Web application development (Part 2)

Thanks for all the great feedback on my previous post. I had previously wondered why I don’t get a lot of comments on my posts and I think I’ve discovered why. I haven’t been making postings that were nerdy enough for my readership. Well, I guess I’ve learned my lesson.

I got a lot of good advice about using Drupal, CakePHP and Rails. I also got some offline advice to look into another PHP framework called Symfony. Symfony has one good thing going for it in that it has a book out which is available locally, which isn’t something any of the other PHP frameworks have going for it. (Drupal has at least one book available locally and Rails has at least a dozen.)

Anyways, after weighing all the good suggestions, I gave a stab at learning CakePHP. I found a few good tutorials online, probably the best of which is Sitepoint’s article The CakePHP Framework: Your First Bite. I combined that with a couple of other tutorials and within a couple of hours had an application with basic user authentication working. It really was pretty easy.

Today I worked on setting up the modeling for my first web application. I want to have a system where I can enter the hourly sales breakdowns from our daily receipts to come up with a schedule predictor of how many staff should be on duty at what times. SUBWAYâ„¢ has a way to do this but it involves employees writing information on dead trees and the manager to calculate by hand this data weekly. Much easier to just enter the raw numbers from the Z-Tape receipt each day and have it calculate things for me.

So I’ve finished modeling the four database tables needed and their relationships, and have entered some basic data with scaffolding. I think the modeling is pretty much set at this point and I can start building the controllers and views.

All in all it’s been fairly easy to get to this point and already I can see all the work that’s needed to get this complete. It’s quite possible I’ll have a working application by tomorrow and can bring the results to my manager at our weekly meeting on Wednesday.

Better yet, as soon as I get the authentication framework a bit more robust I can get my manager access and have her do the weekly data entry and set the employee scheduling herself. And the eventual goal is to get everything we do now in Excel and E-mail to be done via web applications.

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