The QUESBMI Faculty Interest Database Management System


Introduction.  I have been working on a project with the QUESBMI, Quinnipiac University Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management Institute.  The QUESBMI external interactions are being spearheaded by Matt Smith, though there are several faculty involved.  One of the things they have been doing is sending out forms to faculty to find out what sorts of interests they have in small business and entrepreneurship.  I have included a copy of the two paged form below.  They also have a similar form they have been sending to businesses, but we will leave that until later.

The second page follows.

So after QUESBMI has collected the information what are they supposed to do with it?  They could keep it on file so that they could search through the individual sheets whenever they want to find one or more faculty with particular interests.  This would not be very efficient, especially considering what can currently be done with computers.  It should be worthwhile to develop some sort of database management system to handle the data, help a user find particular records, query the data for certain information and develop reports among other things.  This is what we will talk about next in a very superficial fashion.


The DBMS.  I have been working on developing a LAN based system for data organization, querying and report generation.  I am including the images and a short discussion of the forms and menus for the sake of background.

The first form corresponds to the form that is being sent around to faculty.  It is not unusual to try and create a correspondence between the database form and the form used for data submission.



Notice that I have included some combo boxes and masked edit controls to improve input validation.  There are also some menus for finding records and command buttons for adding and deleting records and moving to other forms.  Since this is not a course in VB we will be moving on to the reports form.   One of the main things that Matt and his grad assistants are interested in having are easily printed/exported reports of faculty with particular interests.   Some of the features they want in these reports are contact information.  We also alphabetized them by name.  The reports form image follows.



If you were to click on the E-Commerce - Web Development command button you would get the following report.



This allow the user to easily print the report or export it to another file.

For a little more background, this report was based on an SQL Query of the data source that selected only those faculty that expressed an interest in E-Commerce.  It also selected which fields to display and the Data Report Designer was used to format the output.

Developing a Web-Based Form.  The next thing I want to do is create a web-based form for faculty to submit their interests.  This can have several advantages.

  1. Faculty that have an interest can report themselves without requiring QUESBMI to send them a form.
  2. QUESBMI doesn't have to mail forms since faculty all have web access.
  3. The data entry is going to involve at least one less step.
  4. It demonstrates that QUESBMI is current with the leading edge of technology and its uses.
  5. Multiple people at different locations can make use of the database via the web, they don't need to be on a LAN.
  6. It gives the developer a real example to use in courses with students and businesses.

But there are still some other major issues associated with the implementation of such a form.

  1. How do we get the information from the faculty member?
  2. Do we use the form information to directly update our data sources or do we transfer the data after some validation?
  3. Does the faculty member have active interaction with the server that contains the form and database or do they e-mail the form results to QUESBMI?

Obviously, while other issues are important I have focused on the processing issues.

What we will do over the course of the next few weeks is develop such a web based form in class.  This should be a worthwhile exercise in order to learn more about webpage development ASPs.  First, we must introduce some concepts about ASPs, but we will gradually work this project into the course.  

Remember that in order to make it worthwhile to do these sorts of web developments it is almost necessary that you have some sort of DBMS for the data.

But reality is that PHP and MySQL are much more accessible on the Internet/WWW.  So we will be motivated by the same considerations, but probably developing in a more intelligent environment particularly considering all the problems with Microsoft's .NET environment.