Tag Archives: ideas

before building a database tips and tricks

On reviewing the subject material for DMT over the past two weeks I have come to think a lot about the practices I do at work when developing databases, requesting quotes for others to create databases and upgrading databases…All fun things to do…but complicated and often you need a working knowledge of the content/data before embarking on such a journey.

I have reviewed my processes and provided a summary list of questions that will better assist me in the workpklace, to assist developers and also to make sure the quote we receive can be better tailored (rather than the quotee having to guess what we may be talking about in a project proposal/plan). Hope they will assist you to.

Databases – Questions to answer and document

1. What are the objectives of the database?

To reduce manual input? To provide an approval process of content? To provide some information about a product/service to the public on a website? To create an authoritative source for staff to access across multiple locations? To store procedures

2. What are the fields/tables of the database?

Data modeling is a great starting point – I found that brainstorming what will be in the tables using a spreadsheet really help when there are multiple people in the process. It provides an opportunity for the developer to think about the type of technology that will best assist and the sheer amount of work required (for example, you may have twenty fields, or two hundred fields – this helps in the quoting process). It will also assist you work out where relationships need to be formed in the table. As time progresses, you may find that the tables / fields evolove. This is a good thing to work out on paper, before you create the database.

My spreadsheet template has the following headings (so you are thinking about the content from the beginning):

  • Field
  • Description
  • Field Content Type (text, memo, numeric, list etc)
  • Options (one, multiple)
  • Content Owner
  • Data Source (if fed from database / source)

3. Where will your data be coming from?

Will you be utilising content from other systems? How will content feed into your database – FTP, CSV upload, manual? What are the fields that will have content fed into them automatically? Note: A flow chart is a great way to open the conversation with a developer.

4. Who will be using your database?

How many administrators will be accessing the database? How many reviewers? What are the admin, reviewers, editors roles? Is a log in required? Is some information for some users, and other information for other users?

5. What reports will you need from the database?

And in what file format? Who will need to access the report

6. Is there any special functionality you require?

Do you want a person to enter a form and then a personalised automatic email / PDF is generated and sent to the person completing the form? Make sure you relate the special functionality back to the objectives.

Bringing it all together!

The final part before sending out to vendors for review and the quoting process is to document Functional Specifications – that will include all of the above, plus wireframes if you have an idea of how you would like the data organised on a page.

Most of all, remember, it is a work in progress and the developer may have some ideas to input in relation to technology platform, table structure, field labels and relationships. Take on the feedback and make a decision based on whether your objectives will still be met if the suggested update is made.


apply body id for CSS

The most interesting aspects of this weeks class (for me) were the instructions on how to apply different Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to different pages, how precedence works with CSS and media type CSS files.

My interest is in relation to my workplace where divisions would like identifiers to make their section of the site a little different from others, yet the brand requirement is to have some design elements across all pages. It was great to see in practice how precedence works when you have multiple CSS files for a site with a similar requirement of the organisation (where Faculties would like their own design elements, but there is an over-arching brand requirement).

Below is what I found interesting and the how to…

…apply CSS elements to specific pages:

In Alaistair Weakley’s video tutorial, he explained the way to apply different CSS to different pages, is to apply a body id and then add the creative element details:

Apply Body ID to the page/s:

<body id=”home_page”>

Edit the CSS file:

#home_page h1 {

This means that all text with a Heading 1 (h1) tag, on pages that have the body id of “home_page” will be red.

…add media type link for CSS files into the HTML

A CSS file may be created for the specific purpose of a particular media type, for example printing. To link the specific media type file into HTML, add the following text (replacing the href= link with your file location):

<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” media=”print” href=”http://www.locationofcssfile.print.css” />

I am looking forward to applying these ideas to my final project.

my assessment diagram v1.0

I have adapted the diagram as shown in Alastair Weakley’s Week 3 DMT video in order for me to further understand the client-side and server-side technologies as well as how it may be applied in the development of my assessment.

My interpretation:

Within my diagram, you will see:

  • the top half is about server side technologies and the bottom half is about client side technologies
  • I added some information for me to better understand the diagram (for example .txt added to the dev computer; GUI Filezilla added where the file upload process takes place etc)
  • I considered the opportunity for a database and provided a sample relationship
  • I have included the option for Ruby – however, I will decide if this is something I will undertake as I evaluate the skill level required to complete other aspects of the assessment

My diagram:

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Next Step

As I work through the technologies assessment and the learning contract, I will further develop the diagram as to how the technologies I select to utilise may be included and explained.

If you have any questions or if there is anything you think should be included for better understanding of the diagram, let me know. The diagram is a work in progress and your input is welcomed.


I have started brainstorming ideas for DMT final project and have shortlisted three. I will select/amend/edit/grow one that will meet the assessment criteria, expand my current skill level and challenge me!

…the assessment:

  • to create a site that can be described as a “diamond” (OK so there is more to it, but this is the description I am aiming for)

…the ideas:

  1. an interactive website that can bring together information about life at uni – the site can make use of RSS, embedding videos, ratings, and provide a community atmosphere by tapping into already established social networking site. I enjoy creating online social communities and am a current student, hence my interest!
  2. a mobile friendly site that houses links to resources for MIMM students – mobile sites are high on the agenda for a number of organisations and I am interested in learning more about the emerging technology. As a MIMM student I am constantly looking for resources and it would be great to have a loction of tagged resources.
  3. a gift registry for people to share online – while I am a social science person at heart, I am a marketer by day and this is an idea I have had for a while that has potential to grow over time. A gift registry could link in with Facebook API, would require a database and a unique identifier (for example, their own URL?) for people to share the list

…the technology:

  • I have a medium skill level in using HTML
  • I have a very basic skill in using CSS (for example, I edit parse files that have already been developed)
  • I would like to investigate an emerging/new open-source programming lanuage. Alternatively, I would like to investigate more on databases as I have a lot of front-end knowledge and administrative panel knowledge, but not the development of databases which is of interest to me.

…the decision:

coming soon……………to a blog near you.