CS3811 - Project 2005

2005 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 become 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. Only one team may select each project: first come, first served.
  6. You will have noted that this is 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 heavily deprecated.
  7. A presentation of your project will be done in class during the last week of classes, and we may have time for short presentations on the designs about March 7.
  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. You will provide a log listing time spent on the project.
  9. The project completion date is April 6. 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 byFebruary 28, and in final form, after consultation with the course intructor, by March 9. 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 by March 28.

The applications

The applications are being designed and implemented for clients 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 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. More time with the client may be available at the client's discretion. Time with the client will be included in your time log. You are expected to consult the client after design completion about implementation requirements. Client availability times will be determined by the client.

Short, client-provided descriptions of the applications follow.

Application 1: The Mount Allison Flora

We are constructing an inventory of all of the plants - trees, shrubs etc. - that are on campus. For each plant we are compiling data on place of origin, date of planting, what the plant is used for in different cultures (food, clothing, medicine etc.), various botanical features of note, and photographs of the plants at different times of the year. The data will be used on and off campus by students in different courses (Biology, Anthropology etc.), scholars, physical plant staff, and visitors (e.g. summer conference visitors) just interested in learning something about the plants they see around the place.

We need a database that can be easily accessed by these different users, who will probably have very different questions to ask. For example, one group might wish to know the location of all the plants of Chinese origin, whereas another might be interested in knowing when we planted native plants that have been used for medicinal purposes by first nations groups. Note: This client will be unavailable for a week from February 4.

Application 2: The San Felice Archaeological Excavation

This archaeological project is investigating a Roman villa site in southern Italy. The information recorded about the site falls into two main categories. First are the field records of the contexts (description of the layer or feature as they are excavated; these records will include things like a description of the soil, the methods used, and the relationship of one layer to others around it; the records will often include drawings and photographs). The second group of records are the finds (taken from the field, cleaned, divided by category, numbered, and described; often photographed individually; sometimes drawn).

A database is needed that will allow the information about the contexts and the finds to be transferred from the written field records and to be stored. This database should allow a user to combine searches for different elements in the study of the site (for example to show all examples of a particular type of find and to indicate their origins; or to show the range of finds connected with a specific layer or feature). In this way the archaeologists involved in the project will be able to study the relationships between the different contexts and objects and will be able to offer an interpretation of the site and its history.