in General, Libraries/Info Sci, Tech

Wanted: Database front end solution

At work we’re in the process of digitizing a local special collection, to be made accessible online.

We plan to get all the relevant data in a MySQL database, and are looking at front end options. We’d like it to handle two things in particular:

1. Allow remote login and editing of records, so the current collection holder can do some maintenance.

2. Allow restricted access to certain items. For example, the public at large can see just some items in the collection. Other items can only be viewed after some users log in.

I realize its vague so far, but I don’t have a lot of other details yet. Anybody know of a solution? Open source is preferable.

I could code #1 on my own, but I’m not quite confident enough in my abilities to make sure that #2 is completely secure.

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  1. I don’t know of anything out-of-the-box that does all of that. Which operating system are you working with? Are you looking to make a web application? What you’re looking for is often custom-made. The security features of your application will depend greatly on what was compiled into your web server, DB server, and middleware. My knowledge of SQL is a bit rusty because I haven’t worked with it in a while. I believe it’s possible to restrict access to certain tables. Hope that helps a bit.

  2. Thanks Julian, I appreciate the reply. We have a number of OS choices on our servers – I admit I’m not sure which one this will be set up on. And yes, it would be web enabled.

    Custom-made is what I was afraid of. I think our requirements are just too specific and niche-like. I will look into restricting access to tables, that might get my brain moving in the right direction.

  3. Perhaps you don’t need *one* solution to handle these requirements. For instance, you could use a graphical MySQL administration interface like MySQL Administrator ( for maintaining the data and use a simple canned front end for the public at large to view the data on the Web. In my experience, it’s much easier to implement two purpose-built tools than to find one tool that does it all right out of the box.

  4. Hi Chad,

    Here at FPL we have a young adult review crew page where teens can submit book reviews. There’s an html form for the teens to submit the review to our YA librarian. (We don’t want them accessing our database directly.) The librarian then copies and pastes the review into a separate, staff-only form I’ve created which uses php to post to our MySQL database. The data can then be searched by genre. (I suppose you could use whatever search criteria you want — I’m new to php so this is all I’ve got set up right now.) And there’s also a random review generator on the review crew page. (

    I haven’t done anything like what you’re trying for in item #2, but I’m sure there’s got to be a way to use php to do this. Maybe use two tables — one searchable by everyone and one searchable by people who log in? Just a thought.

    Hope this helps.