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How do I code a webpage so my customer can update content on their own easily?

Posted on 2008-10-03
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Last Modified: 2013-11-19
We have a website begin developed by a guy that is more graphic then coder and now face a programming hurdle we are unsure about. The website is for a property management company that rents apartments and houses with a fair amount of turnover and they need to be able to update the "properties" page of the website will all their current available units that are not rented. This is a daily need. With that said, how or what do we use that will allow them to update the information, almost on a daily basis, that will not require webmaster level time or assistance? We thought about displaying an embedded PDF on that page but they have a few thousand units so looking long-term a content management page is probably better off. Any help is greatly appreciated. thank you
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Question by:kjudd
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xperttech earned 350 total points
ID: 22635252
My recommendation would be to look into a CMS (Content Management System). You can Google it (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=cms+open+source) and find yourself an Open Source one for your platform.
A CMS will work with a database to handle your properties and the content. Also, it will allow you to have some level of approval and security access to specific site areas (departmentalize).
I use a commercial one (www.ektron.com) that even includes pre-made sites that could fit your application.
With a CMS your users focus on the content while your designers and programmers focus on the layout and behavior.
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Author Comment

by:kjudd
ID: 22635608
Thank you for taking the time to answer.

The sites already created so im really looking for a 1 page element or a way to display tables that can be amended by a non-techinical person locally and then uploaded via ftp.
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by:xperttech
ID: 22635870
In that case you may want to explore the use of a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. Something in the lines of Adobe Dreamweaver. This way you can have the editor pull the file via FTP, edit, preview, and the upload. All with one tool.
Note on the CMS: You don't need to rebuild a site to introduce a CMS, but you will need to "integrate" it into the CMS which could be a lot of work.
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Author Comment

by:kjudd
ID: 22635919
Would it be worth hiring an asp guy and building a form that would be a "no brainer" for my client to update? We just want it to be easy for them and no work for us. I need a magic bullet here for someone who struggles with the tabs in IE so the WYSIWYG editor will be too complicated.
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by:xperttech
ID: 22635979
If your client struggles with the IE tabs, then he/she may struggle with the login page before the content admin page.
Being said that, the answer would be Yes. Creating a login, plus a form page to modify just a listing of properties should be a no brainer.
Just make sure you think of the BIG picture. You may need in the future more people or more access to 'other' site sections. Make sure you layout the foundation and leave the door open when developing this app to be able to grow and add features without having to rebuild all over again. As your developer to make sure this small app can grow in the future and explain hi/her what could grow.
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Author Comment

by:kjudd
ID: 22635994
Is it possible to get bids for this project in here?
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by:xperttech
ID: 22636008
I don't think so...
Check out: http://www.elance.com
 
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by:Jason C. Levine
Jason C. Levine earned 100 total points
ID: 22637688
The cheapest solution may be to get Adobe Contribute.  It would allow the user to update pages without allowing them access to the code and is several hundred dollars cheaper than Dreamweaver.
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by:xperttech
ID: 22637855
I guess cheaper than Adobe Contribute would be FREE: http://www.thefreecountry.com/webmaster/htmleditors.shtml#wysiwyg
But Kjudd expressed interest in actually developing a form-based page to control entries in his site.
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by:Jason C. Levine
ID: 22637877
A free web page editor would potentially expose the (not so swift) user to real code, whereas Contribute uses a more Word Processor like approach.

Form based works fine too.
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Author Comment

by:kjudd
ID: 22638178
I will try to price this project out and if it's not to cost prohibitive go with a hidden "updateform.php" page that updates the "properties.html" page and tables the information. I think that sounds like the easiest unless anoyone else has a suggestion?
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by:scrathcyboy
ID: 22638767
"how or what do we use that will allow them to update the information, almost on a daily basis, that will not require webmaster level time or assistance"\

You have to be VERY VERY careful here, because if the designer is your average geek that uses some MySQL database, or worse, his own database, you will find yourself stuck with needing a webmaster to do ALL the updates on your site for ever !!  You should have asked this question BEFORE hiring this guy.
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Author Comment

by:kjudd
ID: 22640817
I haven't hired anyone yet. Just waiting a few days here to see if anynone else comes up with any ideas not already mentioned. I have a MYSQL server in place so if it came to that we would be ok but im surprised that there isn't a simpler way to accomplish this. Someone has to have had this issue prior.....ya know.
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by:scrathcyboy
scrathcyboy earned 50 total points
ID: 22641359
I don't think a CMS is the right solution for you, and there is no "magic bullet" easy way to update date in any  database like SQL or MySQL.  It takes technical knowledge to do that, so if the data stays in an SQL database, short of using a CMS, you would be best to write an ASP or PHP program where the clients or your staff fill in a fairly big and complete web form, of just the data that is to be changed each day, and have them add info that way.  THe PHP  or ASP will then stuff the new info into your database.  This of course is what a CMS does, but it is more complicated to learn and use.

You also mentioned changing the page layout -- that is the tough part, because there is no easy way to change a web page layout (like adding listings each day) by people who know nothing about web design.  Your entire page perhaps needs to be generated by PHP or ASP file which adds in the new listings from a database, and integrates it with HTML layout -- which is also what a CMS does.  Doing a webpage design from MS word looks really unprofessional, so you wouldn't be happy with that.

In short, there is no simple way for novices to create or add content manually to a well designed PRO looking page, without being also good at web design, even coding -- at least none that I know of.
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Author Closing Comment

by:kjudd
ID: 31502804
Thank you very much for your time and input on my question!
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by:xperttech
ID: 22647006
Kjudd,
One more word of  advise: Please make sure that whoever works on your form page project,  takes extra care on the form validation. "SQL injection" is a serious vulnerability issue if this is not done properly.
Regards,
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