french version    ASP.NET, SQL Server and XML

Feeding forms using ASP.NET, SQL Server and XML fields

We developed an ASP.NET application whose aim is to feed SQL Server database tables containing one or several xml fields.

This is very useful when user have to fill a form which has to be stocked in a database and that some form fields frequently change and you don't want to modify your table structure every time.
You can stock some datas in standard relational format when they are not supposed to change frequently and add one or several xml fields in your table to stock varying datas.

The difficulty is to be able to quickly and simply develop forms to stock, update and print xml datas without to bother too much about xml complexity.

That's what we attended to achieve.

We first developed an application for medical institutions (for fees allocation) that didn't used xml but used a postgresql database and php (that application is used for several years in a quite satisfactory way and managed more than six thousands complicated applications during that time). We often had to change table structures (most of the time by adding fields or changing the use of existing fields) and the need for a more flexible system appeared, so we translated that application to and SQL Server which offers its native xml data type.

How it works:

You can open sessions from a starting date to an ending date.
Then applicants open an application on internet, they receive a code by email and then fill html forms depending on the kind of demand they are applying to.
Once they validate their forms, some experts evaluate applicants on internet.
And then, during a meeting, all applications are accepted or rejected regarding experts advices.
The life of the application after the acceptation (until accounts generation) is managed by an access application that could be adapted at a low cost.
That application is used to print reports, send email to applicants, create experts, open sessions …

The structure of a form is kept as simple as possible in order to be able to modify it easily.
That application could be easily adapted to other needs.

A bit of technique:
HTML Forms use a common assembly containing routines we developed.
They have a common global structure.
At the start of each form we define the fields to be loaded and stocked. (xml datas are defined by their xpath path)
SQL selection requests and SQL updating requests are automatically built.
Client javascript controls are made when you validate a form.
The navigation between forms is done sequentially by a standard navigation bar.

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