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  1. #1
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    Question re: new project

    Hey guys,

    So i have a rather interesting project on the go and only one option is coming to my mind. Rather stupidly I told them I'd give them options before I knew what the project was in its entirety. Lesson learned.

    I am by no means an expert - so bear with me. I am doing this still trying to build my resume & learn.

    Long story short they are a non-profit service provider to the unemployed. They have many many different programs available to them but do not organize them or the criteria involved to qualify. The issue they are having is that there are 150~ dynamic programs throughout any given year and staying ontop of the information is next to impossible for each of their staff individually.

    This is what they want me to do. Build something. That simplifies this loop.

    This is where I feel I shot myself in the foot. I said Id give them options.

    To me the best solution is a well maintained database of these programs. Some type of form gets filled out and the related programs get served up based on selected variables.

    Does that makes the most sense from the proper way to build something like this? Am I giving you guys enough information?

    Food for thought: Initially I was going to give these as the three options.

    Pre-built App:
    Hustream - guided video that allows selections. http://www.hustream.com/home
    Site:
    Build a directory type site with a form that pulls related programs from a database.
    Build them an App:
    Yes this is 100 miles outside my skillset, and im thinking its a bad option for them as the content updating/database stuff is going to need attention on a weekly basis.

    Option 1 & 3 don't make sense to me anymore due to complexity of their request.

    Is there something else out there app wise that could work for this? Or is the best and only option going to be a site?>

    Sorry for the long post. Thanks for the help!

  • #2
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    What are the "programs" they have? Are these PDF files that they provide? Are they something that the users print out and mail back?

    You're on the right track with the database idea, but we need to know what "programs" means. And who creates the programs?

  • #3
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    Hey dude,

    Appreciate the input. As for your questions I'll answer to the best of my ability.

    They are public service programs mostly focused on job skills.
    ie.

    Community Program is offered in = x
    Program Name = Employment Skills Access
    Description = x
    Service Provider = x
    Services = Underground Mining; Woodland Harvesting; Marine Operator Training etc etc (LONG list that varies depending on the Program and service provider)
    Eligibility = unemployed and/or not eligible for welfare and/or not a student etc etc (another long and inconsistent string of variables)

    The owners/creators of the programs adds another layer of complexity as the programs could be regional, federal or private. I see a submission type form that would send a request for approval/review to database mod.

    My understandings of databases from a coding perspective is rather slim, but the principal I understand. Just trying to determine if any other options are worth exploring and if so, which ones!

    Let me know if that makes sense!

  • #4
    The fat guy next door VIPStephan's Avatar
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    That sounds like it calls for a CMS. It is kind of a complex job but nothing impossible. And after all, you can still subcontract work for which you don’t have the skills. That’s common practice in business; e. g. an advertising agency takes on a job that includes a print ad campaign and some website desgin, and they hire/contract another agency that is specifying on web stuff because they themselves don’t have the skills or people.

    The client doesn’t care so much as to who does the job but rather how it’s done and whether it’s delivered on time.

  • #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by VIPStephan View Post
    That sounds like it calls for a CMS. It is kind of a complex job but nothing impossible. And after all, you can still subcontract work for which you donít have the skills. Thatís common practice in business; e. g. an advertising agency takes on a job that includes a print ad campaign and some website desgin, and they hire/contract another agency that is specifying on web stuff because they themselves donít have the skills or people.

    The client doesnít care so much as to who does the job but rather how itís done and whether itís delivered on time.
    Any suggestions on which one? The only two Ive ever built on are Concrete5 and Wordpress - neither of which seem to be the right type of CMS.

    In my research I found this : http://redbookonline.bc211.ca/

    This is a long the lines of what Id like to do but want to have a form rather than a search bar to generate the results like that. Forgive the question but I am assuming any CMS will service this, I am just unsure on how to approach it.

    Thanks

  • #6
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    So tell me if I'm right here ...

    What they do is have a long list of programs that people can search for. When a person puts in the form info, it returns back the list of programs that match their needs. They can click on any of those programs and a form pops-up that they fill-out to provide info or register for the program. There is also a description of the program, maybe some photos, and maybe some PDF pamphlets, paper forms, or printouts that the user can download and print.

    So the admin person needs to manage the database of programs. They can add them, edit them, delete them. They can add a long description, and possibly some photos or a PDF file that is associated with the program. The admin person can also add programs that are 'future' programs ... they are in the database, but won't be active until after a pre-determined date. Likewise, programs can expire and no longer appear in the searches.

    It sounds to me like there might be "outside" people that can submit programs (or jobs). Those people would fill out an online form with all of the information and submit it to the website. The site admin person would verify and check all data before making it "live" on the website.

    That can pretty much be done with a website that uses PHP for the dynamic part. It does not necessarily have to be WordPress. The requirements would be to use PHP and MySQLi (for the database). Even if you were to create a website (design, layout, template, etc), you could hire a programmer to only do the database and dynamic portion. That scripting would be integrated into your existing website.

    Do the people who are searching for programs need to register and log-in? Or is this something that anyone can search (anonymously)? Also, how are the programs currently managed? Is there a program list hand-coded into a static website, or is there currently a database used in some way?

    Am I on the right track?



    .
    Last edited by mlseim; 04-25-2013 at 10:40 PM.

  • #7
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    Dam your good.

    In short, yes EXACTLY, with a few minor adjustments. Although this is what I want to do for them as there is absolutely nothing at present in one spot doing this. Its scattered across 68 different sites.

    Let me address your reply piece by piece

    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim View Post
    So tell me if I'm right here ...

    What they do is have a long list of programs that people can search for. When a person puts in the form info, it returns back the list of programs that match their needs. They can click on any of those programs and a form pops-up that they fill-out to provide info or register for the program. There is also a description of the program, maybe some photos, and maybe some PDF pamphlets, paper forms, or printouts that the user can download and print.
    Everything here I want to incorporate, although at this time I am unaware as to what the registration process is like. Everything else is identical to my vision.


    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim View Post
    So the admin person needs to manage the database of programs. They can add them, edit them, delete them. They can add a long description, and possibly some photos or a PDF file that is associated with the program. The admin person can also add programs that are 'future' programs ... they are in the database, but won't be active until after a pre-determined date. Likewise, programs can expire and no longer appear in the searches.
    Yes, except the management you allude to is a huge haze to me. This is where my experience gap comes in, which is exactly why Im doin the project! :P

    The only thing worth noting is that the "photo" would probably just be a google map location img/api.
    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim View Post
    It sounds to me like there might be "outside" people that can submit programs (or jobs). Those people would fill out an online form with all of the information and submit it to the website. The site admin person would verify and check all data before making it "live" on the website.
    You got it again. Literally, spot on.
    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim View Post
    That can pretty much be done with a website that uses PHP for the dynamic part. It does not necessarily have to be WordPress. The requirements would be to use PHP and MySQLi (for the database). Even if you were to create a website (design, layout, template, etc), you could hire a programmer to only do the database and dynamic portion. That scripting would be integrated into your existing website.
    Forgive the retarded question. But say I run through as you mention above, design, develop etc - if its a database like this and the php dynamically pulls forward - is it correct in assuming there will be very few pages as all the crucial information is in the DB?

    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim View Post
    Do the people who are searching for programs need to register and log-in? Or is this something that anyone can search (anonymously)? Also, how are the programs currently managed? Is there a program list hand-coded into a static website, or is there currently a database used in some way?

    Am I on the right track?

    .
    Programs are not currently managed. There are 589 different things that people are responsible for sourcing on their own. There is no list anywhere besides the massive excel file I've built out.

    I am unsure on the login piece at this time - would that add a lot of difficulty?


    Also a side note - you always seem to be the guy who ends up helping me. So after I read your post I made my way through a bunch of threads to give advice where I had any... don't wanna be one of those guys who always asks but never gives.

    Thanks again for your help.

  • #8
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    It's scattered across 68 different sites ....
    That part is a bit concerning (and puzzling). So you're dealing with one company or organization that will be using one website for all programs, and everything will be consolidated into this one website? After that, they won't be using the other 67 sites?

    And "they" (whoever they are) are aware of what you're doing and are "on board" with it?

    You are correct that the 'meat of it' is all in the database. The website (as in the web pages) is merely the way to give the user a place to enter search parameters and view the results of the search. It can be as simple as 4 pages:
    1) main page with search form.
    2) results page that shows the results of the search.
    3) detail info on any selected program.
    4) a way to contact the site or owner that is running the website.

    I think you'll now have to PM me with more info, as this probably shouldn't be public. PM me with an email so I can maybe get a copy of your Excel file. If I can get a handle on how much info there is, and how you have it put together, I can give you a better answer on how to proceed with this.


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