SeniorDesignFilter: Help with Web Development
February 22, 2006 10:44 PM   Subscribe

SeniorDesignFilter: I'm a CSE (computer science & engineering) major and need help with my senior design project. I'm making an online personal information management (PIM) web applicaton using microsoft visual web developer 2005 and SQL server express edition.

Our design projects purpose is to make us more familiar with the newest web technologies and tools. Basically, the application is a multi-user PIM in which a user can keep track of events/tasks. There will be options to add/delete/edit events and they will be viewable on a calendar on the page (much like 30boxes.com). All user data will be stored in a database using SQL Server Express Edition. We decided to use Visual Web Developer and SQL Server Express because they're good learning tools, powerful, and integrate with each other seamlessly. I'm pretty decent at HTML, Java, C++, but i've never used C# which is what we want to use. Can someone please recommend some good books for a beginner to learn SQL Server Express, Visual Web Developer Express, ASP.NET and C#?
posted by deeman to Education (7 answers total)
 
There is a good streaming video series for learning the basics of VWD here :

http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/vwd/learning/default.aspx

For books I tend to stick with WROX and O'Reilly.
posted by mortisimo at 12:05 AM on February 23, 2006


Don't lock yourself in to one vendor if there's no compelling reason to do so. In particular, there's little reason not to target ANSI 99 SQL rather than SQL Server Express Edition. Being vendor independent increases the robustnesses and marketability of your project, and will compel you to write code that doesn't (implicitly or explicitly) rely on the quirks of a particular vendor's version.
posted by orthogonality at 3:48 AM on February 23, 2006


If you're a beginner, I'd say that SQL Server and ASP.NET are the wrong chioces. Consider a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) solution, as the available libraries and ease of use blow the others away.
posted by unixrat at 6:40 AM on February 23, 2006


Another reason I wanted to go with SQL server express was that Im already using MySQL in my databases class and want to learn new applications.
posted by deeman at 10:18 AM on February 23, 2006


Somebody is TEACHING a course on databases and is using MySQL??? /faints
posted by Rhomboid at 11:03 AM on February 23, 2006


I agree with unixrat. You're using technologies which will make it extra-difficult. Unless that's the point of the exercise, why bother?

And what's so wrong with MySQL, Rhomboid?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:33 PM on February 23, 2006


MySQL gotchas

MySQL embodies the antithesis of what should be taught in a formal course on databases. It shuns things like data integrity and strict type checking in the name of speed. The mysql developers have long been mocked by DBAs for insisting that things like transactional support, triggers, foreign key constraints, and stored procedures are mere extras that can be worked around in the application layer. Because of this philosophy that "speed is more important than correctness" many DBAs turn their nose up at it and all its fanboys in disgust.

Now, yes, some of those fancy features can be found in versions 5.x (or even 4.1.x), but until very recently those have not been quite production ready. You will still find many webhosts that have the ancient 3.23 version. And regardless of version, most of the "real database features" are not available in the default MyISAM2 storage engine -- you have to have compiled in and configured support for BDB or InnoDB storage engines. Many people don't use these because they are much slower than MyISAM2 and they are not available in all webhosts. This just furthers the image that MySQL is a toy.

So, my point here is not that MySQL is not capable. It runs some high-traffic sites like slashdot and wikipedia. But even those pale in comparison to what you might call "industrial" databases. And the image of MySQL as being a toy database that you have to poke and prod if you want "real database" features still remains.

Most importantly, In any kind of academic setting the entire point of learning about databases is to teach the A.C.I.D. concepts and what you might call "proper" database design (e.g. using foreign key constraints.) MySQL in its most common form fails these regards, for example MyISAM2 has no transactional support whatsoever. So using MySQL in this context as any kind of example is a touch hypocritical, when free alternatives like PostgreSQL exist. It would be like trying to teach a class on the history of classical music using only MTV and VH1 as source material.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:49 PM on February 23, 2006


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