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How to choose a web development framework when we would like to utilize a lot of PL/SQL program units legacy ?

Posted on 2014-11-17
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Last Modified: 2015-08-09
Our team is considering to learn modern web development framework
with repsonsive feature for future development,
currently we have a lot of PL/SQL program units (Stored procedures, functions and packages),
we think front-end using bootstrap (The UI style is great) would be nice,
but do not know how to choose the backend framework to match with that,
especially we need to integrate the PL/SQL stored programs,
and also we are suggested to make a survey on Zurb foundation,
please compare them also if you have any opinion between bootstrap and foundation.

please advise, thanks !
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Question by:Vincent Cheng
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by:Rob Jurd, EE MVE
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currently we have a lot of PL/SQL program units (Stored procedures, functions and packages),
we think front-end using bootstrap (The UI style is great) would be nice,
but do not know how to choose the backend framework to match with that,

There's a few things to consider:
1) Your team's skill level when it comes to working with front end UI
I personally haven't used Zend but having had done a bit of research it does look to be for all intents and purposes the same as bootstrap.  So does your team have html/css/js skills?  Bottstrap is right out of the box with the basics when it comes to html/css/js.  Then you can move into more complex extensions such as SASS, LESS that assist in the development process.

2) What do you need the framework to do for you?
Do you need a responsive website?  Do you need everything that Zend offers or just the basics that bootstrap does?

3) Your own experience using UI technologies
You don't want to reinvent the wheel so to speak by managing the large learning curve of a new technology, only to discover that it wasn't that far removed from what you already knew.

I've personally used bootstrap quite a bit and the documentation for it is well presented and easy to follow.  There is example code for each component so you're up and running very quickly.

All that said, we can move onto the server side, to integrate with your PL/SQL database.  What comes to mind first is that you're obviously all well versed in Perl.  Perl can be used to serve a webpage as well as pull data from a database and display it.  However, given you're asking this question in the first place, I take it you weren't aware of Perl being able to do this?
There are other options such as PHP, .NET (C#, VB etc) as well as Ruby, Java and many others.  PHP is by far one of the most used technologies when it comes to developing websites.  Again it comes back to your own experiences and programming skill as each language has it's pros and cons but also its own lexical style.
On top of languages such as PHP and .NET are frameworks that assist development and logical grouping of your code.  One that I've used a fair bit is CakePHP (www.cakephp.org) that separates the front end from the database using a separate "middle man" called a controller.  It's all written in PHP but you should weigh up whether it will bloat (add more code than you need) your site more than it's worth.  More on that if you're interested.

This question is along the lines of "how long is a piece of string" but you can narrow it down for me by describing exactly what you need to do with your SQL data.  e.g. do users need to update data from the webpage, will they require a login to use your site?  If you're simply showing the data with little or no input from a user then that has an impact too.
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by:Vincent Cheng
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Thanks for the reply, Rob.

Yes, you're right, let me describe more about our current situation.

Our current skill set is mainly at only PL/SQL, Oracle D2K, Java (but not quite familiar), but it still acceptable for us to learn something new, as you mentioned, try not too far, and that's why we are carefully surveying which to choose.

As mentioned, what we need is to integrate existing PL/SQL programs in Oracle database, for example, we have some PL/SQL packages which could do the validation, data process things, I think most server-side framework must have some mechanism to deal with basic CRUD stuff, and that's definitely fine with us, but besides that, could you tell us more about how most server-side frameworks co-work with PL/SQL programs ?

Example scenario :
like before inserting into a new record into a table, must call a PL/SQL function and passing some column values as parameters into this function to validate whether this record is allowed to be inserted.
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by:Rob Jurd, EE MVE
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how most server-side frameworks co-work with PL/SQL programs ?
When it comes to CRUD with server side frameworks, I'm mainly dealt with PHP.  It is as simple as a function call to interact with a database or send data to the browser.  

However, given you have your scripts in PL and PL can also be used to serve webpages, why would you not start there: http://perldoc.perl.org/CGI.html#DESCRIPTION.  Your webpages can call the required Perl CGI scripts to interface with your database.  

Keep it simple and use Perl.
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by:Vincent Cheng
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Thanks, Rub, sorry for the late reply.

Excuse me for my lacking knowledge for the web technology, is that possible to give simple examples for using Perl CGI to interact with a PL/SQL function that returns with a record type value, and compared with others language (PHP, JSP, Rail) to do the same thing ?

Sorry I know it might be quite a lot effort to do this, or should I create additional questions on requesting samples for each language separately ?

Merry Christmas and best wishes !
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by:Rob Jurd, EE MVE
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To do it in Perl will mean you don't have to rewrite the code in PHP, JSP, Rails etc.  i haven't used Perl that much but I understand what you're trying to achieve.  

The PL/SQL code becomes part of the CGI:  http://www.perlmonks.org/?node_id=144315

In the link, there are quite a few examples of how to post data to a perl cgi (specifically the example under "Cheap Database Output").  It shows how to take data posted from the client's browser along with interacting with a database.

In a sense, all you'd need to do is integrate the CGI component with the existing scripts, literally by combining the code.  Are the scripts you have encompassed in classes or objects that you could call from a CGI script, much like "DBI->connect" in the example?

Hard to know without seeing a sample script and what you want to happen with that script based on some input from the client.
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by:Vincent Cheng
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OK, thanks, Rob, we will prepare some sample codes for better understandings, will get back to you as soon as possible.
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Rob Jurd, EE MVE earned 500 total points
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Thanks, appreciate that. Given this was more than 6 months ago it would usage me some time to come back up to speed. If you can come back when you're ready to work on it full time, that would be best
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by:Vincent Cheng
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Thanks, Rob, will be back with samples in another new created question, see you there.
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