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The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate two database management systems (DBMSs): the open-source product MySQL and the Microsoft product Access.
A chief purpose of middleware systems such as PHP and ASP is to support interactions with databases. Both PHP and ASP can be used with a variety of different DBMSs. The database products chosen for coverage in this text are the open-source offering MySQL and the Microsoft product Access. Price and availability drove both choices, along with the existence of online information and support. As an open-source offering, MySQL is available for virtually no cost. MS Access is not free, but we make the assumption that most readers and students already have Access as part of the Microsoft Office Suite. Online sources are abundant for both products.
Many academic institutions along with a growing number of commercial organizations chose MySQL because of a strategy of choosing open source. The PHP system has special functions just for MySQL, which we demonstrate in the Examples in this text.
The Access system is designed for individual or small group use. If and when you need to design and build a database for high-volume use, with complex transactions, you should consider other products. However, Access has sufficient functionality for you to learn the basics. As mentioned previously, all DBMSs have many features in common, most especially the use of SQL.
This chapter will feature the stand-alone use of MySQL and Access. You will make use of some of this when building your middleware applications, though most of your access (sorry, it is difficult to avoid use of this term) to the databases will be through PHP and ASP scripts to strengthen your knowledge of programming.