Is HTML what i need for my app?

i have been posting questions in other forums regarding my application, and some of their answers have led me to consider HTML. Here is the situation:

i work for a small non-profit foundation, named CEF, that is mounting a huge art retrospective regarding all the myths of the world. There are over 600 paintings, one for each myth included, each painting being derived from the text of the myth.

In its current configuration, the dbs will contain the source of the text (book title, author, publisher, page, etc.), geographical origin(s) of the myth, people(s) creating the myth, the text of the myth, and an image of the painting.

The images and the text (which can be 5 or 6 pages in length) are maintained in separate file directories and referenced from the dbs via relative paths.

The myths are divided into three main divisions: Creation, Mortality/Immortality (Paradise), and Death. University-level seminars will be conducted with speakers from around the world for each area of interest.

In conjunction with the retrospective, education programs are planned for schools, with particular emphasis on elementary children.

As well as making the app available on the web, CEF wants to give away CDs with the application. Because so many of the schools use Macs, this requires the app to be formatted for both the Mac OS and Windows. We are assuming most Linus users can open Windows apps at this point--sorry.

i am the designated programmer, and my experience is limited. i am "reasonably" experienced with VB and MS Access, "somewhat familiar" with DreamWeaver, C, C++, and am learning C# at someone's advice. We have DreamWeaver, FrontPage, Visual Studio.NET and Sql Server 2000 (which we bought for this purpose but is probably too much).

My questions in other forums have led me to consider writing the app in HTML with MySql as the back-end database. i don't know anything about writing apps for a dbs in HTML. Is this a good idea? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Pitfalls?

How would i go about it?
Any reference materials to recommend?
Would i need any software other than HTML and MySql? (PHP has been mentioned.)

Any and all suggestions and advice appreciated.  Thanks.


Elizabeth Bakerexe asstAsked:
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There is no way for HTML to communicate with a MySql database without a 'middleman'.  That's why people have mentioned PHP to you.

HTML is only useful on the client-side (end-user) machine.  It tells the browser how to display stuff.  MySql, however, is a database querying language, and operates server-side.  PHP, ASP, ColdFusion, etc, are scripting languages that allow the web server to communicate with the database server.  Often, web programmers use one of these scripting languages to pull data from the database and then write html based on these db entries. Ebay, Amazon, BN all use this type of logic. is always a good place to start, along with if you don't have any experience with MySql.

A book I would consider getting is:

Let me know if you have any more questions.
You can't have a server-side option running off a CD. Databases require server support, and you don't have that from a CD.

I suggest that you do it in Flash, with an XML file to serve as your database. It would be workable for web, and as a standalone app for both Mac and PC. If you have the images in a standard size, you could set up the filename for the image in your database, and generate the XML file for the data directly from the database.

You would need to learn Actionscript, but that shouldn't be a problem given your background. Using Flash would give you ONE thing to learn (along with some XML) and allow you to use the final product everywhere. It would also give you a much nicer interface and allow some music as well as images.

I don't always promote Flash as the answer -- but this is a situation that leverages its strengths and provides a unified solution.
Elizabeth Bakerexe asstAuthor Commented:
clFlaVa, is this solution--using HTML, PHP, and MySql--workable on a CD for both Mac and Windows?

i don't really understand what MySql is. Is it a relational db, a relational db server, or both? If only a db, it would probably work on a CD. If a server, how would that work?

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Yes, HTML, PHP and MySQL will work on all systems. I mean you would need to install the MySQL database and the PHP files on a server (which can be Windows/UNIX). Then those files would be accessed through the client in the browser. You can set the CD up so that it also accessing the same web page up that you can access through the normal web so that you don't have to keep to copying the MySQL database to different places.

Take care

Abhishek (AJ) Ratani

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Interesting.  I never got an email about your response, e, sorry.

Thanks for taking it aratani :)
> CEF wants to give away CDs with the application.

I'm assuming that the CD will be used stand-alone, on machines not connected to the Internet. Maybe I'm missing something, but I see no other reason to even have a CD if the web site is publicly available. If this is the case, I don't see how you can use MySQL or PHP or any other server-side technology. You'd be limited to whatever the browser can handle without a web server.

I'm not sure that there's a single right solution for your problem, but I'll throw out a few ideas.

How about using standard HTML, CSS, and ECMAScript/JavaScript? If the project isn't something that's going to require updates and maintentance for years to come, this might be the simplest solution. Any web server would work for your site. Setup and server administration would be trivial. You wouldn't need a database server. You could burn the entire directory to a CD, and your users wouldn't need anything more sophisticated than a standard browser to use the CD. You'd loose flexibility, though. You couldn't use any forms, for example.

Maybe you could build the web site with the server-side technologies of your choice, and then use a crawler to create a static copy of the site and burn it onto a CD? You could use forms on the web site, but not on the CD. Perhaps that would be an acceptable tradeoff.
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