Databases

MySQLMySQL

If you've ever wanted to retrieve or store information on the web, you've probably thought you might need a database. MySQL is the world's most popular open-source database, and is easily set up here at Clemson.

One option for setting up a MySQL database is to use a workgroup within Blackboard. This option provides you with a MySQL database (version 5.0.26). To create the database, log in to Blackboard at https://bb.clemson.edu, click on the Workgroups tab, and select a workgroup in which you are a member. Then click Tools and choose the MySQL Database Tool option on the right. This will allow you to create the database and retrieve the credentials for connecting to the database. You also have access to phpMyAdmin, a tool that allows you to view and access the database through the Web.

Further step-by-step instructions can be found at http://www.clemson.edu/ccit/crlt/articles/mysql_mycle.html

Although the workgroup exists within Blackboard, the databases that can be created with Blackboard are available on an external server.

Another option is to create a MySQL database through the Webmaster Request Forms on the CCIT Web site. These MySQL databases use a slightly higher version (version 5.0.45) than the version available through Blackboard.

Please check the requirements of any software you may want to install or configure to help ensure that you are using the correct version.

MySQL Connector to Microsoft Access

If you are interested in manipulating your Blackboard MySQL data in a more familiar program, like Microsoft Access, you can also download the MySQL Connector/ODBC 3.51 for MySQL databases. Once you install it, it will show up in Access 2007. You will then need to configure the connector to use your MySQL database by following these steps:

  • Open an existing database or create a new database in Access 2007.
  • Go to the External Data tab, select "More" under the Import section, then choose ODBC Database.
    • Choose either Import (which will just give you a snapshot in time and won't update as the MySQL database updates) or Link (which will be updated, and is recommended).
    • Click the Machine Data Source tab, then the "New..." button.
    • Choose User Data Source and click Next.
    • Choose the "MySQL ODBC 3.51 Driver" and click Next.
    • Click Finish.
  • In the Connector/ODBC box that opens up:
    • Data Source Name: Put in something like the name of the workgroup or project for which the database was created.
    • Description: Optional, but put in some comments like what the database is for.
    • Server: bark.clemson.edu
    • User: whatever username is given in the MySQL database info page
    • Password: whatever password is given in the MySQL database info page
    • Database: use the drop-down menu to choose the database. Note that it lists all of the databases on bark, but does NOT give you access to it without the correct username and password (which are different for each database).
    • Test it just to make sure - you should see a message that says "Success; connection was made!"
    • Click OK, then OK again.
  • A window will then open up in Access that lists all the tables in that database. Select the ones you want to import or link to, and, depending on your security preferences, check the "Save password" box. Note that doing this will store the password for the database in a plain text file on your computer, so it could compromise the security of your database in case your computer is lost, stolen, or hacked. But, the alternative to not selecting this box is that you have to put in the MySQL database password every time you open up the Access database tables to work with the data (but just once after you open the database).
  • Your linked or imported tables will now appear in your Access database, and you can run reports and queries against them as if you had created them directly in Access.

You will still need to have some programming (for example, with PHP) to connect your web site to the MySQL database, but the MySQL ODBC Connector can be used to retrieve the results of information gathered from your application. You may request that CCIT Web Services do that for you if needed by filling out our request form.


Microsoft Access

Microsoft Access is a very powerful desktop tool which can be used to analyze data and track information. The design of MS Access files is primarily for single user access (one at time) and while there are some provisions for using MS Access databases in a shared environment, our Clemson web environment does not support MS Access database web applications. If your application requires multiple user access in a shared environment on the web, we recommend you use MySQL for your personal development or discuss other development resources with us.

Microsoft Access also allows a user to import or link to other types of databases (MySQL, Oracle, etc) using something caled ODBC - Open Database Connectivity. Using the familiar MS Access application environment, you can download or view your data for analysis. Information about the Microsoft Access ODBC connectors is available at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms710252(VS.85).aspx.