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Frequently Asked QuestionsAt the moment, no one has actually asked me any questions about INAN, so here are a few questions that I would probably ask about a similar project. If you have any questions, please send me e-mail.
FAQ as of 31 July 2000:
Q. Why another portal-type system written in PHP?
Q. What makes INAN different from other portal-type systems?
Q. Why, you Bobless heathen, are you working with [insert pejorative label for Microsoft here] software? Do you not realize that Apache/MySQL are going to Rule the World and rid us of the Evil that is IIS/MS SQL Server?
Q. How is a review (or any other item type) different from a news story, really?
Q: Why another portal-type system written in PHP?
A: The first reason is rather typical - I would like to increase my knowledge of web development in general and PHP in particular. The second reason is that while I saw lots of nice tools out there already, such as PHPNuke, Slash, and thatPHPware, none of them would talk to MS SQL Server 7.0, and some of them depend on Apache. Given that none of the programs I found on the web provide the review functionality that I would like, I would not only have to port them to IIS/MS SQL Server, I would also have to try and write in the other functionality I want. It seems more prudent to develop my own codebase from scratch to match my requirements.
Q: What makes INAN different from other portal-type systems?
A: INAN is designed for use by educators. My employer, the PT.NET project in the College of Education at Louisiana State University, is focused on preapring future teachers to use technology effectively in the classroom, and it is this audience that INAN is primarly designed for. In addition, rather than being designed around a story posting system (a la Slashdot), INAN is designed a review and commentary system.
Q: Why, you Bobless heathen, are you working with [insert pejorative label for Microsoft here] software? Do you not realize that Apache/MySQL are going to Rule the World and rid us of the Evil that is IIS/MS SQL Server?
A: There is a very simple, if not ideological, answer to this question. INAN has grown out of some work I am doing for my current employer, and we are a Microsoft shop on the server side. I can mumble and complain all that I want to, but this is not going to change. So I am left with two options - I can work on INAN in my free time at home in a Linux environment so that it can remain "pure", or I can write INAN so that it knows how to talk to MS SQL Server and get to develop at work, too. I am well aware that this is more pragmatic than some people would like, but I really want to use INAN to make my job easier to do. As a result, I am going to develop it so that it will run correctly on our NT servers. That said, I am doing my best to abstract database functionality to increase portability. Nothing in my code depends (so far as I know) on any unique functionality of either IIS 4.0 or MS SQL Server 7.0. Please also note that while I may develop for a proprietary target platform, my code is GPLed.
Q: How is a review (or any other item type) different from a news story, really?
A: The issue is one of granularity of information. You could certainly use a typical story posting system to share reviews or any other type of content, but that would greatly restrict your ability to search that information, as well as limit you to a lowest common denominator form of presentation logic. By using item types, such as reviews, much more functionality can be presented to the end user in a familiar context.
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