Hello there,

I am in the need of some serious guidance/advice/direction. I am comfortable and familiar with creating DB's, however my knowledge/skills/abilities simply revolve around MS Access. I have been approached by someone that wants their existing web based DB to be overhauled. They have provided me with a very detailed list of what needs to be done, and I am extremely worried that my knowledge/skills/abilities are not suitable for this type of request and perhaps I could be getting in way over my head here. That being said, perhaps I am being too paranoid, and the whole creation of a web based DB application is not as intimidating or scary as it may appear. Hence, my reason for coming to you wise and learned DB folk. If this is something that perhaps I could handle on my own, what would your advice be for the tools required to bring this project to fruition?

Here is what they had asked for:

Would like application to have:
- Role based access / delivery
- Would like drop downs with links to customer specific forms / waivers / etc.
- Would like things to have Time Stamps on any data that is inputted into database
- Client logs in and fills out specific forms that populate database
- Want alot of reporting features as well as ability to custom make reports on the fly
- Would like alerts to pop up based on specific criteria
- For certain information that is inputted into the DB that information can be emailed to specific parties as well
- Would like to be able to have audit trails generated for all DB activity
- Mandatory fields that have to be completed before certain processes can continue
- Ability to track information within the DB
- Client communication with updates
- When a client fills out an online application they will then be emailed with a generated username and passwordWishlist:
- Searchable - client specific results
- Relationships based DB with cross-referenced info within the DB
- Want strong platform that has a good shelf-life and won't be obsolete in 5 years
- Colour coded display of specific data types (ie. Status info, surname, etc.)
- Transition for client is seemless from old DB to new DB
- Needs to be supportable to the majority of client based computer systems

I really appreciate any feedback that may be provided. Thank you so much.


Your client is really very intelligent. I suggest you not to do any kind of reasearch on this project as you have only worked on MS Access. You must take some help from an experienced person. I think php-mysql platform will suit best to your clients requirement.

Thanks for the reply. I have looked into the wonderful world of web based applications/databases a bit further since I posted, and I am going to have to agree with you. As much as I hate to turn away business, I could never in good conscience take on a project that I couldn't deliver on 100%. What I can do is help direct my client in the right direction; I will look into the php-mysql route a bit more.

Thanks again.

I believe the best way to learn is through challenge. If you have good database knowledge then you should not have a problem. You won't take time to know Sql server if you know access very well. Also if your client wants the solution like yesterday, I suggest you make use of C# ASP.Net. I've been developing in C# and asp.net for 3 years now and I find it really comfortable. With databases, all u need is to take your time in planning all the input that would need to be stored, do the normalisation process then Bingo! Go on to development. The hardest part in development, I believe, is organising how the data will be stored. If you need help, don't hesitate to contact me. I'll urge u not to lose business! Gd Luck.

Those requirements are a mixture of data and presentation. You listed the requirements for a web application, not the database back-end.

And I would give serious consideration to the 'ad-hoc reports' requirement. That is a very big hole in terms of stability.