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  1. #1
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    Re-building a database portal site; ASP/MS-SQL or PHP/MySQL?

    Hi.

    I'm another struggling dot-comer who's in the process of re-building (databasing) a 3 and a half year old community portal that has mostly perl/cgi flat-file based features, no membership (except for everyone.net freemail which I don't like) with some commercial chat applications running for the visitors.

    What I'm trying to do is:

    1. build a membership database system for registering/authenticating users
    2. a database driven forum system that will work with a separate membership database
    3. replace everyone.net email system with an in-house web-mail system (no co-branding, no abuse with their advertisement, 1 unified sign-up for my entire site)
    4. add additional functionalities such as auctions, homepage (geo-city like) builders, messenger, etc.

    In other words, I'm trying to (re)build a complete community portal site (multiple servers) with a central membership database that registers members and authenticates the use of features such as forums, auctions, web-mail (hotmail-like free one), etc.

    Platform isn't really an issue for me because I have both RH/Linux/Apache+PHP+MySQL and Win2K Adv.Server (I'm getting MS-SQL server next week). Although I'd prefer using RH server (on a fatter piped co-location rack) than Win2K server (on T1) for bandwidth issues, if ASP/MS-SQL solution beats PHP/MySQL, I could go with Win2K. However, either way, I'll still be running both boxes (and possibly more) for other reasons (existing features that are platform specific) so a hybrid solution (e.g., membership database on win2k and heavy load features on linux) will work nicely for me too.

    I've been doing quite a bit of research on this subject lately but can't seem to make up my mind due to the lack of my technical knowledge and experience. I'd greatly appreciate y'all guru's tips.

    Here's what I've looked at and had eyes on so far:

    Web-mail (hotmail-like free service):

    Imail (Win32 only, by Ipswitch, supports ODBC) server with an automated sign-up add-on. I already have Imail server and am using it for internal use (I love it so far). I haven't found a competitive alternative though... any ideas?

    Forum:

    PhpBB (free, php, mysql only)
    Snitz (free, asp, flexible database: sql, mysql, etc.)
    Vbulletin (costs a bit, php, mysql only)

    User registration/management:

    This is where I'm really stuck... I've seen quiet a few scripts for both PHP/MySQL and ASP/MS-SQL but can't seem to figure out which is going to work the best for my need (central membership database over multiple servers).
    I've looked at story-sharing portals systems out there such as PHP Nuke and its alikes but it is not really what I'm trying to do. I don't need skin-based, uniformed, nor news-sharing features. Plus none of them seems to nicely integrate with an in-house web-mail server (as said, I'm trying to replace everyone.net service with my own). I just need DATABASE INTEGRATION.

    I'm sure some of you out there have done a similar work in the past and wonder if I could follow a successful trail.

    Thanks very much in advance.
    Last edited by dave_la; Jul 6, 2001 at 16:16.
    help help, i'm hungy~~~

  2. #2
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    If I read you correctly, you are planning to get ready made parts and then integrate them?

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your reply.

    Yes, that is precisely what i'm trying to do.
    I'm wondering if anyone out there has used a user managment system such as those available on hotscripts.com:

    http://www.hotscripts.com/PHP/Script...uthentication/
    http://www.hotscripts.com/ASP/Script...uthentication/

    and integrated them with other scripts (e.g., snitz, vbulletin, etc.) with a minor mod in config file, let's say.

    In other words, instead of using snitz's or vbulleting's internal member database and signup feature, can any of the systems use external member database? If so, which ones are the best duo / combo?

    I guess one other way of doing it would be to use snitz's or vbulletin's member database / signup feature as THE CENTROL MEMBER DATABASE that governs (authenticates and passes userid/pw to) other scripts (web-mail server, autions, etc).

    Has anyone done this and had success with it?
    If so, could you please provide me with your tips?

    Thanks!
    help help, i'm hungy~~~

  4. #4
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    I thought I should add a couple of lines just to make myself clearer.

    Basically, the keyword is [one signup for the entire site].

    Say, that you offer free e-mail, forums, auctions, etc. on your community type portal website. You can't use multiple member database for a single website. If a user signs up, he/she should be able to log in ONCE and use all the features that are available on the site.

    Which script (be it a forum script or a stand along user authentication script) would be the best candidate for that?
    I guess the format of the script's membership database should be somewhat standard and straight-forward so that it could be easily accessed by other scripts w/o having to heavily hack each and every script to use the database.

    I hope I made myself clearer this time.

    Thanks again.
    help help, i'm hungy~~~

  5. #5
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    How much traffic will you need to handle?

    Thats what it comes down to.

    MS SQL is an enterprise level db. MySQL is not. So while MySQL is great for medium sized sites, if you're a larger site you'll want to use something bigger.

    So how will you measure your traffic, in the thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions?
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  6. #6
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    I get about 20 million page views / m.
    help help, i'm hungy~~~

  7. #7
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Thats a pretty large chunk of traffic. You would probably want to stay away from MySQL with that. During peak traffic times it would have some problems.

    So you could use MS SQL but if you wanted a linux server (Which lets face it, is better) you could use a DB like Sybase.

    As for integrating scripts. I've integrated phpBB's authentication with the rest of a site. Took me the better half of a day because I had to learn how the backend of phpBB was set up but otherwise it wasn't hard at all.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  8. #8
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    Per your tip, I guess I should stay away from MySQL. (of course, I want my site to keep growing so I should go with something that can handle even future traffic).

    I don't think I can use Sybase but I'm getting MS-SQL in the coming week. To go with MS-SQL for the member database, which scripts do you recommend?

    As far as forum script goes, I guess I won't be able to use Vbulletin nor PhpBB (not until they release 2.0 which they say will support a variety of databases including MS-SQL).
    Is my only option then Snitz? I was hoping to host the forum on a Linux server and have it talk to the MS-SQL member database on a win2k server for bandwidth issues... but well, if it's the only way, I guess I'll have to live with it.
    (and I don't have budget for chillisoft ASP).

    Snitz obviously support MS-SQL database (so does Imail, as far as I know) but my question would be [can other scripts (php based) talk to a remote MS-SQL database?] If anyone's done this, could you let me know which scripts they were and how it's done?


    Thanks again.
    help help, i'm hungy~~~

  9. #9
    SitePoint Guru
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    Hmm, I haven't much experience with these ready made solutions, except once when we took a freeware ASP forum, modified it to use our own membership engine and also COM-ed it along the way.

    If I remember correctly, the whole process took less than a week, and the guy was not working on it the whole time. I would think that most ready made scripts won't be much more complex, but since you are going into some multi-platform integration, you might run into other difficulties.

  10. #10
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    You could conceivably do this..

    I was hoping to host the forum on a Linux server and have it talk to the MS-SQL member database on a win2k server for bandwidth issues... but well, if it's the only way, I guess I'll have to live with it.
    But it'd require alot of vb hacking to do so and it might slow things down.

    Why can't you use Sybase?
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  11. #11
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    I can't use Sybase because:

    1. I have $0 budget (maybe a couple of hundreds for a script, e.g., a forum or an auction) at the moment.
    2. I've already purchased MS-SQL 2000
    3. If I go with MS-SQL, I've got a friend who's willing to help me out with building databases and he only knows MS stuff (SQL and Access).

    Of course, I'll need to learn the database solution that I get to choose myself but I figured, especially because I'm not a programmer, I should learn one of the most widely used ones (MS-SQL, MySQL, or Oracle) investing a rather limited time and it'd be much helpful to have someone with knowledge, in this case, the mentioned friend with MS-SQL experience, who could help me just-start.

    I thought I'd be able to get a clear direction more easily here since that is what most portals are doing [i.e., 1 database server for member authentication (MS passport, Yahoo ID) and multiple content servers (games, auctions, forums, shop, etc.)], that is. And you folks seem very knowledgebal when it comes to database stuff. Of course, I'm ONLY taking about centrally stored MEMBER database, not content database.

    But it'd require alot of vb hacking to do so and it might slow things down.
    Would it still slow things down noticeably (I know it won't be as fast, of course) like you said if the only thing it needs to do is to pass the information (that the userID/pw has been verified when he/she logged in and the ID is 'this') to each script, say via cookie control / SQL verification (not every time they load a page, only when they first enter into a new script, rite?)?
    help help, i'm hungy~~~

  12. #12
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    It'd slow things down because you'd need to be accessing two servers for a variety of tasks. How much would depend on alot of things but it would probably be pretty noticeable.

    As for Sybase you can get a free version of it, only the most recent released version costs money.

    Check out this thread:


    http://www.sitepointforums.com/showt...threadid=23406

    As for your friend... unless he only uses databases via a wizard like frontpage he should still be able to help you quite a bit. All the coding will be the same for the most part, only the database connection strings would have different information in their parameters and some of the SQL may change (I say may, most dbs stick to the standards) but otherwise it'd be the same.

    MS SQL is a good db and all, but if you can find a solution on a *nix server it'd be better IMO.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  13. #13
    SitePoint Enthusiast Rips's Avatar
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    Go with ASP/MS-SQL. This is for serveral reasons:

    For the traffic load your looking at, an enterprise db is best suited.

    Your looking a using a choice of apps, many of which run on Win 2000.

    The mail s/w your looking at using runs on Win32 so it'll be easier to integrate with an ASP based portal.

    Snitz forum is easy, fast, and feature-rich. Its is open source, written in ASP, and isn't difficult to modify to bring into the rest of your site.

    A User-Registration and management facility can be easily coded in PHP, but since the above is all done using ASP it would best to go for that.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Columnist Skunk's Avatar
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    A good alternatice for web based e-mail is GossamerMail from www.gossamer-threads.com - it runs on Perl and mySQL and can tie into any authentication system you like from what I've heard.


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