Author Topic: I was searching for ...  (Read 2532 times)

Offline AlyssonR

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I was searching for ...
« on: November 12, 2016, 09:28:20 am »
Adventures in Zero-Budget Database Software Hell -
Being an account of one user's search for a new database.

Over the space of the past couple of years, I have been planning to put together a collection curation database program that will allow me to continue to catalogue my ever-growing collection of minerals and rocks.

The first iteration, some 45 years ago, was simply written up in an indexed book.

Later, when I finally had access to a reliable system (my first PC), that book was transferred to a free-form database called IdeaList (an excellent program at the time).

When I moved up to a 486 with Windows 3.11 on it, IdeaList no longer really cut the mustard, but it sufficed. Needless to say, I stored other documents alongside in order to expand the amount of data I was able to keep.

I tried both dBase and Paradox as substitutes for IdeaList, but the need for queries to access anything at all meant that they both fell short of my requirements - especially as the languages were outside of my experience at that point.

With Windows 95, I was also able to pick up a copy of Office 97 - which included Access.

Bingo! - Easy import of data (from a CSV report generated in IdeaList), and simple-to-build forms that were just drag & drop creations. I think I entered, perhaps, 250 keystrokes overall.

Now, my copy of Access 97 runs poorly on Windows 7 and I am concerned about my data being swallowed by the Access Monolithic (all the tables, forme, reports and so on are contained in a single file). I am also concerned about being able to continue to use the program in the future, since I detest the Windows 8 and 10 interfaces - which means going over to Linux when my current systems give out.

And so .... I went searching for some way in which I could do my database thing using OS agnostic technology - which means web-based software.

Open Source Database, I thought. I installed MySQL using XAMPP ... and started reading the manuals ...

The learning curve for PHP + SQL wasn't a curve - it was a vertical cliff. I tried. Honestly, I tried.

Then came Java. Java is a language made up of long lists of reserved words separated by dots. How anyone remembers how to do ANYTHING with it will forever remain a mystery - and things like jQuery (really?) and AJAX (that, by my reckoning, is a kitchen scouring powder!).

Almost every database system had the same problem - SQL and NoSQL, all needed programming in languages that I have never used before. Have you any idea how many database systems are out there waiting to be downloaded and used for free? Dozens (and I probably tried most of them).


Mind boggled and a little scared, I started looking at *other stuff*. Kylix (Pascal ... not my first choice, but I have used Pascal a bit) was a vague possibility. VB6 (which I have) only goes so far with Windows, and doesn't play that well with Wine.

Harbour - dead in the water.
Workflow databases - pshaw! No way.
Lazarus (cross-platform Delphi) - good, but not ideal.
Eclipse ... it could have been good, but installing languages and modules is an ill-documented pain in the processor. I installed it, and it took 15 minutes to start up before crashing (apparently, my system doesn't have enough of anything to run it properly). It took 8 hrs to set up and 4 to remove again.

Envelop Basic (now known as Phoenix) - another reasonable offering, but not what I wanted.
By this time I had found ScriptBasic, which is a bit quirky to install other than as a command-line compiler, and wouldn't let me run CGI properly (my fault, not the software).
FreeBasic - okay, but again, it didn't fit the bill.
QB64 (my go-to engine for sysadmin automation now that QBasic is unusable on Windows), likewise, doesn't quite do the job.

Finally, I happened upon Morfik, the perfect solution (HA!) with a choice of languages, designed for building web-based programs and ...
... it would only run on the Windows platform because it generates .exe files as its output. Then I noticed that the project was both closed source and abandoned. A pity, it had possibilities, too.



So now, I have come full circle, and have settled upon ScriptBasic for my software development - at least it will allow me to get the job done, and if I end up writing background daemons to handle the indexing and housekeeping, then so be it.

What's more, the main interface will probably be a text-only monstrosity, unless something else turns up.

Offline John

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Re: I was searching for ...
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2016, 10:23:58 am »
Welcome back to BASIC sanity.  ;)

Quote
So now, I have come full circle, and have settled upon ScriptBasic for my software development - at least it will allow me to get the job done, and if I end up writing background daemons to handle the indexing and housekeeping, then so be it.

What's more, the main interface will probably be a text-only monstrosity, unless something else turns up.

You could always use IUP for a GUI front end.

Offline AlyssonR

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Re: I was searching for ...
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2016, 11:14:16 am »
I may well do - but I need to write the DB logic first.