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Home > Technical > Databases spacer

Databases

Section editor
APC
resource.centre@apc.org

Introduction

Databases are an important tool for managing information, keeping track of contacts and projects, sharing information with remote users, and even automating the updating of your web site. The resources listed below should assist you in choosing a database system and planning a structure which meets your organization's needs.

A good starting point is TechSoup's Database Page, which offers articles, case studies and worksheets on databases for not-for-profits. If you are planning to develop a database-driven web site, the ItrainOnline section on Web Programming includes additional resources to help you.

Databases - Introduction

Database planning guide

Developed by: CompuMentor
Type of resource: MS Word document
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This guide from CompuMentor is designed to help small and medium-sized nonprofit organizations develop a database plan and purchase or build a database that meets their needs. The guide includes planning worksheets and tools for evaluating different database products.

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Free Access Tutorial

Developed by: BrainBell
Type of resource: web guide
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This series of nine web-based tutorials covers the basics of using Microsoft Access, including understanding what a database is, developing queries, working with forms and formulating reports and macros. Each tutorial covers a series of specific topics and ends with a review of content and a quiz to test your knowledge. Though there is no download option or printer-friendly version, the tutorial┤s clear writing makes the clicking worthwhile.

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Introduction to Databases and MS Access

Developed by: APC
Type of resource: MS Word files
Target audience: General, Trainers
Cost: Free access

This workshop kit for trainers includes an introduction to databases and MS Access. Part of the Multimedia Training Kit.

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OpenICDL

Developed by: Go-Open Campaign / ICDL Foundation Africa
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"OpenICDL is an open source project that aims to develop and maintain a Free/Open Source version of the training materials used to ready students for the International Computer Driving License certification.\" Materials cover Basic Concepts of IT, Using a Computer and Managing Files (K Desktop Environment), Word Processing (OpenOffice.org Writer), Spreadsheets (OpenOffice.org Calc), Databases (OpenOffice DB), Presentations (OpenOffice.org Impress) and Information and Communications (Mozilla 1.4 and Ximian Evolution 1.4). Materials are available in HTML and PDF versions.

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Techsoup Database Page

Developed by: Techsoup.org "The Technology Place for Nonprofits"
Type of resource: Web articles, case studies, worksheets.
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Worksheets, articles and case studies on databases, along with an interactive "questions of the day" section. Among the wide range of topics covered are "Basic Database Assessment," "Database Needs Assessment Questionnaire," ""Avoiding Disaster: The Database Planning Process," and "Obtaining Donated Database Software."

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Databases - Choosing a database

Choosing a Database System that Works for You

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Short article by Michelle Murrain looking at options for membership databases for non-profits.

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A review of open source content management systems

Developed by: Open Advantage / Elliot Smith
Type of resource: web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Open Advantage's Elliot Smith evaluated six content management systems (Drupal, Exponent CMS, Lenya, Mambo, Plone and Silva) at length. Rather than comparing features for each system, he opted to take a web developer's point of view and examined system flexibility from four vantage points: the default installation capabilities and features; additional features available and ease of installation for such features; template flexibility allowing for easy changes in the look and feel of a site; and "elegant" code - code that may have design patterns for future modular development and is well-commented. The resulting evaluations are quite detailed, and readers will have a clear view of capabilities, which CMS is suited for which "type" of site, and a contrasting of strengths and weaknesses of the different systems.

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20 Point CMS Test

Developed by: Open Advantage / Elliot Smith
Type of resource: web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This test was developed by Elliot Smith of Open Advantage in order to carry out a systematic evaluation for content management systems. However, the 20 tasks laid out in the test are a useful resource on their own, because they allow website developers to consider different aspects of CMS flexibility, including areas that frequently are unexplored until the site grows: for example, how easy is it for users to self-register, the ability to restrict access to different information types, testing roll-back or reinstalls, easy construction and determination of within-site links, accessible event archiving, making printed versions from dynamic pages, and if site appearance can be changed via cascading style sheets. A useful tool for anyone contemplating an interactive website.

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Open Source CMS

Developed by: Open Source CMS
Type of resource: web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

As it states, this site encourages you "try before you install" by allowing administrator access to multiple PHP-based free and open source software content management systems, in their default installations. The long list of installations to choose from includes what the site terms as "portal" CMS such as Drupal, Joomla, Civic Space, PostNuke (and dozens more) as well as blogs, wikis, e-learning, e-commerce and group ware systems. To see which system best suits your needs, you can explore the look and feel of the CMS backend for two hours, before the systems are automatically reinstalled. The site includes forums for each CMS as well as FAQ's.

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Databases - Building a database site

Building a Database-Driven Web Site Using PHP and MySQL

Developed by: WebmasterBase.com
Type of resource: Web articles
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This series of web articles covers installation, getting started with MySQL, getting started with PHP, and publishing MySQL data on the web. The articles form thm first four chapters of a book by Kevin Yank, which is available commercially.

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Database-Driven Web Sites

Developed by: TechSoup
Type of resource: Web articles
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

New TechSoup article

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Planning a Database-Driven Web Site

Developed by: Tech Soup
Type of resource: website
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This article offers the steps you need to follow to go from the idea of a database-driven Web site to actual design, development, and implementation, in step-by-step format.

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Databases - Content management systems

Commissioning an open source content management system

Developed by: Steve Cowie
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Steve Cowie looks at key issues to take into account when adopting an open source content management system, and offers an overview of some of the most popular systems.

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Comparing Open Source CMSes: Joomla, Drupal and Plone

Developed by: idealware
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

"Open source content management systems can make creating and managing your website a lot easier - and there's no licensing fee involved. But which should you use? We look carefully at Joomla, Drupal, and Plone to compare their strengths and weaknesses."

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Content Management Problems and Open Source Solutions

Developed by: Optaros
Type of resource: PDF
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This white paper explores content management systems (CMS) available from the open source community to fulfill a variety of information scenarios: the online brochure, the news periodical, collaborative spaces, wikis, and online communities. The paper also examines support solutions and why one would want to chose an open source CMS. One big advantage of open source CMS is that the offer the opportunity to deliver tailored content management solutions without the high licensing or management fees associated with commercially-licensed or hosted software. This paper from Optaros White Papers and Reports, available in PDF format, provides an excellent basis for choosing the most appropriate CMS for your needs.

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Drupal

Developed by: Drupal
Type of resource: Software tool
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Drupal is an open-source platform and content management system for building dynamic web sites offering a broad range of features and services including user administration, publishing workflow, discussion capabilities, news aggregation, metadata functionalities using controlled vocabularies and XML publishing for content sharing purposes.

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Editor's choice: Step Two Content Management Articles

Developed by: Step Two
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Articles from Step Two Designs on topics relating to content management. While not specifically aimed at the NGO sector, these short articles will be of use to those new to content management, as well as to more experienced users.

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ActionApps

Developed by: APC
Type of resource: Content management software
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

The ItrainOnline site is driven by ActionApps, an OpenSource content management system developed by APC.

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ActionApps Admin Training

Developed by: APC
Type of resource: MS Word document
Target audience: Trainers
Cost: Free access

Guide by Anna Feldman aimed at trainers who running workshops on ActionApps administration.

Download
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Back-End - A Bilingual Content Management System

Developed by: OpenConcept Consulting
Type of resource: Open Source content management software
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

Back-End is a bilingual, open source CMS built on the PHP scripting language and the MySQL database. Back-End is particularly aimed at advocacy organisations, and includes a suite of tools that allow you to create and manage polls and petitions.

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How to Evaluate a Content Management System

Developed by: Step Two Designs / James Robertson
Type of resource: web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

A comprehensive document from Step Two Designs detailing all angles of content management considerations: technical specifications, authoring needs, content management, publication and presentation, and more. The article does not suggest a particular CMS, and is written for organisations or businesses who might be hiring a developer or vendor for their specific CMS needs. It's objective is to help organisations assess CMS needs in a systematic way, before approaching vendors or adopting a system that will not grow with them, or does not prioritise the content creation needs.

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Databases - General

SD Webworks: Databases

Developed by: IISD
Type of resource: Web article
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This article from ItrainOnline partner IISD looks at questions such as "Why Incorporate a Database?", "What it Entails" and "Cost and Complications." A case study and links to external resources are included.

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Backend: Databases

Developed by: Webmonkey
Type of resource: Web site
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

This Webmonkey section provides online tutorials on topics ranging from "Your First Database" to "Using Oracle with PHP".

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EcoLegis: Cross-cultural Collaboration and Dealing with Databases

Developed by: FARN
Type of resource: Web case study
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

The EcoLegis environmental legal access facility is the result of a cooperative effort between FARN in Argentina and REC in Hungary. Both organizations had legal databases that they had been developing on an ongoing basis since 1993 for FARN and 1995 for REC. While several similarities and positive differences existed to make the project viable, a certain amount of collaboration was needed to launch an integrated project online.

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Electronic Journals and Electronic Resources Library Management workshop materials

Developed by: INASP
Type of resource: Website with PDFs and other downloadable documents
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

These training materials are designed as a 5 day hands-on workshop with a mixture of presentations, computer based hands-on exercises, small group work and discussions. However, all of the modules used in the workshop are designed to be stand alone and so could be put together in any combination that was felt to be appropriate. The workshop and its materials are designed to accompany the PERii programme but can be used outside of this. All materials are in a mixture of MS Word and PowerPoint formats. The files have been compressed to aid quick download.

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Managing Information Using Databases

Developed by: AWORC
Type of resource: MS Word and PowerPoint files.
Target audience: Trainers, General, Women
Cost: Free access

Materials from the Asian Women's Resource Exchange's 2001 WENT training course. Modules consist of handout and PowerPoint presentations on topics including database concepts, the database development cycle, developing database specifications and Web-database integration.

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Yenza! Taking Databases Online

Developed by: National Research Foundation, South Africa
Type of resource: Web site, downloadable MS PowerPoint presentation
Target audience: Trainers, General
Cost: Free access

This site is intended to help users decide whether and how to develop online databases and database-driven web sites. Includes resources and links on Cold Fusion, MS Access, PHP and other web database-related tools.

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Databases - Software

e-base

Developed by: techrocks
Type of resource: Working database
Target audience: General
Cost: Free access

E-base is a free database built for non-profit organisations. You can download and use it straight off, or you can modify it if you have the commercial FileMaker Pro programme.

There is also a good user community which will help with any problems that you may have. Highly recommended for small organisations.

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