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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot thespian's Avatar
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    Hi...

    I am a new member of these forums and am also very new to Web Building (Although I am in IT - Corporate Mainframe Systems!).

    I have recently set up a site for our Community Theatre Group (which is operational if not great - the Web Site that is!) but now I have a problem. I would like to include a DataBase of our members on the Web Page where people can update their own information and administrators can update general information for all - on a password controlled basis.

    What I need to find out is what the best language is to use for this purpose. I have heard mention of ASP and PEARL, but am totally in the dark on the subject of these and other languages.

    Can you guys please advise on what you think and possibly give me a jump-off point from where I can start teaching myself whichever language you recommend?

    Many, Many thanx...
    Bill Conté [Protected by Psalm 91]
    Web Mechanix
    Growing OLD is Mandatory - Growing UP is Optional!

  2. #2
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    At one of SitePoint's content sites (Webmasterbase.com) there is an excellent article on using PHP and MYSQL to add a database to your site. Both of these technologies are free and offered by most Unix/Linux hosts. The article is called "Building a Database-Driven Web Site Using PHP and MySQL" and is located at: http://www.webmasterbase.com/article.php3?aid=228&pid=0

    A warning though it is quite long at approximately 70 pages so it might be more worthwhile to use the "Print This Page" option and make a hard copy of the document. The article assumes you have no knowledge and is very well written. By the time your done with the examples you can create the database you have in mind.
    Wayne Luke
    ------------


  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    I second Wayne's recommendation - that article is a great starting point...

    Also, it's "PERL", not "PEARL". Just pronounced that way...

  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot thespian's Avatar
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    Thanx Wayne... Thanx Chris...

    That is exactly the kind of info I require. One problem though - my ISP unfortunately runs a Windows 2000 environment and they said that PHP and MySQL will not run on their servers. Is this correct?

    If I am unable to use the above, will I be able to use PERL [thx Chris ] in the W2k environment? If so, is there a similar starting point to the one you recommended for PHP that you know of?

    Otherwise, is there something better to use? What about ASP?

    So many questions!!

    Thanx everyone
    Bill Conté [Protected by Psalm 91]
    Web Mechanix
    Growing OLD is Mandatory - Growing UP is Optional!

  5. #5
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    No, Your ISP are incorrect - Both MySQL & PHP will run on windows... but they are probably just too lazy to install them.

    If your host have Perl installed, then you can use it - if not, you cant. Unlike most unix systems, perl is not installed by default on windows... and a port of the software is needed. Its free for download (As are php & mysql) - but the only way to know if you have access to it is to ask your host.

    However, if you are seriously considering setting up a proper database - you need access to a database server... Ask your ISP/host if they are running one -

    I hope this helps.


  6. #6
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Originally posted by thespian
    Thanx Wayne... Thanx Chris...

    That is exactly the kind of info I require. One problem though - my ISP unfortunately runs a Windows 2000 environment and they said that PHP and MySQL will not run on their servers. Is this correct?

    If I am unable to use the above, will I be able to use PERL [thx Chris ] in the W2k environment? If so, is there a similar starting point to the one you recommended for PHP that you know of?

    Otherwise, is there something better to use? What about ASP?

    So many questions!!

    Thanx everyone
    Since your ISP is a Windows Host your best bet would be to use ASP and either SQL Server or Access. It is easier to learn on Access. To start learning ASP check out http://www.asp101.com and http://www.4guysfromrolla.com both of which have some excellent tutorials for beginners. You might also look for the book "Professional ASP 3.0 Programming" from Wrox Press.
    Wayne Luke
    ------------


  7. #7
    SitePoint Zealot thespian's Avatar
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    Thanx a Ton!

    kingQuez - I have spoken to my ISP and they are going to look into loading PHP and MySQL. They do not have a DataBase server at present but my DataBase is going to be VERY small so I do not have any concerns at present. Thanx for all the advice!

    Wayne - I have had a brief glance at the Web Pages you recommended and will search around them for what I need (They are a little intimidating for someone who is as much a novice as me). I may have a little trouble sourcing the book you recommended out here in South Africa but I do have a telephone number of the official Wrox distributor in this part of the world - so maybe I'll get lucky! Thanx for everything.

    In closing - Thank you for all the assistance - I'm pretty sure I will be back soon - and I will be recommending you guys to a great many of my pals.

    Cheers
    Bill Conté [Protected by Psalm 91]
    Web Mechanix
    Growing OLD is Mandatory - Growing UP is Optional!

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    ISP's, as a general rule, don't usually make good web hosts. Bell Atlantic provies 5MB of space usually without PHP, ASP, SQL, or even Perl access! You'd be better off going with a paid host...you can find a good one for around $10 a month.

  9. #9
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Don't forget you can also do it in cold fusion instead of ASP.

    And in my opinion cold fusion is much much much easier to learn than ASP, it really looks alot like html.

    I've written an article on using cold fusion to set up a DB, it's geared towards beginners and can be found here:

    http://www.webdevhq.com/articles/view.php3?id=132

    Chris

  10. #10
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    We all know today that databases are becoming important and your question interested me. Start with PHP because you already have the resources here and the little problems you are going to have will receive prompt attention.

    Do not consider 70 pages as too intimidating because five pages in a day over two weeks will carry you over the whole process.

    And press your ISP so that their server will run it. I am interested in your predicament because i am tackling CGI at the moment and at the end i will attack the issue of a web driven database.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Zealot thespian's Avatar
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    Wow! So many Responses! You guys sure are the greatest!

    Chris [TWTCommish] - Thanx for that advise. I think I have now learned what the difference is between an ISP and a Host. (I told you I was ignorant of these things!) The fact in my case is that I have two agreements with this comapny - one where they are my ISP and the other is a paid for Hosting service. Yes, the differences in services between the two environments is vast! Thanx again.

    Chris [aspen] - I ain't never even heard of cold fusion - but I will be sure to read your article. This just goes to show how much I still have to learn. It's all very confusing and I am not the most patient of people. I have only just learned HTML (about 2 months now) and of course want to know everything there is to know Thanx for the advice. I will contact you if I have questions regarding your article.

    fashola - No - I will not let all this information intimidate me. I am very much probing in the dark jumping around from one proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel" to another. It is all very confusing but I can not begin to tell you how much I have learnt in the past month or so. I would like to know what the results are of your own investigations (when they are complete). Please advise me if you do not mind.

    C.G.I.? What's that? All these Acronyms! Phew! Time to G.T.H.O.O.H. !!

    Doing it in the spotlight!


    Bill Conté [Protected by Psalm 91]
    Web Mechanix
    Growing OLD is Mandatory - Growing UP is Optional!

  12. #12
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    CGI = Common Gateway Interface.

    It's used to be the only way to dynamically generate a webpage. The backend would be a program written in C, C++, Python etc, but most commonly written in Perl.

    It is falling out of use however as people adopt new languages like Cold Fusion, ASP, and PHP, which run much much better and faster. Because of this you will find very few new cgi scripts being developed.

    Chris

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Chris is right.

    One thing to be careful of is not to confuse CGI and Perl. Perl was basically the dominant language for CGI scripts on the web, and many (MANY!) people confuse the two...IE: "Where can I learn CGI?"...they think it's a language. You can write CGI scripts with many languages...

    As for Cold Fusion: it's easier to learn than ASP or PHP, but has disadvantages as well. Most of the time you'll have to use an NT host to make use of Cold Fusion...

    Good luck!

  14. #14
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Actually Cold Fusion does have a new *nix version. So I wouldn't really consider that a downside.

    Technically the only feature present in other languages it doesn't have, that I have noticed anyways, is the ability to create dsn-less connections.

    But then in ASP you cannot dynamically generate SSI's while in CF you can.

    Regardless, if your already hosting on NT/2000 and CF is already installed (meaning you're already paying for it) I think its the best choice to use.

    Chris

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    I did know that it WAS available on Unix, but I thought it was something new and special, sort of like ChilliSoft for ASP use on a Unix server - is that not the case? I could easily be wrong - just the impression I got.

    Anyway, I recommend PHP if you have a bit more time...I think it's more useful than Cold Fusion, but is definetly more demanding of your time.

  16. #16
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    No, there are official cold fusion packages from allaire for both *nix and solaris.

    Chris

  17. #17
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    Thanks a lot and let me say that when we come here we come to learn one or two things. Okay we all know the difference between the ISP and the Host.

    In the first level a person builds a static web page and goes further by adding interactivity to his/her web site by using CGI and JavaScript. Let us leave the first enquiry on carrying a web site further to a good book on "choosing a database for your web site" publishied by Wiley press.

    For clarity CGI is a communication protocol revolving around the elements that you put into your designated CGI-bin in your site uploading process. Let us remember the use of "param and redirect," as specified in the CGI script.

    And one very big level further in the learning process of the articulate webmaster is to make decision on learning PHP and ASP,this as to the facilities available/assembled in the host server decision making process.

    We are all here to make sure that we got some of these details right and thanks a lot for your kind attention.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Originally posted by aspen
    No, there are official cold fusion packages from allaire for both *nix and solaris.

    Chris
    What I meant was: will most UNIX hosts spring for Cold Fusion? I got the impression NT hosts were more willing to...I havn't run across a UNIX host that supports Cold Fusion...I'm sure they're out there, though.

  19. #19
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Probably not many, since it just got released recently.

    Cold Fusion is to Unix what PHP is to NT. While they do work on other platforms good luck finding a host with it installed.

    Chris

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    I see...that's what I thought. I guess, then, that Cold Fusion is technically "available" for UNIX...but it will be awhile before it becomes widespread enough for normal users like myself to make use of it there.

    I do hope it is supported more widely soon...I'd love to learn about it.

  21. #21
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    First server I ever saw with Cold Fusion was in 1995 or 1996 and it was a Sparc workstation running Solaris. This was at Microsoft's Tech-Ed conference. They were demoing the program on a Solaris because the NT version wasn't ready yet but they wanted to be able to take pre-orders.

    I guess the perception of new depends on the viewer.

    TriStar Web hosting advertises as offering Cold Fusion packages on their Sun Workstations with packages starting as low as $8.95. I guess they have been around for a while as they advertises as hosting 140,000 domains.
    Wayne Luke
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  22. #22
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    or try http://www.webexpose.net/
    they have CF hosting, theirs is on Win 2000, IIS 5.0

  23. #23
    SitePoint Zealot thespian's Avatar
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    Let me start by thanking everyone who has posted to this thread. The response has been overwhelming and I have learnt a great deal.

    For your info - I have decided that I will persue the ASP option for now. The main reason for me doing so is financial. Whilst PHP may be free on Unix, I believe there is a cost involved for the NT interpreters. The South African currency is very weak against the US Dollar and the effect is that we are paying the equivilant (by standard of living) of 5 or more times what you guys would pay. This obviously also puts Cold Fusion out of the picture. (Franklin Players is a non-profit community-based charitable orginisation)

    Anyway, now that I know where I am going all I have to do is find out how to get there. I have heard about things called "Personal Web Servers" and "ActiveX" - now to find out what they are and how they work.

    Once again, many thanx to all of you and you can rest assured that I will be visiting the forums often and telling my associates about you guys. You have really helped an old man get in touch with today's technology!

    God Bless!
    Bill Conté [Protected by Psalm 91]
    Web Mechanix
    Growing OLD is Mandatory - Growing UP is Optional!

  24. #24
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    Thanks a lot for that information on your final choice and remember to tell us all, how the program will work out in the long run, what are the problems? challenges and your satisfaction. And when i can finish my CGI and JavaScript challenges i will do the same before opting for PHP..

    fashola


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