Interactive Projects/information/guilds database --+-- Idea for -- getting the DB effort off the ground quickly

Elijah Smith elijah at hilobay.com
Fri Dec 21 15:23:20 EST 2001


I think we're all sorta busy til January - I know I am - having those
mailing lists set up will be great, though.

mEIKAL, in response to your comments about getting something up and interns
entering data - my concern is this (and this is sorta something John said
earlier):

 Without getting a clear idea of all the data we'll want to track, and how
it's organized, it will be almost as big a deal to apply "fixes" to the data
down the road as it will be to enter it in the first place.  An example:
say, for instance, that a big part of the database has to do with plants :).
Say, we define a plant as having:

 one or more common names
 a latin name (plus variations, synonyms, etc)
 annual or perrenial
 hardiness zone
 comments

 Ok, your busy interns get to work and enter 500 records.  Then, someone
says something that makes us realize we need to enter what sort of plant
this is: groundcover, bush, small tree, big tree, vine, etc.  That means 500
records need to be individually revisited and updated... which is a lot
slower than involving that data entry in the initial go-through.  And that's
a simple example.  I've seen much, much worse... and it's no fun for anyone.

 That's why design is as big a deal with databases as it in permaculture -
if you just get a bunch of interns out there, digging swales, installing
ponds, and planting trees, you might not get a terribly functional system.

 So I'd like to push for spending January, at least, defining the major uses
of this system, what it does, how it operates, etc.  Maybe at that point we
could "version" it out - and version 1 could be just the plant area, and we
could pin the data structure down, and have a simple data input screen by
the end of March when your interns arrive.  Or something like that?  Anyone
else?

 Also - re: "tying into" the pfaf and ethnobotany databases:  it would be
very cool.  My only concerns are 1) bandwidth, if our server is retrieving
data from their servers to return to our clients, and 2) copyrights...
let's explore that further.

Lawrence, John, mEIKAL - I'd love to hear more about your backgrounds when
it comes to this sort of thing.  John, you mentioned some QA/Test
experience, which is really my weak point...  though I'm in complete
agreement with you when it comes to "developer interfaces"... We need to
make this thing super-usable, first.

 Elijah

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lawrence F. London, Jr." <lflondon at mindspring.com>
Newsgroups: permaculture
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Sent: Friday, December 21, 2001 8:53 AM
Subject: Re: Interactive Projects/information/guilds database --+-- Idea
for -- getting the DB effort off the ground quickly


> On Fri, 21 Dec 2001 12:04:35 -0600, mIEKAL aND <dtv at mwt.net> wrote:
>
> >I just found this note from a few days ago.  I am really interested in
getting
> >something mocked up in the very least because I think we will have an
intern or 2 by
> >the end of march & it is a good time for them to do data entry before the
season kicks
> >in..  (this is wisconsin)  ..
> >
> >& one thing Ive been wondering about, is would it be possible for us in
the end to
> >design more of a master database strategy that can access any of these
other databases
> >such as pfaf or the ethnobotany database & import info from them as the
result of a
> >search?
>
> It would absolutely be possible to do this. One of the best strategies
> for implementing this is throught the use of SSI, server side includes
> in one's html pages.
>
> >& what was decided about a separate list?
>
> We need a DB oriented toward North America and those in Europe need
> their own. I plan to contribute to the North American DB effort. I
> think we need to program our own DB's on our respective servers, using
> whatever DB platform we choose (PHP/MySQL for me), and link them all
> together with a common front end of some sort; then link all this to
> PFAF and other external DB's. Seems this is all possible.
>
> I plan to form two more lists to accompany this one:
> 1) DB data acquisition, archiving, retreival exclusively
> 2) DB techncal development discussion, software issues,
>     decision-making, question and answer
>
> I want to use our new list software, Mailman, to do these 2 new lists,
> rather than Lyris, our current platform which will be abandoned in the
> future. I will try to get this done as soon as possible - am busy
> putting up a large barn/storage/toolshed building until early January
> - maybe I'll find time between now and then but will absolutely have
> this done by 2nd week in January. After I fine tune the lists'
> functionality I will move everyone on this list to the new software.
>
> Those wanting to help with the PFAF DB have a separate list for that
> and we will have our own two (more if necessary) for ours. I feel that
> all aspects of ours should be free to the public (open source, if you
> like that label); this would include data, DB software code, all
> scripts and html code. At any rate, everything _I_do will be free.
> Of course, any of use can get grants and donations to help us get the
> work done.
>
> LL
>
>
> >
> >mIEKAL
> >
> >seems to be one of the shortcomings of list communities that it is easy
to have ideas
> >& toss them around...  another matter to know how to act.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >"Lawrence F. London, Jr." wrote:
> >
> >>
> >> Why don't you invite him to join this list and participate in the
> >> development of the PC plants database. He will have
> >> the opportunity to keep up with what's going on as well as being
> >> directly involved with the project as well as the various invividual
> >> efforts, Mielak's, John's, mine, his, i.o.w. whatever form it takes
> >> and where it is deployed.
> >>
> >> Go here to join:
> >> http://franklin.oit.unc.edu/cgi-bin/lyris.pl?enter=permaculture
> >>
> >> I have a new idea to help get the DB off the ground in a hurry:
> >>
> >> while the DB platform is being decided on, developed
> >> and put online for use we can still start collecting  and categorizing
> >> data in an easy-to-use interactive online resource:
> >> a public, no-subscription-required, web & email forum
> >> where all input is archived in a 4-way sortable, indexed, downloadable
> >> archive that can be accessed by the big Web search engines, for
> >> enhanced access & search/retreival. Everyone can use the data acquired
> >> for our collaborative DB or their own. I can do this with Mailman, the
> >> new list software this PC list will migrate to (RSN) when I have time
> >> to make the conversion. I could call it:
> >> pcplantdb
> >> email posting id for input would be pcplantdb@<whatever the server
> >> name is>.
> >> website would be www.ibiblio.org/pcplantdb (not online yet)
> >>
> >> Does this suit John, Miekal and anyone else wanting to be involved?
> >>
> >> The advantage to this quickstart method is that it will be very easy
> >> to use (submit input either through the Web interface [a form or
> >> direct email] or by private email) and all information submitted will
> >> be readily available to the public.
> >>
> >> A password-protected version of this can be created also.
> >
> >
>
>
> L.F.London ICQ#27930345 lflondon at mindspring.com
> http://www.ibiblio.org/ecolandtech  london at ibiblio.org
>
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