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soozyq

Do I Need A Database?

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Hi All,I am about to start doing a website for a local community center which is going to have a large amount of info and a high turnover of news. What would be the best method of handling all of the information? Databases? (I only started learning web design this year and I am doing it for free). I have put a link to a similar site to give an idea of what I hope to achieve. http://www.familyresource.ie/The w3schools tutorials are great so if anyone could point me in the right direction I would be most grateful.Thanks in advance

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Yes, a database would be recommended.

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Ah, i was in Galway just a couple months ago on vacation . . . if I am to make rather standard assumptions, then yes, a database would be most likely recommended. However, one question I'd have to ask is, who is going to be doing the updates?If you are doing this to turn over to the community center staff, then you will need some sort of administration interface/process they can handle. In that case, you might start by finding just how internet savvy they are - if at all. On the otherhand, if you manage to work a deal (or already did) where you will be maintaining the updates, then you're technical expertise (acquired yet or not) can be worked into the assumptions.Having said all that, you could, technically, make an HTML and CSS website that reads its content from XML. Therefore, all you'd have to do is maintain the XML files yourself. Yes, you could accomplish the same thing by not introducing XML and just manage the HTML pages individually. But, if you are working with a server side scripting language (coldfusion, php, asp, .net) then you can take advantage of all the functionality they offer and rarely, if ever, touch the HTML templates.To give you an example, I've build several small applications (to avoid depending on my database team at work) that use XML for content. I built a simple administration tool pulls records into web forms and then rewrites the content back into the XML files on the server.For simple - not complex - data, this has worked wonderfully, especially since I can read the XML file into an object in memory on the first page load. This makes each page hit so much faster.Anyway - you've got to figure out how much data is going to change and how often. The other consideration is to find yourself a pre-build content management system (CMS) that you just install and apply a few graphical elements too. (that would use a database too)

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Hi SkemcinThanks for your reply. Can't believe you were in Galway recently. It is a cool city. Im a blow-in myself but live the place.The idea is that when the site is finished the community centre staff will be updating the information themselves. They are apparently computer savvy but there is a lot of basic stuff they don't seem to know.. I have never tried to use XML yet but I will have a look at the tutorials. I only started HTML in January so I am on a steep learning curve. The hosting company that they have gone with offers a free database application MySQL. Again I have not used this but could that be set up to receive all the information as it is updated? They also offer a content management system (Joomla, Drupal, Typo3), would you have any experience in using these? If so which would you recommend for a novice like myself.Anyway thanks again for all the info.Sooz

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SoozI'll admit that you are in a little bit of a tight spot. I don't want to sound bold or harsh by saying you are in over your head but it is a little bit of a tall order if the Community Center wants to be able to manage their own content and this is your first project. But if I can teach my self everything I know and eventually have made a living out of it, I am the absolute confidence that anyone else can.Having said that, the safest thing to do is to use a pre-built content management system - especially if the hosting service will help with the setup. The database will indeed be the storage place for the content. Joomla, Drupal, and Typo3 are pre-built CMS applications that use server-side scripting languages (coldfusion, php, asp,.net - not HTML) to interact with the database.As far as personal experience, I can't stand Joomla, have limited (but not frustrating) experience with Drupal, and know nothing of Typo3. Drupal is pretty extensible and has a pretty big community (as do the other too) but from what I know you'd be able to find a template to use and should be able to figure out how to incorporate company branding on your site.The HTML, CSS, and maybe even XML you know now and end up learning will be beneficial. The only thing I feel like pointing out is that you're sort-f throwing yourself to the wolves. Again, not a bad thing, just be conscious of it. In other words, most people would start out with a very basic site to get their feet wet. Here, you'll be exposed to rather sophisticated CSS and HTMl templates so it could look rather overwhelming. Just remember that this stuff won't look so foreign to you in a few weeks/months as you learn more about it.Just take your time and ask questions - especially from your host (and this community). All in all, I do think a CMS system is the best way to go. It might be taking the bull by the horns right out of the gate - but its not that bad if you keep your mind in the game.Hope that helps.

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SkemcinThanks again for all the info. It isn't my first site but so far I have not needed to provide CMS for the clients as I am updating their info for them. Every site I have done so far has taught me something new and has seemed like I have had a mountain to climb so I am sure this one will be no different. A bit of a challenge is a good thing and it is what keeps me sane.Im sure I will be posting loads of questions as I go alone. Thanks for your help

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Nice. It sounds like you have a pretty good handle on everything. One way I got started was simply experimenting on my personal website. If you want to introduce yourself to database driven applications, then find and install one of the most basic applications out there - blog software. Set yourself up with your own blog even if you don't link/publish it, download one and get your hosting service to help you install it. That will get your feet wet and without worry about any client.I tend to come and go here - at least when it comes to posting. I monitor the site everyday but I have my waves of participating in conversation - so if you are hoping for or needing my input, just send me a PM.

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