Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2002 11:21:57 -0400

Author: "Jason St. John"

Subject: RE: inventory


We've developed a MySQL database, as well, also with an online interface.
It's under serious revision, since I'm trying to do it without Java (some
professors are using non-Java-capable web browsers), but it uses PHP. One
puts PHP in HTML documents, and when a user requests the page, the server
crunches all the PHP, including queries to the database.

Our demo facility isn't very far from its origins as a toy closet, so the
database makes it easy to find out, say, what that great demo that Prof.
X used to do was, or which demos were done in previous years for a given
class. More obscure stuff, too, like "Are there demos which were done in
the past which never made it into the catalog?" or "Are there demos in the
catalog which we never use?"

Being able to update catalog entries, correct typo-ridden histories, and
list all the demos and classes for a given day (like "What do I need to
setup before I go home so it will be ready in the morning?") are also
excellent features.

My $(1/50)?: It's totally worth it to learn PHP, a SQL language, and HTML.
These are highly marketable job skills anyways!
Jason St. John
Boston University
Curator, Physics Demonstrations Collection

On 2002-07-19.10:36 sent:

Hi Kail,

We've set up a system using SQL as our database. We can access everything
from the internet. I wrote the pages in VBScript, Javascript, and HTML.
Our whole demo catalog is on this database and things like the table of
contents get updated automatically when we add new demos. It's a great
system, but the learning curve is really steep. You have to invest quite
a lot of time up front, or find money to hire a student to program it for
you. But once it's up and running, it's pretty sophisticated. We use it
to track all of our orders, all of our demos, our inventory, and even
special standing orders that some of our professors have. The interface
is easy enough for anyone to use and they don't need to know about the
database at all. At this point, everything we do is on-line. The orders
come in on-line and we get a daily list of what's ordered and what exports
we need to track down. If you want to know more, I'd be happy to help
you. Just email me directly.

In short, it's an excellent system with the capability to do just about
anything you can imagine. But it's time consuming to learn and it sure
helps if you've had other programming experience. If you don't have the
time, but have a bit of money, hiring a part-time student might be an

Have fun,

Angela Plagemann
Physics Demonstration Lab
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
(734) 936-2498

> -----Original Message-----
> From: kail secrest []
> Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2002 18:09
> To:
> Subject: inventory
> Hello!
> I was wondering what software other people used to keep track
> of demos and
> equipment in their departments. I have used Primasoft's
> Inventory Organizer
> Deluxe but have not been too pleased with it. Are there any
> better programs
> out there besides using regular database software like Excel?
> Thanks!
> Kail Secrest
> Ohio Wesleyan University-Physics Dept.
> Delaware,
> fax: 740-368-3999