SQL Server, here we come

It is a remarkable thing Microsoft Access. It’s a desktop application that has found itself being used as an online database. Strictly speaking, more than 10 simultaneous connections and it should explode. However at http://www.flemingforum.org.uk has been using Access for some time now and we’ve not experienced any real problems. This is suprising since we often get peak user levels of over 250.

This is dancing with the devil though and sooner or later our luck will run out. And this is why I started a gradual upgrade to SQL Server. I’m not going for the big bang approach but a gradual change over. Step 1, synchronise the content insert and update data calls to run simultanously with Access. Once acheived then the question is whether to do the same for member data as this is rather more dynamic and mission critical. Synchronisation of these databases will be vital. Once the content and members data are proven to be acurately synchronised then the content output can be switched. Finally, member control can be turned over to SQL. If all works fine then the final task it to switch off Access updates and inserts.

Once all this is done (I expect it could take a month), then I’ll be ready to think about completely rebuilding the entire site. There had been an attempt to rebuild the site in .NET but nothing seems to have come of this and I’m not convinced there’s an urgent need to do this as I wouldn’t consider the site being that complex. Or is it?

The decision will really be based on the extendability of the site. How easily can a new section be added. And how cleanly. At present it’s a messy process that is liable to “brand leak”, i.e. you log into Infection Control but suddenly find yourself in Tissue Viability. Not good. Skinning, that’s the secret. And not that difficult.

I need to go away and think about this.

On an entirely different subject: rapid site development. How quickly can a unique web site with full CMS be constructed. A week? A month? 3 months? I’ll wager if you can build a set of components, modular CSS, and script library, you could do it in a week. Just watch this space!!

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