What might be best to learn?

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What might be best to learn?

Postposted on Wed Jul 07, 2004 7:54 pm

(Note - the following is long, but I would greatly appreciate insight, I need some focus and opinions on what to focus on)

Ive reached a point at my job that they are giving me projects to start working on outside of the senior desktop support role I have held.

They know my interests lie in application development, but outside of HTML, my knowledge is limited. I have taken classes in C, I have dabbled in VB.Net, C#, and PHP/MySQL, but its been just that, dabbling to get a feel for things..

The firsts projects I am working on are to revamp our Help Desk Ticket Tracking system.

Right now its an Access 97 database and while I dont really know squat about access, its a good starter project and where I work, Access is good to know..

My dream is eventually to make a web based ticket tracking system, and due to that, I imagine PHP might be best to get into, but that may not be neccesarily true and I also am not sure such a project would be approved.

No matter what I choose to learn, it will be on my own, and I need to focus on one language and master it. I would like to be able to do web projects, I would like to deal with databases, I would like to be able to sorta do a jack of all trades type stuff...

What might be most benefical to learn? Consider me more or less a beginner but also a quick learner.

C#? This was reccomended to my by the Applications Manager, he also mentioned it might not be best to start with.
VB.Net? Also reccomended, but because we will be doing a conversion from Office 97 to Office 2003 soon, and macros will need to be written, little apps, etc.
PHP/MySQL? for the web based side of things... other? We are about to start an intranet project. Using Sharepoint? I beleive. This could be helpful for those types of little applets etc

ASP.Net?

Something Else???????

I am leaning twords PHP, but that might not be be the best to learn in my environment. Any thoughts at all would be appreciated.

*Note - setting up a server with IIS or Apache/PhP/MySql is not a problem at all. If I go php, I might even just make it a linux server so I can hone my skills on that as well.
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Postposted on Wed Jul 07, 2004 8:11 pm

Well... if you want to stay MS-centric, C#/IIS/.NET/SQL Server is the way to go. Apache/PHP/Perl/MySQL would be the UNIX/Linux-centric path.

While I don't care for MS's business practices, and think their software quality (especially in the area of security, duh!) could use a lot of work, my pragmatic side says that from a "marketability of job skills" standpoint, Windows currently has the edge. This could change over the next few years though...

It's a tough call... but it sounds like you're working in a MS shop, so the MS approach may be the path of least resistance for you.
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Postposted on Wed Jul 07, 2004 8:35 pm

Yeah, thats part of my problem...

I have this nagging feeling that the linux/unix path might be the way to go... and might be best to learn for the future. It also certainly easier to get the software for.

But right now, its the Microsoft path that will help most.
ugh ugh ugh..... I guess it might be best to go down the C# path and when the time comes I need a SQL server, I can bug the Application Manager at work. - maybe

I imagine I can and need to learn ALOT of C# before I need the server.
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Postposted on Wed Jul 07, 2004 9:10 pm

Well, you can always ease your way into MS SQL Server with <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/sql/msde/default.asp">this</a>...

Or, how's this for an option: Pursue the MS path at work, and set up a system at home to learn the Linux way...
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Postposted on Wed Jul 07, 2004 9:44 pm

Oh if it only were that easy...

Then again, if I only focus on one thing in either place, I might be able to get away with it.. ;)

If I werent married with two tech jobs, this would be SO much easier.. :)

I appreciate the insight thus far...
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Postposted on Thu Jul 08, 2004 8:33 am

Learn what is going to keep you that job, but once you have learned the techniques of programming, switching to a different language is typically not very difficult. I switch between four languages on a regular basis, sometimes withing a single day. (VB, 68000 asm, C, HC08 asm,...) they all have thier pros and cons, but apart from VB, these don't rely on an OS apart from the one I have written.

Beyond the language is the OS, and knowing what system calls you can use to get the job done. That is the real diference between Win/Linux, the system calls. Those are what takes the time to learn.

Personally I would look at VB.NET, it is less anal than some languages, and can give you very fast results if you know what you are doing. It has limitations, but when dealing with databases and user interfaces, it is the cat's meow.

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Postposted on Thu Jul 08, 2004 9:16 am

Start with ASP IMO.

Also start with something like this http://www.liberum.org/ which is open source backend can be SQL, modify it, add your own touch

playing with other people's stuff can be fun way to learn and pick up dirrty habits ;)
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Postposted on Thu Jul 08, 2004 10:00 am

why no stick with access.

It's a lot more powerfull than most people give it credit for.

You can use it to setup a web based system through data access pages.

On top of that you can still learn both VB and SQL from within Access.

I notice you haven't mentioned Java. That would give the best MS / Linux cross compatibility and with JDBC you can connect to any database on any platform (so long as it's got drivers). I wrote a Class for JDBC access a few years ago and it only took a 150 lines of code, and allowed you to connect to any JDBC supported database and retrieve any format of data.

PM me if you'd like to see a copy.
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Postposted on Thu Jul 08, 2004 10:04 am

Access is simply not as reliable as a "real" database, and can be a nightmare when dealing with databases that are accessed concurrently by multiple users. I really don't understand why so many people continue to use Access as a database back-end, when a real SQL-based database engine (MSDE) is available from Microsoft for free.
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Postposted on Thu Jul 08, 2004 10:32 am

I agree, Access sucks as backend. VERY good for starting out. IMO Java sucks, too! ASP & PHP are the best IMO.

This article should get you some ideas of what to expect....

http://techupdate.zdnet.com/techupdate/ ... ag_IT.html
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Postposted on Thu Jul 08, 2004 10:33 am

And here's some new cutting edge stuff from MS...

http://lab.msdn.microsoft.com/express/default.aspx
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Postposted on Thu Jul 08, 2004 10:36 am

just brew it! wrote: I really don't understand why so many people continue to use Access as a database back-end, when a real SQL-based database engine (MSDE) is available from Microsoft for free.
People use Access in a Production environment :o I thought that was just for basic programming classes :wink:

At my company we use VB.net, SQL server for a backup database, with AS400 as our main database. We also have a Java tool called Jacada that creates screen scrapes of AS400 screens for use on the web. I would say that SQL and VB.net aren't going anywhere soon, but it's hard to say how many AS400 jobs there will be 10 years from now.
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Postposted on Thu Jul 08, 2004 10:57 am

These are really my stepping stones...

Access97 and 2003 I have to learn, I know the basics, but the code and macros and intricacies, thats what I need help with. I imagine doing VB would be great for that...

Its outside of Access that I need to decide what direction to take. Reading all this and considering what we use here, I think from what I have read VB.net might be the way to go. That will lead me into SQL server which we use here etc.

I think the most important thing is for me to learn something that can add value to my job here. So I can participate in the larger projects coming. If I have made progress by the time its time for the intranet development at the end of the year, they will trust me to have a larger part and provide me with the resources I need including ASP training or whatever is needed.. Right now, I think its a test to see what I can do.. I just dont want to bite off more than I can chew.

Maybe my thinking is off, but that is why I came here.. :)
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Postposted on Thu Jul 08, 2004 11:35 am

I think you are on the right track. I personally prefer things like Helpdesk to be web-based but not all users want to go extra step to enter a new ticket. Maybe you can create a form if they use Outlook so that they can fill in a new ticket from there. And then check the status from the intranet/helpdesk site.
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Postposted on Thu Jul 08, 2004 11:45 am

If you are going to seriously use Access at all, avoid Macros like the plague. They are evil and a monster kludge to boot.
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Postposted on Thu Jul 08, 2004 1:09 pm

All our databases will be eventually moved to SQL...

but for now, they are all access97, so in learning it and the macros, I can better support them, and therefore when its time to convert them I will be better prepared...

We have an office 2003 rollout coming up, then the intranet project, and THEN it will be time for the databases... so prolly early next year..

that is, unless i learn this stuff quicker and can do them on the side during everything else.
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