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  1. #1
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    Question About Databases

    Hi,

    I am trying to figure out if I'm being taken to the cleaners by my website developer. I think a specific question that arose, which he answered vaguely, might provide the answer to me.

    Please respond if you're familiar with the technical requirements needing to build a site using WordPress.

    Thanks.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Ronald Roe's Avatar
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    Just post the question. Someone will be able to answer it.
    Ron Roe
    Web Developer
    "If every app were designed using the same design template, oh wait...Bootstrap."

  4. #3
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    Ok,

    I am working with a developer, who has taken such a long time to create my site that I can't help but worry that I'm being strung along.

    Instead of perhaps misrepresenting a situation I asked him about, I'm going to post our conversation verbatim here, in hopes that someone can confirm that it sounds kosher, or in dread that it doesn't.

    The dialogue concerns a back-end database to a site about golf that I've asked him to design. Among the data I'll be showing on the site is a scorecard for golf courses, which will be set up like a table. But in the backend fields, this information is simply input with commas between data points and redundant verbiage (i.e., yardage, par, slope rating) next to the appropriate figures, whereas, on the front end it will be presented as a table, with those words as column headings.

    With this in mind, if someone could follow the conversation below and render an informed judgment on whether it looks appropriate to the task being discussed, I'd be in your debt.


    From Me:

    One question that arises regards the scorecard information, which, as you know, will end up as tabular matter.

    Will it be necessary to input this information again into these tables? The way the data is set up in the field doesn't lend itself to this. To wit, the words "rating" and "slope" appear alongside the numbers, when, in the final presentation, they will be column headings in the table.

    From the Designer:

    That's ok. Where it is in the backend isn't related to the front end. Those
    are like that in the backend to make it easier to remember what's what in
    putting the data in the backend manually in the future. We can put stuff
    where we want on the front. Just have to do all that data the same way each
    time in the backend.

    And finally from me, and as yet, unresponded to:

    Pursuant to the discussion about the scorecards, I'm left to wonder whether I have to be fantastically careful about how I input this data into the field set aside for it. That is, if somehow this information is being picked up on the front end in an automated way, could a simple omitted comma foul things up? And why would I not be inputting all this data on the front end anyway? If it has to be moved there isn't it double work to input it on the back end first, only to have to do it again on the front end? Please clarify this for me, as if I'm going to invest this labor, I would only expect it to have to be done once.

  5. #4
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    Are you inputting these things in a spot within your WordPress admin dashboard?
    I'm guessing he made a custom field on the screen where you edit pages?

    Can you post an example of what you're inputting?

    Maybe a clear screenshot we can see.

    Also, if your site is online, can we see one of the actual website pages where the scorecard appears?
    That would be the best way for me to understand what a scorecard looks like.


  6. #5
    Senior Member Ronald Roe's Avatar
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    It sounds like he's building the data as a CSV, or "comma separated values" file. It can be used as a database, and you can open the file in Excel, and it'll look like a spreadsheet. Are you being strung along? It doesn't seem like it to me just from what you've posted here. He is correct that as long as the file is formatted properly, the frontend can easily be made to behave however is needed. I would caution that unless he's building an editor for you, or he intends to show you how to edit it as a spreadsheet, his method may not be overly user friendly, and yes, one misplaced comma could throw the whole table off. I'm not sure what his reasoning is for taking this route, and I won't bother to speculate, but it doesn't appear as if he's trying to scam you. I would ask him why he's going with CSV as opposed to a traditional database (like MySQL) or even a JSON data file, which would definitely be better and easier to manipulate. If he has a legit reason, and he has a way for you to edit the data easily, just roll with it.

    EDIT TO ADD: It's especially odd that he's using a format like that from within Wordpress.
    Last edited by Ronald Roe; Dec 29th, 2014 at 02:36 PM.
    Ron Roe
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    "If every app were designed using the same design template, oh wait...Bootstrap."

  7. #6
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    Thanks to both of you for your thoughtful input. I'm attaching a screenshot of the table as requested.

    As to Mlseim's questions:

    Yes, I am inputting them into the dashboard.

    I don't know whether it's a custom field per se, as it is set up identically to all the other fields.

    The site is not on-line and that is troubling, since I was assured it would be in exactly three days. Only today was the data imported into the site, with probably 75% of the site remaining to be constructed or refined. This is what leaves me wondering whether he's doing just enough work to avoid being recognized as fraudulent, but also just enough where I might be so vexed that I abandon him for another designer and he gets to pocket all the up-front money (75% has been paid already). He did agree to return the second -- and largest -- deposit six weeks ago if the site wasn't ready by the end of the year. It would be in my hands "temporarily" as per our agreement, to be dispensed again at the completion of the site. As you can imagine, I'm on pins-and-needles awaiting the moment when he does or doesn't keep his word on that.

  8. #7
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    Here are the screenshots.

    The first represents how the data will be displayed on the page, the second on how it appears in the WordPress program manager.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #8
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    I see nothing wrong with that.

    Although ... I wonder why you don't have a comma after color?

    It looks like the format is:
    Tee Color, Total Yards, Slope, Rating

    I would expect to see:
    Blue,6287 Yards,Slope134,Rating 72.1

    In fact, I would make it:
    Blue,6287,134,72.1

    You already know what each value means, that can be displayed on the 'front-end'.

    So he is using a WP plugin that has custom fields that go into a database table.

    That is a good way to do this (in my opinion).

    Each line entry is not a scorecard is it? Isn't each line the information for 1 tee/hole?


  10. #9
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    The information as I set it up for the scorecard was without any prior knowledge of what would be required. I believe he expected to get everything as a spreadsheet (a point which was not impressed upon me until after the fact) so I simply devised a standard format and adhered to it.

    As far as each line entry goes, no, that does not equal a scorecard, but the sum of the lines does.

    Thank you for bringing clarity to this aspect of the site development.

    If I might impose on you for some further perceptions regarding whether the work is being performed at a reasonable pace or whether some intentional dragging of the feet is going on to discourage me (and perhaps get me to abandon him as a developer -- don't know that this is what's happening, but the languorous pace he works at has created suspicion), I'd like to know if the following seems fishy:

    The latest task he's been working on has been ongoing for seven days. This is how he describes the task:

    Continuing coding for search / search listings.

    Does it seem reasonable that this could chew up a lot of time? My site is very content heavy, with about 250 courses needing to be accessible through an internal search function.

    That said, there are roughly a dozen fields which will be searchable when the site is up and running. They range from geography (search parameters can be name of course, region, city, state) and type of terrain that characterizes the course (there are nine possibilities) to simple yes / no (lodging? driving range?). In most of the searches, the reader will simply type in a query, such as seeking all courses designed by a certain architect, for which they'll supply the name.

    This does sound complex to me and if this could easily take double-digit hours to set up, then I think he might deserve the benefit of the doubt. I guess what I'm trying to ascertain here is whether this might be a very simple procedure that a developer could zip right through in a sitting or two. If that's the case I'm afraid I might have the smoking gun, which I really hope not to ever find.

  11. #10
    Senior Member Ronald Roe's Avatar
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    That's the funny thing about development. It isn't often that 2 problems are exactly the same. Many times, when you hire a developer, you're paying them to go out an figure out how to do something. Even if they've done it before, it often takes some time going through developer documentation to solve it a second time. There are many redundant tasks that a decent developer can do off the top of their head, and those are your single-digit hour jobs. Customizing Wordpress' search function? That's going to be pretty deep, and likely something he hasn't done before.

    Imagine you're a car mechanic. 3 cars roll through your shop. The first is an oil change, done in 10 minutes. The second, slightly more complex, but nothing you can't handle because you have the right tools and experience. It takes a couple of days, and you likely have manufacturer manuals to help. The third is a foreign car. A brand you've never heard of with an odd engine you have never seen before. It won't start. You have no manuals, as you don't normally work on cars like this. You don't fret. You have the tools, and you know on a theoretical level how cars work better than the average person. You try to run down a maintenance manual, but when you get it, there's only a one line sentence in broken english to explain each aspect of maintaining that car. So, you set to work figuring it out.

    This is how the world is for a developer, albeit on a much more complex, delicate, constantly changing level. You're seeing the development of this site as the oil change on the first car. I will grant you that some of the tasks are like that. Basic layout of the front end is generally like that. Most of it, however is like the second car. The dev knows what he's doing and has the right tools, but it still takes time. He's troubleshooting the car, reading through the maintenance manual. Manipulating the way Wordpress' search function works is like the 3rd car. If you want just a simple list of results that match a string, that's easy. Returning relevant results based on key words and returning them in a usable format? Yikes. I'm a damn good developer, if I do say so myself. There are a good number of damn good developers on this forum, a few who make me look stupid, and there's 1, maybe 2 of them I would suspect would have the knowledge necessary to do this as if it were car #2. Could I do it? Hell yes, I could, but don't expect it tomorrow.
    Last edited by Ronald Roe; Dec 30th, 2014 at 06:18 AM.
    Ron Roe
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