A browser-based tool for designing query interfaces to scientific databases Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/kh04dt28w

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  • Scientists in the biological sciences need to retrieve information from a variety of data collections, traditionally maintained in SQL databases, in order to conduct research. Because current assistant tools are designed primarily for business and financial users, scientists have been forced to use the notoriously difficult command-line SQL interface, supplied as standard by most database vendors. The goal of our research has been to establish the requirements of scientific researchers and develop specialized query assistance tools to help them query data collections across the Internet. This thesis describes our work in developing HyperSQL, a Web-to-database scripting language, and most importantly, Query Designer, a user-oriented tool for designing query interfaces directly on Web browsers. Current browsers (i.e., Netscape, Internet Explorer) do not easily interoperate with databases without extensive "CGI" (Common Gateway Interface) programming. HyperSQL is a scripting language that enables database administrators to construct forms-based query interfaces intended for end-users who are not proficient with SQL. Query results are formatted as hypertext-clickable links which can be used to browse the database for related information, bring up Web pages, or access remote search engines. HyperSQL query interfaces are independent of the database computer, making it possible to construct different interfaces targeting distinct groups of users. Capitalizing on our experience with HyperSQL, we developed Query Designer, a user-oriented tool for building query interfaces directly on Web browsers. No experience in SQL and HTML programming is necessary. After choosing a target database, the user can build a personalized query interface by making menu selections and filling out forms--the tool automatically establishes network connections, and composes HTML and SQL code. The automatically generated query form can be used immediately to issue a query, customized, or saved for later use. Results returned from the database are dynamically formatted into hypertext for navigating related information in the database.
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