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ASP Question/s from a Newbie

Discussion in 'Web Development & Web Hosting' started by rwilmot, Feb 5, 2007.

  1. rwilmot

    rwilmot Nibble Poster

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    Hey guys,

    I have a problem. I have been given the joyous task of designing a kind of portfolio system for my boss. I have a whole list of things that I need to do and am viewing various tutorials but i dont know what i need in terms of ASP coding! I'd say im a complete novice but am a keen learner!

    here are a few things i need to do:

    1. you start from one page, enter login details, if login is correct then open a new window without toolbars or ANY program buttons at all.

    2. Restrict the site so that it can only be used in IE5+.

    3. Have different logins for different locations.

    4. When Joe Bloggs submits something an alert is sent to his correspondant.

    5. Have a progress bar displaying the progress within a task and an a progress bar for overall progress covering all tasks.

    These are just some of the things I need!

    Oh and just to rub it in, i've got a limited amount of time.

    Ahhhhhh! anyone got any ideas?????????? or should I just sit in a corner and cry?

    Richie
     
    Certifications: Village Idiot Award
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  2. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    I'd cry to be honest.

    You haven't really provided enough detail here to make any meaningful comments - such as what does the whole thing do? What kind of user input is expected? How are correspondents to be notified? If this on an Intranet, or does it have to work via the web?

    If that's all you have to go on, I'd give your boss a pad of paper and some crayons...
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  3. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    I'd agree with Jonny - you need a proper specification.

    Yes - I know such things are rare, but you need to make it clear that developing a complex system without a spec means basicaly producing a mess which everyone will hate!

    Harry.
     
    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
  4. rwilmot

    rwilmot Nibble Poster

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    I must admit I did roll around for a little while about your comment. Below should roughly outline what I am trying to achieve¬Ö Enjoy.

    OK, the whole thing is for students of our centres to be able to upload their work. The site is going to be hosted on the internet, the provider is able to support .ASP and I think, .ASPX. We have also purchased SSL for the whole thing. The students and tutors from each centre will login from the home page, the logins need to be centre specific (7 centres) to save confusion and my time as I have to maintain the whole thing.. After a successful login, the homepage window should close and a new window appears but, without any program buttons or menus. Also, disable right click and source code viewing as well as restricting the site to be used solely in IE5+. After the student has logged in, the student can then submit a piece of work to one criteria or multiple criteria (maybe tick boxes?) within the required unit, once uploaded an alert (email or internal message) goes to their tutor. The tutor can then log on and mark their work as well as leave comments. If a piece of work is ok then it needs a tick next to it, if not then a red cross. There needs to be a progress bar for each unit as well as a progress bar for all units (overall progress). There also needs to be various levels of access, as we have students (be able to submit work and comments and send messages), tutors (be able to submit work, delete work, read and send messages), supervisors ( be able to read messages, send messages and check work) and managers ( be able to read messages, send messages and check work), oh and an admin account to control everything.(read messages, delete messages, send messages, send work, delete work, create, edit and delete accounts, add units, courses tasks etc)

    I have unlimited storage space from the hosting company amongst other things, you can check the package out here (http://www.streamline.net/uu.php) i apologise if i amnot allowed to use that web link.

    I hope that is enough detail? If you need more then please let me know :)
     
    Certifications: Village Idiot Award
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  5. rwilmot

    rwilmot Nibble Poster

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    If you guys can help, and I'm hoping and praying (Literally!) that you can, then I will love you forever and be your best friend as well as put a link to this website in our websites.

    Thanks :biggrin
     
    Certifications: Village Idiot Award
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  6. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    I would suggest a couple of things here.

    Firstly, what you are suggesting here is a project that I would spend quite a lot of time over (and charge a lot of money for) as a developer. It is not something that I would look on as a hobby or a favour to my boss.

    Secondly, based on your questions and the vague project outline, I would say that it possibly isn't the sort of thing that you should be expected to do at your level - and please, I mean no disrespect by that, I certainly wouldn't want my first .aspx project to be company front end.

    Thirdly, who created the specs and why did they decide that this was the best way to do things?
    A basic, secure, internet portal isn't too difficult to create.
    Files can be uploaded easily enough.

    I would question a lot of the design decisions which have been made here. At a first glance I would say that the requirements are needlessly complex and I would need to know why these were necessary. For example - why disable View>Source? If you are using aspx, then nothing of a sensitive nature will be visible anyway.

    You will find people here that are happy to help you with small problems and queries, but I must say that the scope of your initial query is quite broad - and it sounds like a real development challenge!

    You need to be able to get the whole thing up and running, then ask specific questions. If you can't then, maybe the project is out of your league for the time being. Believe me, that's nothing to be ashamed of. When I started out, I turned down a lot of work which scared me!

    :biggrin
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  7. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    How much time *have* you been given?

    Looking at that lot I'd say that it was a good two months work for an experienced developer with good abilities in scripting and MySQL. You will need at least a solid two weeks drawing up a detailed spec and methodology.
    If that sounds lengthy I have learned over the years that the devil in these projects is people changing their minds, and micro-management of GUI appearance.

    If you *don't* have scripting and database experience then I'd say that this could stretch out into half a year or more. You would have *something* long before then, but it would be easily broken and would require continuous work.

    I've not heard of that hosting outfit, but that means nothing. My main concern is how cheap that package is. I can't see them providing much support at that price!

    Harry.
     
    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
  8. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    This *appears* to be putting Mac users at somewhat of a disadvantage, which is surprising in what appears to be an academic organisation!

    Not well thought out IMHO.

    Harry.
     
    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
  9. rwilmot

    rwilmot Nibble Poster

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    hmmm ok, we'll ignore my boss and yes your right nothing sensitive would show anyway. I was just going on what he provided me with. I have found a kind of open source portal/intranet system that I think will do the trick with some modifications. (digger solutions intranet system) Since I am responsible for the whole system, we'll scrap the restriction to IE5+, Harry is right and I know that some of our students do use MAC's.

    as for my time limit, umm ASAP.

    I am open to any suggestions at this point but giving up is not an option. I hope you can help!

    thanks guys
     
    Certifications: Village Idiot Award
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  10. Bluerinse
    Honorary Member

    Bluerinse Exabyte Poster

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    Good luck Richie, rather you than me mate :eek:
     
    Certifications: C&G Electronics - MCSA (W2K) MCSE (W2K)
  11. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    Interesting that putting that string into google brings up a whole slew of vulnerability reports. Based on that I would be *very* cautious!

    Harry.
     
    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
  12. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    If you have that amount of freedom then why not scrap the whole ASP requirement? It *might* in the end be ASP - but don't throw other solutions in the bin.

    Harry.
     
    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
  13. rwilmot

    rwilmot Nibble Poster

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    ok Harry, what would you suggest that I use? I am able to freely switch the server I am using between Windows server and a linux server. I am now going to check those reports, but would it make any difference having SSL?

    Can anyone suggest a system to use and modify?

    and thanks bluerinse, I will no doubt need it..
     
    Certifications: Village Idiot Award
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  14. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    My point wasn't to rubbish ASP or Digger Systems, but rather to suggest that you could usefully widen your search if you were prepared to be more flexible on some of the requirements!

    I've not been involved in this kind of web-site so can't offer names of good packages out there.

    But I do know from listening to others that there is a lot of similar stuff available, but many of them use PHP or Perl or other non ASP systems, along with use of MySQL rather than Access. Note that the main vulnerability that my Google search threw up stems from Digger's use of Access!

    Harry.
     
    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
  15. rwilmot

    rwilmot Nibble Poster

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    I have access to 5 mysql databases on my server. How would i go about transferring the access tables across?

    And I know you weren't trying to rubbish ASP or anything, i was just asking if you knew of any systems. I've played with some PHP scripts and programs in the past few months and am finding ASP to be a lot easier to understand and use.
     
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  16. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    I agree, you havent been given a decent timescale. just to put this into perspective for you:

    Since march 06 ive been learning and developing vbscripts. In november 06 i was seconded to the application development department (bear in mind my ONLY experience was with vbscript), where i was asked to design and build a webapp in asp to link into an existing system, in order to manage user accounts (ONLY user accounts). For this, i was given 6 weeks, a mentor, and the ability to call on advice from everyone in the department. I was competent enough to pick things up fast enough to build the app in less than 6 weeks, and was able to help out in other programs with some support and modifications, but the point is, they estimated that it would take me 6 weeks from a standing start to get the app running, even with mentor assistance, and thats just a user manager for a much larger app.

    If you are as inexperienced as i was, theres no way you can manage this in a short timescale. Certainly not on your own. Theres no shame in admitting something is beyond your current capabilities. I would suggest to your boss that it be assigned to a more experienced programmer (but if you want to pick it up, ask to be involved yourself). If it absolutley HAS to be you that does it, then make it perfectly clear to him that it WILL not be done soon, as you need plenty of time to learn how to code what you want, and design/build the app - and thats assuming that this project is all you are assigned to, any other tasks you are given will increase this timescale

    Ultimately you need to be honest with both yourself and your boss about your capabilities, and how long a project like this will take.

    Fergal
     
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
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  17. rwilmot

    rwilmot Nibble Poster

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    Thanks Fergal,

    Unfortunately I am the only person available to do this sort of thing. I have a work colleague that has *some* knowledge of web design but to be honest, he isn't commited enough.

    I know that I want to do the project but also know that my skills aren't as good as they need to be. My boss seems to think that "its just a database that people upload files to, how can it be more difficult than that...". and believe me, i have tried to explain that it is a little bit more complex than that.

    So, are you able to help me aswell fergal?
     
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  18. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    my knowledge is kinda limited to be honest. for a start ive never used SSL, that said, if you have a specific thing you are trying to achieve, i can do my best to help find a way to code it.

    I think you're first place to start is to sit down and divide the entire project into components, then work on each component individually, prioritising what needs to be done in what order.

    First off, you need to code the core component: the database where you are going to upload and download the documents. Once you have this you can begin to code frontend views to update and modify the data.

    Personally, I start with an initial concept, then start to build on it. so ask questions like "what is the bare minimum of functionality required?" In this case it sounds like allowing someone to log in as themselves, upload a document and notify their tutor. Everything else (the ability to record a score, mark comments against the document, etc) are would likes, rather than must haves. Once you have the core functionality running, you can start coding in would likes.

    Thats how ive been working the directory access program i posted. initially it was two buttons, a textbox, and a single output window. it was all very basic and crude looking. Once core functionality was running, i started addding on bells and whistles - icons on the items, a second pane, customizable group exclusions, etc.

    Hope that helps
     
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  19. rwilmot

    rwilmot Nibble Poster

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    Thanks Fergal, really appreciate your comments.

    Is there anything specific that you would recommend for the core components.( logging in, uploading files and notifying the tutor).

    With regard to uploading files, ideally the student needs to have their own folder that can hold all of their work, which in turn needs to be downloaded by the tutor easily. I'll just say that at the moment in all of our centres we have about 150 students that need an account. So, it all needs to be easy to access.

    Any ideas on this?
     
    Certifications: Village Idiot Award
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  20. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    I dont know a great deal about it, but i believe your best bet is for the core functionality to be handled via a SQL database. You can then handle user accounts within the DB, and im pretty sure that SQL DB's can handle uploaded files.

    The main benefit of using a DB is that you can consider creating a Windows app later, to replace the webapp for certain users (like the teachers).

    Using a DB to handle usernames and passwords (and access rights too), can simplify things down a fair bit, and im sure i can write up some code to use to connect to the DB, pull out a username and compare its password to the password supplied by the user. This in itself isnt too difficult really.

    For notifying the tutor, again its pretty easy, I've got some code that creates and sends an email using CDO (it even uses an XML query to retrieve another webpage ive created for an HTML email). you would just need to figure out how to determine the email address of the tutor.

    Uploading files, i have no idea, but im sure we can find out from google.

    Bear in mind that i have never worked with ssl before, so i dont know how different my code would need to be to take advantage of the extra security.
     
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
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