Please help me find the right back end solution
August 9, 2011 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Is PHP/MySQL the best solution for the back end programming of a job listing website?

I'm doing the web design/front end programming for a temp agency website. They have what appears to me to be fairly simple back end needs. Job applicants register through a form, and then login to search the jobs database or update their account information. Jobs are listed and de-listed by my client, who is not super computer literate, so a user-friendly form would be necessary. I want to make sure I am looking for the right type of programming. Any info on programming rates would also be helpful. Thanks!
posted by ljshapiro to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The best tool is the one that the best person for the job is most comfortable with. It might be PHP/MySQL, or Python or Ruby or something else. PHP/MySQL is a good place to start looking but don't restrict yourself unnecessarily.
posted by ChrisHartley at 8:27 AM on August 9, 2011

I don't really know where to start. It depends in part on what you're willing to spend, but your requirements aren't really specific enough to recommend a particular technology at this stage, in my opinion (I am a professional web developer with 12+ years of experience, who is currently doing Rails work, and I have done a ton of PHP work—Drupal and Symfony and "from scratch"—as well, and a lot of Perl, and some Java...).

The feature set you listed could be simple, or it there could be a thousand little requirements in there that you haven't listed or thought of ("oh, and of course if we have a job-de-listing function you have to be set up as an admin user to do that, which is different from the regular users who sign up, and so we need a user-management system with different roles and fine-grained permissions...of course...").

The question I always put to clients is, do you want to pay now, or pay later? Or perhaps less cynically, what do you think is the life-span of this web application?

The language/technology is largely immaterial at this stage. Shop around and ask for what a Drupal/WordPress tweaker would cost, what a skilled PHP/Ruby/Python/etc. developer using a MVC framework (Cake/Rails/Django/etc.) would cost, etc. Talk to people and give them a list of features and if they give you a quote right away walk away. If they ask you for more details and want to get a more clear idea of what you are doing before they provide any estimate, then keep talking. But the particular technology, in my opinion, doesn't really matter too much at this stage (if at all other than what it will cost you).
posted by dubitable at 8:28 AM on August 9, 2011

Drupal/WordPress tweaker

By the way I didn't mean this derogatorily towards people doing Drupal/WordPress work; I don't like that stuff and wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole at this point, but I've done it and I know it's hard and have respect for people who can manage it. WordPress in particular mystifies me...

posted by dubitable at 8:30 AM on August 9, 2011

Oh, and I would expect to pay between $50 and $100 an hour, depending on where you are located.
posted by ChrisHartley at 8:33 AM on August 9, 2011

Popping back in to second ChrisHartley's estimate...
posted by dubitable at 8:35 AM on August 9, 2011

PHP/MySQL will work just fine. But other languages will too. PHP/MySQL will probably be the easiest/cheapest to host. However, your language options may be restricted by the temp agency. Do you know how their current website is hosted, and if the job listing site will be hosted on the same server?

As far as PHP goes, there are a couple open source job boards that might help you out. JobberBase ( and also Jobeet( Jobeet actually has an accompanying tutorial which documents the process of creating it from scratch using the Symfony framework (
posted by trueluk at 8:37 AM on August 9, 2011

I was going to point out that there must be several if not dozens of open source job boards floating around. Why reinvent the wheel? It doesn't sound like your client has particularly unique needs.
posted by COD at 8:39 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Location is Los Angeles.
posted by ljshapiro at 8:41 AM on August 9, 2011

Sure, why not? Its what I use to build webapps at work.

Its difficult or impossible to say if you're better off customizing an existing project or just starting from scratch. If the site is to be very simple, it might be less hours for someone to make something from scratch than to modify some else's code, especially if you have special requirements.

If I was shopping around for this kind of thing, I'd consider my RFP to read "Web-based job board, preferably using free software." Let them pitch to you and by mentioning free software you're saying you're not interested in an expensive commercial solution.

Also, if this is a small shop, it might be worth going with some hosted turn-key solution instead of developing anything in-house.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:03 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agreeing that you should use what you are most comfortable with. But have you considered using a CMS? It would take care of user management and job listings and you could spend your time customizing it to the specific needs of your client.
posted by dawkins_7 at 9:21 AM on August 9, 2011

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