Am I SQL to the task?
May 14, 2012 9:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm a full-time freelance web designer and developer for a wide variety of clients. One of my clients just asked me to build a web site them but it turns out that what they really want instead is a user registration system that has a rewards component. Can I beg, borrow or steal something that's already built, or should I get out now before I get in too deep?

Up until now they've been managing the user registration through web forms that I made for them. Then, to keep track of the earned rewards part, they've been doing a combination of manual and automatic updates through a custom third-party software tool that populates a SQL database.

I'm comfortable with PHP and I know a small, very small amount about MySQL databases because I wrangle 60+ WordPress sites for other clients. But checking into phpMyAdmin for changing the occasional admin password or resetting voting tables is about my only real experience with working with MySQL databses directly.

I always like to learn new things, so at first I felt OK about this being outside of my comfort zone. But for this particular client, I feel like I have worked blind on many fronts on past assignments -- for example, I've been asked to set up web-based forms on another site that never had any mail server set up for it, which left me to waste a lot of time troubleshooting why my scripts weren't working no matter what I tried. It wasn't until I had to admit defeat to the client that one of them checked back with their "IT guy" and discovered the technical problems on their end.

I haven't yet received any information about the SQL database they're using today, what tables they're using, what data they need to collect, or how many registrants they have or expect to have. I'm afraid of not asking the right questions up front to get everything I need.

They have a very rapid turnaround time and deadline in mind. And while that's typical, I'm nervous about being poised to fail since I don't know what information I should have but didn't ask for.

I'm tempted to use something like WordPress, since it has a registration system and mail functionality and a powerful forms plug-in to let people register and send them all kinds of automatic notifications. Then I think I should be able to integrate with their other, existing SQL database without too much angst. But of course, this may just be the hammer that I have and everything about this project looks like a nail.

What other tools might I consider, and am I being foolhardy to pursue this? I appreciate your insights.
posted by lgandme0717 to Computers & Internet (1 answer total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to build off S2Member which has a pretty useful API for things similar to this.
posted by steinsaltz at 9:55 AM on May 14, 2012

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