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Simple Tools for Creating Web-based Data Entry

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Spring 2001

Brent L. Brock, Konza Prairie

Web-based data entry, query, and retrieval are useful for a variety of functions. However, development of such databases can be time consuming and intimidating to those lacking adequate programming or scripting skills. We recently developed a simple Web-based data entry and retrieval prototype for the Konza Environmental Education Program using database connectivity tools available in Microsoft FrontPage 2000 and FrontPage server extensions. This prototype currently allows students to enter field data collected at Konza Prairie Biological Station into a centralized database using a standard Web browser. The data is automatically combined with data collected by students at other schools for further analysis.

The FrontPage tools are relatively easy to use despite vague documentation. The first step is to create a form for data entry and save it in an active server page. FrontPage has a comprehensive toolkit for form design and allows the user to set ranges and rules for data fields for on-the-fly integrity checking. The next step is to assign a database connection and table for data storage. FrontPage has many options for form handling and can even create a new database connection and table that stores the data in an Access database within the current Web. For our prototype we created an ODBC system database with multiple tables so that each data entry form has its own table within the Access database. These tools allow individuals with moderate computer skills to relatively easily create web-based data entry forms and databases without any SQL or scripting skills. In our current prototype data query is limited to retrieving a table of all data contained in a database table. However, we will soon implement more sophisticated query tools that will allow students to view summary results of their research projects with a click of a button.