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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot RogueOnTheNet's Avatar
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    Cool Works worth a look?

    Hi,

    I have a friend who's asked about having me build his small genealogy group a website and they want to be able to post databases online that they can both update, allow others to search, and maintain on their computers. None are what you'd call proficient at coding of any kind. The thing is, they're asking if a site can be built that would allow them to use their pre-existing databases.

    Now, the catch is...they all use Microsoft Works. Just happens to be what they all have as it comes on pretty much every Windows box, pre-loaded. My question is, if I create a site for them, will it be possible for me to use standard ODBC and PHP to allow them to do the following:

    1. Someone to upload a Works database (I think they use some .wdb file ending or could use a standard .dbf format) that can be used in conjunction with PHP to output dynamic results.

    2. Someone to edit the database online if need be, through a graphically designed interface.

    I'm fairly new to relational and dynamic databases myself, having mostly used static databases in the past and being more of a designer than developer. I am confident that if it can be done with PHP, I can code it, just not sure if Works will allow me to do what needs to be done. Since they all swap databse files regularly, and they've put a lot of hours into compiling them, that's what they want. I'm not going to get payed...this is a favor for a friend, and I don't really have the time to bone up on MySQL just now though I plan to in the future.

    Just as an aside...I was wondering if anyone else saw any potential in the idea of using Works for databasing on the web? Realistically now...not talking huge eCommerce relational databases, but perhaps for small groups or businesses who simply need to get an inventory online or maintain an employee database.

    A thought hit me when he said, it's what came on everyone's PC... If it could be used as a small relational database, it could make sense to use it in small distributed applications that included a small server and the database file. Just seems if it's usable, it would save people shelling out for Access when they already have Works on their PC. Just curious what others might think...

  2. #2
    + platinum's Avatar
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    Well... I've never played around with a works database, I thought they could only do spreadsheets?

    Now.... works does not come pre installed on just about any computer It has to be bought seperatly.. (unles of course it is bundled in when you buy your computer). It is definatly not supplied as a standard, in fact I can't actually remember the last time I actually saw it even being used

    *technically* i suppose it could be possible, but I wouldn't like to try... how about mySQL ?

  3. #3
    What? Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Originally posted by platinum
    Well... I've never played around with a works database, I thought they could only do spreadsheets?

    Now.... works does not come pre installed on just about any computer It has to be bought seperatly.. (unles of course it is bundled in when you buy your computer). It is definatly not supplied as a standard, in fact I can't actually remember the last time I actually saw it even being used

    *technically* i suppose it could be possible, but I wouldn't like to try... how about mySQL ?
    Compaqs and some dells are more or less standard with them. But thats it
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot RogueOnTheNet's Avatar
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    Cool To clarify...

    Actually, yes, I agree, it's a mis-statement to say it comes on every Windows box these days. But, until a few months back, as a full time tech, all the boxes we sold or worked on for others seemed to have the Microsoft Works Suite installed...especially in most OEM boxes.

    Again, I'm talking about a group here that does largely consist of Gateway, Compaq and other generic mass produced whitebox PC's that generally get the Works Suite installed/bundled with it as you mentioned. I personally have used Works for recipes and such, and it does fine...can even make decent forms and use formula's in it. It's just that Microsoft doesn't publish any support files for Works at all, prefering to get you simply interested in upgrading to Access, as usual...

    I did once use it to generate a databased website (static - generated from info stored in the database and then published by FTP), by creating fields with HTML code snips in it once. Some fields included SSI, and then later PHP includes/snips. Made a fairly manageable website too. The database was exported as a tab delimited text file, so it was raw code seperated by tabs.

    From there, I opened the text file and ran a Word macro on it that seperated the content by finding certain code delimiting file endings and replacing it with nothing (using search and replace in the macro), creating seperate files for each page, spit them out as text files in a directory. From the DOS promt, all text files were renamed to .html and later .shtml and .php, lol.

    I tested it out pretty extensively and it worked solidly. I managed to update, run the macro, spit out, rename and upload 100 pages in no time.

    If it had been esier to use the formulas and you could use larger blocks of text in the data fields (you're limited to 255 characters I believe), I'd have done more with it, but it was something to try. That was a couple years ago...when I would try anything and everything. <g>
    Last edited by RogueOnTheNet; Nov 28, 2001 at 05:29.

  5. #5
    Yugo full of anvils bronze trophy hillsy's Avatar
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    So is it actually a relational database or just a flat file?
    that's me!
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot RogueOnTheNet's Avatar
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    It's relational, just like Access but with fewer features. I'm just not sure if you can use PHP/ODBC to extract information from it online.
    Last edited by RogueOnTheNet; Nov 28, 2001 at 08:00.

  7. #7
    Yugo full of anvils bronze trophy hillsy's Avatar
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    I've never heard of it being done. Though that doesn't mean it can't be

    Why not just use MySQL? You could build some web-based admin forms so they'd never have to even go near the database...
    that's me!
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