database for online viewing. Done
Task 3: Create a search that pulls data from the database at the users command, while being flexible and unnecessarily difficult. Started by hamfisting code
Task 4: Add bells and whistles, search queries optioned to call up google maps for visualizing the data and others. Not done
So here's my problem. Task 1 was easily finished with Microsoft Access. Task 2 was proven to be a pain and might be ripped down then started fresh. So before I continue on I'll explain Task 2.
The database as of this moment is sitting as a Microsoft Access Database. The database itself is more a glossary of static data that we want a user to call up on command, not a database that could be easily adjusted by the user just one maintained on an administer level. It's job isn't to adjust data on the fly that most books I've read like to assume, it's just a reference guide really. So I read online that SQL Databases are usually better suited for web based design, and I started to research SQL. I purchased a SQL book that was actually leading me to build a SQL server not just a database, as I've said the data is already compiled, just looking to drop it in so to speak, the server handling is someone else's job. So for now we've run with a MS DB that shaped up decently by using MS Visual Web Developer, although you can't sort the table at all which sucks. So done, although probably not a good foundation.
Task 2 as of right now we have a simple page that queries the two columns that matter the most using drop down boxes which is all the search is really going to need based on the data we're querying. But the way the tutorials I've found that has given me any success uses the GUI's tools more than instructs me to adjust the code or give me any syntax what so ever, and that being the biggest problem.
We've gone through 3 different books for setting up our plan of attack and at least 3 different web design compilers, yet we can't manage to break the fold. The books we've found have been out of date showing code that doesn't work anymore, or using tools inside the compiler that have been omitted in the lastest build. I first tried MS SQL Server but like I said it had me building a server, not what we need. My only success has been with MS Visual Web Developer but doesn't allow me to build a site on the fly to compare with my colleagues and it seems not really powerful enough, so we might look at MS Web Expression but we don't have the job yet so, coming up with $300 capital for a program we might not want or need isn't appealing. Recently we tried the new Dreamweaver and once we found that we had to build our own HTTP local server and use specific call protocol to create a database web page, we decided to explore other options.
Now maybe one of those compilers is the way to go, the problem is I don't know if or which will work. The documentation and books for web design are a joke. The authors either don't go into syntax or they take a lot of assumpation on what you know. Nevermind that the few I've read have editoral errors in the code. But most damning of all, they all skim the surface of web site database design, only having you attach the main table to the site and telling you to swim.
Since we don't have the job yet should we abandon ship? Problem being we have been paid by a higher up for starting capital that we need to pay back. Are we too far gone from new coding that this is merely over our heads? I wouldn't like to think so. Is the major issue we're buying books from Barnes and Noble and not buying college textbooks? We've considered that. Or are we screwing up what we want by looking for books with Database Web Design, not maybe just web design, or just look up Visual Basic / Visual C books? Another thought we had.
So I don't know, every approach, every avenue I've taken seems to make this harder than it really needs to be or so it seems. Just looking for a good book (hopefully something that doesn't have for Dummies or Step by Step in it, those are a disgrace to the pages they are wasted on) and compiler I should stick with. I didn't like MySQL because it felt loose
and unstructured. Can't use MS Visual Studios because it's a PoS and deletes my templates everytime I open the damn thing.TL;DR
: A group of guys and I can't build a database website, we suck. Various things we have tried didn't work. Commercial book stores carry crap in paperback that takes liberties in what you know and don't dive into the code. The database is only there to reference data not build and compile on the fly as most of those books would have you create. The best way I can describe what we're building is a greatly stripped down search engine like www.wowhead.com
. We're just building the site not doing any of the admin work or assessment of the servers it will be put on.
If any of you super web coding savvy gentle sirs or ladies have any advice or a general direction I should look at, I'd greatly appreciate it.