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Web Hosting - Databases, What Are They and Do You Need One?
'Database' is one of the most commonly used terms that one encounters in web site design. Yet, what they really are and whether they're essential is often not clear to novices.
A database is a collection of organized data, stored in files that have a specific structure. It's that organization and structure that allows for easy and rapid storage and retrieval.
The need for a database generally only arises when you have a certain amount of information and that information needs to have some structure. If you have a half-dozen names and addresses to store, a database is usually overkill. If you have a blob of data with no relationships between any of the items in that blob, maintaining a database is usually more trouble than it's worth.
Maintain a database? Yes, like other complex systems a database, to be effective, needs to be designed properly at the outset then kept 'tuned' for good performance. The alternative is to gradually allow the database to become more and more disorganized. That leads to difficulty in use, poor speed of retrieval and more frequent failures.
With MySQL, Access or MS SQL Server, the three most common choices of database product for web sites today, setting up a database is relatively simple. Even those with limited technical skill can get one up and running just by following some simple instructions. But some thought should be given to how you want the information organized, and to maintaining the system during its lifetime.
Suppose you have a set of names, addresses, email addresses, products purchased, date purchased and amount. If you have only a few dozen records it matters very little how these pieces are arranged and related. A database usually isn't even warranted in this scenario. Once you have several thousand or more records, it matters a lot. Speed, the ease of expanding the set of attributes (like adding, say, product category), and other issues come into play.
Even those with little technical expertise, but a willingness to exert logical thought and invest some time, can build a very robust database. Think about how you would organize a set of data (called 'tables'). Should Name, Address, and Product be in the same table? Or should the personal information be stored in one table and any product information (product, price, ...) in another?
Some experimentation may be needed to get it right, but the choices have an impact on how easy the tables are to maintain. It also affects the speed with which programs can fetch old data and store the new.
Having a database also introduces new maintenance issues for the server administrator, since backups usually need to be done differently. Recovering a failed database is usually more complicated than simply re-copying files from yesterday. Ask your hosting company what tools and skills they have for dealing with any database system you consider.
It's true that introducing a database creates more complexity and the need for additional thought and administrative effort. At a certain level, professional expertise will be needed. But clearly the advantages outweigh the costs in many cases. Companies large and small eventually use databases to store and organize data. At some point, you may be fortunate enough to be one of them.
Editing for the Next Generation: The MySpace Form (myspace editing) The goal of a good editor is to make any piece of text appropriate for its audience and form. Books must fit into the expectations of a publishing company in order to fit the expectations of those who buy the books. Magazine articles must fit the style of the magazine including its goals and also its audience?s expectations. Content is certainly important, but voice and specific word choice are also big components of catering to an audience. A scientific magazine should not sound like the latest gossip. Likewise, a glamour magazine should be far from stiff and boring. When it comes to internet editing, even more elements are added to the typical editing criteria. Consider for a moment the different aspects of editing for the MySpace pages. Individual Pages An individual is not required to edit their pages. MySpace editing does often involve self-editing however. A page owner is writing about themselves, introducing themselves to many other people. No doubt that page owner wants to send the right message. Self-definition is very important in order to effectively communicate your intentions with others. That is where MySpace editing comes in. Here again, word choice is very important. Careful use of adjectives and other descriptive words can paint a picture for other visitors to the site. Using generic terms like ?thing? and ?a lot? will leave a person sounding boring and bland. In addition to self-representation, individual pages really should be edited for appropriate citations. That may sound tedious and so like ninth grade English class, but it is important. Quoting authors and lyricists on your page is an effective way to express your own feelings, but if the words are not your own, you cannot claim them. Plagiarism is wrong. In addition to the ethical issues, you should give credit to the people you quote for other reasons as well. Visitors to your page may really appreciate the words and lyrics that you quote. If you give credit to their author, other people can find more similar words to enjoy. Corporate Pages MySpace editing is useful for individuals, but it also opens up job opportunities. Because of the popularity of MySpace pages, advertisers have naturally started enjoying the benefits of the high traffic. The problem is that many advertisers may not be familiar with the format of MySpace nor the appropriate language to use to reach the audience that is surfing there. A qualified user can use their expertise to help corporations effectively use the pages in order to best reach the audience. A member of that audience can edit for the presentation of content so that it will be the most effective at getting the readers? attention. If you are one of these qualified users, MySpace editing could lead you to a successful career in all kinds of editing. Use your own page as a resume. If you aren?t interested in the career, you could just have some fun making the most of someone?s use of the pages. You will no doubt be well rewarded for your efforts. MySpace editing can take more than one form. The important thing to remember is that no matter what the format is for writing, correctness is important. Especially when your words are representing you, you will want to be clear and correct in your writing. Giving credit to those people you quote is the correct thing to do ethically, but it is also respectful. Finally, editing for companies without the proper know-how when it comes to internet advertising could be quite profitable. You?ll be more likely to get the job if your own page is effectively and correctly put together.