Questions about site development...

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by junker, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. junker macrumors 6502

    junker

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
    Location:
    An obtuse corner of the Triangle
    #1
    I am returning to school in my late 30's in web technologies - coming from an arts background.

    I'm taking a "Programming & logic" class and a "HTML, XHTML, Javascrpting class". Thinking about taking a Database class this summer - and as I've been told, the class focuses on MS Access for database interaction.

    Today a classmate and I were talking about the lack of learning the big picture of building a site for a client.

    For example, as a potential freelance web site builder, is it common to be expected to build the database for the client? And what about setting up shopping carts and secure online purchasing? Is this a seperate plugin module or premade component to buy off the web?

    I guess our ignorance lay in the fact that we're not clear in the workflow process of setting up a medium-sized company (1-50 employees) site that has purchase and shopping.

    Another topic we were trying to figure out - Lets say your building a fairly complicated site for a band schedules, cd purchases, sample download, clickable music stream, maybe a fan forum. Is it expected that I would maintain their content or is there a way to allow them to update it themselves fairly easily?

    And I'm not even going to get into the questions regarding pricing all this.... :)

    If anyone can add some insight, I would really appreciate it!
     
  2. belvdr macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    #2
    For the database part, it depends on the size and what it is for. If the database is for a lightweight external web site only, then maybe you or someone else could do it. If the web site is going to be heavily taxed, ask a professional's help.

    If you are talking a large database, I would leave that to a database professional as well. Intricate knowledge of how the database actually works can ensure success. Assuming how it works can cause colossal failure.

    That said, the one thing I can recommend is when querying the database, query only the columns you need. Although there are times for it, always using a 'select *' is a lazy way out, is very inefficient, and can cause issues in the future.
     
  3. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #3
    Yeah, it really depends on the specific situation. It can cover the entire spectrum. You may be able to download a shopping cart web app and integrate from that, or you may need to build from scratch. You'll generally need to lay out any DB that will be used unless it's setup via a downloaded web app (like WordPress for instance), but you should definitely understand how to read the DB.

    I'm not a fan of MS Access for, especially for a web app unless you're doing .Net development then it makes somewhat more sense. I'd recommend learn MySQL as well as it's more common.

    Using pre-made apps does have the downfall that you are limited to the feature set it comes with, so if it doesn't meet your clients needs you're out of luck. And sometimes you don't find out about all of the client's needs until you're nearly done with the app and have to work backwards then. Clients are fun like that.
     
  4. junker thread starter macrumors 6502

    junker

    Joined:
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    #4
    Yeah we were wondering about Access.... personally I'm not a big .Net fan so I was thinking about MySql as well.

    And personally I would prefer to learn how to build this functionality into the site as opposed to relying on what you just described... However, I'm not interested in becoming a heavy programmer! What do I need to know to do that?
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #5
    Is the another school near you. Seriously.

    They are not doing the student any favour for using Javascript as their teaching language, even worse to use Access as an example of a DBMS. The trouble is not just that these are simple low, level but that they lack the features that need to be taught. Students will think they understand the basics of programming and databases when they will not even know what "transaction" means.

    About the advice to "learn MySQL". No. that's wrong. Learn about "Relational Databases" the the theory behind them. MySQL is just one example of a Relational Database. There are many and they are all based on the same ideas. The hard part about databases to learn is how to think in terms of relational queries, to understand how joins work and table normalazation and so on. The worst mistake you can do is to go off and design a database without knowing any of this stuff.

    When you build a web site the biggest thing to think about is the amount of traffic. If the site IS the business it will need a huge amount of traffic to pay for itself. Not on,y that it will be carrying lots of data like credit card numbers and account balances so if you screw it up you could be on the hook for large sums of money if orders or information is lost. Typically you do not build these sites from scratch. The people who build them have considerable experience and education

    If you are building a site to describe your bussiness and show it off to prospective customers then it is much easier.

    You best bet is to learn just a little bit about the "nuts and bolts" and then apply your design and srt skill in partnership with someone who understands how to actually build the site.
     
  6. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #6
    The OP mentions two separate classes. I don't believe the programming class is using JavaScript. I see a lot of classes using Access unfortunately and have reviewed some of the books for professors. It seems one of the biggest reasons for using Access in class is the simplicity of using it and getting quick results.

    Theory is definitely good to learn, but you also have to practice the theory, which is why I suggested MySQL.
     
  7. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

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    #7
    Never a good reason if you ask me.

    PostgreSQL may actually be a better database to work with theory wise as it is an ORDMS.
     
  8. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

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    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #8
    Can you elaborate on why? I've never used PostreSQL so don't know how it compares. I usually suggest MySQL because there's so many tutorials out there, but seems be a bit lesser amount of other DB material.
     
  9. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000

    SrWebDeveloper

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    Dec 7, 2007
    Location:
    Alexandria, VA, USA
    #9
    The O in ORDMS (or ORDBMS) is object, i.e. object oriented - which is the way students are taught to think when coding via OOP languages such as Java, PHP, *.net, etc. MySQL is not better, it's just better known in the open source community which includes PostgreSQL ("the worlds most advanced open source database" says the company). This speaks to the overall open source community which is much larger than when alot of the college text books were written (key point).

    Schools are slowly changing over to accepting the open source initiative because the government is doing it, rich web 2.0 uses alot of open source development, and it's more socially acceptable. The economic benefits speak for themselves. But the point is, the old "Access because the text book is standard and MS has cheap licenses and it's basic ANSI SQL" is being replaced by better and more practical ORDBMS's. And on top of all that is Oracle and PL/SQL which I learned in college and helped me a great deal in my professional life.

    I suggest students learn Access, any RDBMS, and Oracle,PL/SQL in school if possible (or on their own) and learn OOP from Java or any flavor of C. Then learning MySQL/PHP is a piece of cake. But it all depends on the budget of the school, if they support open source initiative or not, and if the IT department there is still running IBM 386's and Apple Lisa's if you get my point.

    -jim
     
  10. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816

    ChicoWeb

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    Aug 16, 2004
    Location:
    California
    #10
    I've noticed that a lot of the students coming out of college have backgrounds w/ Microsoft (.NET, SQL). From my experiences as a small business owner, most small business lean towards open source MySql and most major companies lean towards proprietary Windows and SQL. Access is laughable, but I'm sure they are just trying to start you somewhere. I guess it really depends where you see yourself. With Microsoft technology comes licensing, compiled code, and IMHO less design firms use it. It's a major pain for us when someone needs anything done on their previous existing ASP or ASP.NET site.
     
  11. savar macrumors 68000

    savar

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    Jun 6, 2003
    Location:
    District of Columbia
    #11
    Most clients aren't even going to understand the distinction you're making between 2nd-tier and 3rd-tier development; so, yes, you will be expected to implement a database schema as part of your overall obligation to "just make it work".

    If you can't do the work yourself, then find somebody who can and bid on projects together.

    PS. Don't use Access for a website database. Learn MySQL or Oracle. Access is a toy.
     
  12. junker thread starter macrumors 6502

    junker

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
    Location:
    An obtuse corner of the Triangle
    #12
    Sorry for the delayed response - thanks everyone for the detailed information - this has been precisely what I was lacking.

    As for the colleges in the area - I do have some options, and I've been giving thought/research to them.

    Another friend was describing how to utilize various open source tools like: Joomla, Magento, Mootools, Jquery.


    Does anyone use these?

    Thanks
     
  13. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 13, 2008
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    #13
    yes. The tools you have listed serve to augment the types of development skills you are looking to get. They do not simplify the learning curve much but once you have a strong foundation in xhtml/css/js/php tools like the ones you mentioned make life much easier.

    personally I am a fan of Drupal and jquery. I would also look beyond prebuilt CMS systems to frameworks like codeigniter...
     
  14. junker thread starter macrumors 6502

    junker

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
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    An obtuse corner of the Triangle
    #14
     

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