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  • Data sheets/ excel > Dw > Website?

    I'm only curious for right now, but what I would like to be able to do is say;
    -Make an excel spreadsheet with possible columns being Item, Description, Price.
    -Then take that information and place it into a webpage.

    Here's where I think they roadblock is.
    -I want the content to be designed with CSS(3) for site consistency once imported on the site.
    -Anytime I change or add information in Excel, it will automatically update on the site without having to open up Dreamweaver or an FTP.

    P.s. - I have no working knowledge of web design outside of HTML, CSS3 and some Flash. Just want to know if this can be done.

    Thanks
    Mike

  • #2
    I do know that you can export an Excel doc as a web page.

    I'm not sure how you would go about automatically updating it to the web though.
    "Go ahead, make your logos in PS. We charge extra money to redraw your logo into vector art so it can be printed on promotional product. Cha CHING! " - CCericola

    Comment


    • #3
      You can use a database migration tool to sync the Excel data with a mysql database.
      "I used to wonder what friendship could be, Until you all shared its magic with me." - Jesus Christ

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      • #4
        Yes and no, Michael, but it requires knowledge beyond HTML/CSS.

        You stated that you didn't want to use FTP. Why? That's pretty much the standard way of moving most anything across the Internet including moving information to a web server. If it's not on the web server or in a database tied to the server, you can't serve the data, so FTP is never a legitimate problem — it's just part of the process.

        If you're running a Joomla CMS, there's an available module called AVI Data Tables that will dynamically convert spreadsheet-exported CSV files (likely uploaded via FTP) into HTML tables. You can apply whatever style sheets you'd like to the HTML. I suspect there are similar modules for other CMSs, like Drupal, but I'm not familiar with them.

        I've written quite a few AppleScripts embedded with Regular Expressions to sort through tabbed delimited files exported from spread sheets. These scripts wrap custom HTML around the data, which once again, can be formatted by CSS in any way possible and uploaded as static files to the web server.

        A little bit of knowledge of server-side scripting will take you even further. Using those same spreadsheet-generated files, you can upload them to a database as Obsidian86 said, then access that data dynamically for inclusion into, say, php-embedded HTML template files.

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        • #5
          Use data migration tool, hope it helps to you.

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          • #6
            What has been described is pretty much the purpose of a server-side programming language like php, java, ruby, etc in combination with a database like oracle, mysql, etc. Everything else is simply a hack that scales horribly, less efficient and increasingly difficult to maintain. Designers getting in over their heads than finding a hacky ass solution that will end up costing people more in the long run – if I had a dime…

            Originally posted by MichaelWied
            -I want the content to be designed with CSS(3) for site consistency once imported on the site.
            This is not a resume… the buzzwords can be dropped. Funny because most people who use the term CSS3 and HTML5 don't even know what they are. None the less, CSS has little relevance to the problem at hand.

            Has the client specifically asked for this implementation (spread sheet) or is that the solution that has been recommended to a clients business goals?
            Last edited by tZ; 04-21-2012, 05:25 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by tZ View Post
              Everything else is simply a hack that scales horribly, less efficient and increasingly difficult to maintain. Designers getting in over their heads than finding a hacky ass solution that will end up costing people more in the long run – if I had a dime…
              It kind of depends upon the situation tZ.

              For example, we do lots of work for government agencies. One of these agencies stocks hundreds of thousands of fish in hundreds of lakes and reservoirs. Their field personnel keep track of it all in an Oracle database. The agency wants parts of this information displayed on their website so fishermen know what's been stocked in what waterbodies. The information changes daily, so writing a server-side script to dynamically pull the information from the database is, for all practical purposes, a necessity.

              This same agency, however, also has several dozen other programs with biologists who keep track of various things like waterfowl counts, license vendor changes, invasive species test results, etc.. Each of the biologists in charge of each of these programs keep their own personal spreadsheets. These spreadsheets are never consistent, always change and only need to be posted to the agency's website once every six months to a year. Between updates, new columns might added or deleted — no consistency whatsoever.

              In this second case, the agency has a guy who manages the website for them and keeps it up-to-date. He's not a programmer, but he knows his way around HTML. Rather than write a server-side script and design a database that would attempt (and likely fail) to keep up with all the random structural changes in all these random spreadsheets, it was just far easier to develop a stand-alone set of regular expressions to parse the data from the spreadsheets, wrap html around all the tables, rows and cells, then upload those static files to the web server as fully formatted HTML. This guy can tweak the RegEx as needed, make the one-off fixes by hand, preview it on his computer, upload it to the server and be done with it until that particular set of data arrives again a year later in a, usually, greatly changed spreadsheet.

              Yeah, we could just as easily have built that RegEx into a php script, but given the random nature of the data, the advantages of being able to make tweaks locally and the web guy's lack of experience in php, the best solution was uploading formatted static files.

              That was a long explanation, but I've found that each client, problem and work flow situation is different. I've also found that the most simple and straight-forward solutions are usually the best. In some instances, I tell clients, yeah, we can automate that process, but it will cost you several thousand dollars, plus the costs of whatever future revisions you need. Or you can just open the file on the server once a week, spend three minutes and make the changes by hand. I guess the real trick in all of this is that the designer/developer has to have the necessary expertise, insight and flexibility to make decisions on which is the best and most efficient approach instead of automatically defaulting to the standard go-to solution that he or she feels most comfortable with.

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              • #8
                I understand exactly what your saying. In some cases solutions that might be thought of as unprofessional to most might be the most appropriate. It all depends. Which lead me to asking the reasoning behind using a spread sheet as opposed to another more "appropriate" solution. If the reason is budget fine… I guess. However, I would take it as a chance to (I hate this word) upsell to more appropriate, extensible and scalable solution when possible.

                Questions to ask the client:
                On average how many products in the spread sheet
                Would there be any plans to being able search for products based on data in the spread sheet

                Both of these questions come down to a scalability and performance issue. For example, if the spread sheet has say 100 products than using a server-side language to parse it and even search isn't to big of a deal. However, several thousand it is a very poor means of maintaining the data and will be directly reflected in performance. Given very few products the spread sheet implementation would be acceptable. However, as number of products grows the solution will become less and less appropriate. So thinking about the future costs would actually be saved now than having to redo the site x months/years down the line. That is how I would present it at least.

                Now of course you need to have that initial understanding to even know the questions to ask…
                Last edited by tZ; 04-21-2012, 07:25 PM.

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                • #9
                  This is where the advantages of possessing dictatorial power over others would come in handy. As it is though, a contractor hired to oversee the building of a specific web app has sharply limited influence over larger processes being tapped into.

                  I suppose under the above situation, I could make an appointment with the agency director and tell him that I, a graphic designer/web developer contractor hired for a web-related project, has determined that the long-established work processes of dozens of field biologists in the agency need to be standardized into a more streamlined process to facilitate efficiency in data management.

                  As a practical matter, though, I've learned that arguments regarding efficiency to government bureaucrats are not greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm. In the absence of profit/loss incentives that force change in private businesses, the inertia of long-established bureaucratic processes are nearly impossible to change. In other words, it's often best to work within the practical limitations of the problem — despite the temptation to address the bigger issues.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by <b>
                    As a practical matter, though, I've learned that arguments regarding efficiency to government bureaucrats are not greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm. In the absence of profit/loss incentives that force change in private businesses, the inertia of long-established bureaucratic processes are nearly impossible to change. In other words, it's often best to work within the practical limitations of the problem — despite the temptation to address the bigger issues.
                    Preaching to the choire. I work for a company that over the course of 15 year built their own preprocessing language similar to PHP that directly integrates with an Oracle database with C. The fact of the matter is it was a good solution 10+ years ago but now not so much. Especially considering the people who built the core pieces are long gone. However, so much software relies on it that it is hard to get away from and use in newer projects even. Though there are several fundamental things wrong with it in comparison to what newer technologies offer we still use it. The reality is it would take years of work to convert everything to something new which isn't at all practical. While maybe not ideal it is very stable considering the lines of C is in the hundreds of thousands. That speaks a lot in regards to the quality behind it which makes it acceptable I guess.
                    Last edited by tZ; 04-21-2012, 08:35 PM.

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