What book and platform for the Technology Course?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : USF E-Commerce : One Thread

I am trying to put together a combination of curriculum material and systems to support the E-Business Technology course, other E-Business courses in the MBA program at USF, and the USF Entrepreneurs Resource Center. Most of our MBA students have very little programming experience or technical background.

One possible technical platform is AOL Server and Oracle running on some variety of Unix. The server would be located at a professionally managed Web hosting facility.

The advantages of using this platform come from the availability of a good text (Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing by Philip Greenspun), detailed course material from MIT, and an extensive open source software library (the Ars Digita Community System) for community and e-commerce applications (see www.photo.net and www.arsdigita.com).

The AOL Server/Oracle combination appears to provide a relatively simple platform for teaching database backed Web site development and exposing the general design principles. Most programming is in TCL, a simple interpreted language that appears well suited for use by non technical developers. MBA students would not be expected to install or configure the AOL Server or Oracle.

Another advantage of this approach is low cost. AOL Server and TCL are freely available. We will need an Oracle license. Students developing Web sites will not need specialized programming tools such as Cold Fusion.

The draw backs that I see to using this platform are that although AOL and Ars Digita use AOL Server extensively, there are only a few other companies using AOL Server. Consequently AOL Server related skills might not be directly marketable. There are some features of AOL Server that are very similar to Microsoft Active Server Pages. TCL is fairly widely used, and Oracle is very widely used.

Other alternatives that I see include:

a) Using Apache instead of AOL Server and PHP in place of TCL. This has the advantage of providing more commonly used tools and the disadvantage of not matching Greenspun's book, course materials or running the Ars Digita Community System software without extensive modification.

b) Looking for another book/software combination that uses a more widely used platform.

Please let me know what you think. Thank you in advance for your help.

-- Chuck Ehrlich (chuck@ehrlichorg.com), October 31, 1999

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