CS3811 - Project 2003

2003 January 31

Important notes

  1. Your work will be done by a team of 2 or 3 and all members of each team will participate in all phases of the project. That is, each team member will contribute to the design, implementation and documentation. Each team member is expected to be familiar with mysql/php, and each team member must take part in writing the User Guide.
  2. Normally, all team members will receive the same grade for the project. Therefore, you will contact the course instructor if you do not participate fully with your team in the completion of any of the three phases of the project.
  3. The project forms a major part of the assessment in the course. Late submission of a part of the project will result in a penalty of .67 grade points per day for up to three days, after which that part of the project will be graded incomplete.
  4. The grade for the project will be based about equally on the results of each of the three phases.
  5. After carefully considering the project outline, your team will select one of the two application domains below and report this choice by email to the course instructor. A maximum of three teams may select each project: first come, first served.
  6. You will have noted that this is a an HTML document. The visual presentation of your documents will be considered in grading. TeX or HTML are acceptable for achieving good presentation. Word-processing systems may also provide suitable formatting, but are deprecated.
  7. A 25 minute presentation of your project will be done in class during the last week of classes, and we may have time for short (max 15 min) presentations on the designs after March 10.
  8. You will spend about five hours each week outside of class on this project (but you must not exceed 6-8 hours in any week). This provides at least 50 hours for completion of your part of the project, more time than necessary.
  9. The project completion date is April 8. On that date a final version of the Design document, the User Guide and a dump of your database will be handed in.

Project outline

You will use mysql to construct your database and you will construct a front-end using php. There are two choices for the application domain (see below), but the main elements are common:
First phase: Design.
You will consult with the client about what is expected from the database application. You will consider the attributes, entities, relationships, constraints and views which your system needs, and design an E/R (or sketch) model. This model will be translated into the design of a relational database. Your database design will include examples of the main elements of relational systems (primary keys, foreign keys, other constraints ...); normalization is expected. You will document the design, including normalization, and provide it to the client and course instructor in draft form on February 21, and in final form, after consultation with the course intructor, on March 7. The design document will not exceed 10 pages (single-spaced, minimum 12 pt type). In order to facilitate your work in the second phase of the project, we will examine features of mysql near the end of the design period.
Second phase: Implementation.
You will construct a mysql database and accompanying php forms using an assigned account on the Math/CS server. The implementation is required to follow your design document. Your forms will allow data entry, updating and access to the database. They will also enforce integrity. You will consult with the client and course instructor using a prototype during the implementation phase. At this time you will consider user views and security issues.
Third phase: User Guide.
Of course, this part of the project will be developed from the design document simultaneously with the second phase. It will include instructions on using mysql and/or your forms for naive users. You are not expected to give an instruction manual for mysql or SQL, but you should write clear explanations of how to get into and out of the program and access your forms, how to use the forms for entering/updating data and how to write simple SQL queries. The User Guide will not exceed 15 pages. A draft of the User Guide will be provided to the course instructor on March 28.

The applications

Each application has a client in the Mount Allison community. You will be provided with coordinates for the client of your application immediately after your team is assigned to an application. You will have up to 90 minutes available for meeting with your client over the course of the project. You may use up to 60 minutes of this time during the design phase. Available client meeting times will be determined by the client.

Application 1: The TGV System

French National Railways (SNCF) operates a system of very fast passenger trains throughout the country known as the TGV (for Train à Grand Vitesse). The project is to design a database that will store information about trains (including their locations), trips and passengers. The client will be a user of the system, and is very familiar with TGV's. Note: This client may be unavailable the week of February 3, contact the course instructor.

Application 2: The IT Knowledge Base

Mount Allison's Computing Services Department has information on a wide variety of problems and solutions for software and hardware. This project is to design a database that makes this information (or at least references to sources) available to members of the Department and eventually to others. The client will be a user of the system, and is very familiar with the information. Note: This client will be unavailable during the week of February 10.