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I do not know PHP and I need help!


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My name is Dave and I am working on a project and was informed that PHP was the answer. Before I try to explain every detail please take a look at what I have built so far. www.quality.allstarautosalvage.net


That is the foundation of what we are trying to do. I want to learn how to build this on my own. I need to make some modificatons to that as well.


1: The first sheet enters the base information with an invoice #

2: Every sheet after that would need the invoice number to access that page to complete the next level of inspection.

3: The final inspection would close it out and then save the information in Google Docs


I do not know if I am talking to the correct people but this is where my web host sent me. Can anyone here help me with this?




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Hi Dave,


It's a bit difficult to steer you in the right direction because your problem is a bit vague. On the surface, it just looks like you want to pass the invoice # from page to page, which you can do either through sessions or by sending/populating a hidden form field, but I can't help but feel that that's only part of what you really want to do with your site/app.


So, why don't you give us the larger view of what you want to do in its entirety, and how you see these forms fitting into it?

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When a user signs into the first page they will add all of the information in. For every user from that point on they would need to enter the invoice number to pull up the data so they could fill out their page. I have a space PC here that I want to use as a server (intranet based) that will store all of the data for each invoice. Each time someone new worked the part the invoice number is used to pull up the record so that all of the data stays in that one file. We work several parts at one time so the files have to be set up by invoice number to keep everthing straight.


These will make up one large record that we can access at any time if there is a problem with one of the parts so we can see who did not do their job properly. If needbe I can private message you contact information so that we can talk. I know this is still pretty vague and I am sorry, I have a hard time expaining stuff in type. Below is an order of operations.


1: user opens file with invoice # and verifying information as to id and who pulled the part, if it will be a shipment or delivered so on. This creates the file such as 12345

2: second user receives the part and invoice. They click on lens and only the field invoice would show, they enter invoice 12345 and this would cause the lens page to open for him to fill out. They enter all of the information into it. As long as the part is marked good in all fields they can save and move on to the next invoice. If their is a problem with the part then that would trigger one of two fields to work, the replacement or repair file.

3 based off of the questions answered, say bad tab replace lamp was chosen, when the invoice number was entered, the replace page would show up to be filled out. Once it is saved it would trigger the lens file to open back up when the invoice number was entered again to start the cycle over.

4 once the lens is done and saved the next person entering the invoice number would be placed on the housing file to do what they need to do. Again if there are any problems checked it would automaticly put the next user on the repair or replace file to be filled out before going to  post inspection.

5 Following the mapping above the post, final, and then shipping files would be filled out in sequence.

6 All of this would happen while other parts are being done at the same time. So we would have a constant flow of new files being created by invoice number on the server while other parts are being worked. Each file is stored on the server and can be accessed by file number from the form page or directly via excel on a CSV file format.


I hope that clears up what I am trying to accomplish. I am sorry if I just made things even more confusing.



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You really, really need to use a database for this.  That will allow you to easily create invoices by simply linking parts together, and then tying that collection to a user.  Flat files are really not suited to what you want to do.


Also, you should clarify what you mean by 'user'.  If there's a difference between customers and the people working with/for you, then you'll need to be able to model that.


Unfortunately, we don't do 1-on-1 mentoring here.  Everyone here, including staff, are volunteers, so while we're willing to help with specific coding questions, it would take too much time for us to mentor without getting some kind of compensation in return.  If you need that kind of help, feel free to post in our Freelancing section.


Since this is custom work, and you don't have much/any experience with this kind of thing, you probably should hire someone.  Web development is fairly easy to get started with but difficult to do well, and if you're relying on this system for your work you should have it done right the first time.  That's probably not what you want to hear, but for something non-trivial, with enough complicated details to be annoying, it's really the best route to go.

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Thank you for your help and honest answers. I will start looking at your suggestions. You have been more help than anyone else I have delt with.

If you do feel like doing this yourself, get yourself some good resources:










Basic security:







And stay far, far away from w3schools. This site will tell you why: http://www.w3fools.com/


So, like anything, you'll have to do cost analysis. Is it better to pay a professional to do the work, or is there more value in the time spent, and the resources purchased, to do it yourself? The resources above will make you about entry level competent. Maybe a little more than that with PHP itself.

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Hi Dave,

First question -- who is your hosting company? I'm always curious who it is that recommends phpfreaks to people like yourself.


Just to use an analogy, let's say that I wanted to get into the cell phone business. So I went to college and got a degree in electrical engineering and electronics and I immersed myself in cellular tech, and learned how to design phones and build prototypes, and the day came when I decided to get my business off the ground, and I realized that I needed a bulding.


"You need a building to house your manufacturing business" someone helpful informed me.


"But won't that be expensive?"


"Well you need a place to build your phones don't you?"


So, money is tight, and you think -- I'm smart, I can design phones, I could probably design, architect, and supervise the construction of a building and save a fortune, I mean how hard could it be?


You find this great place on the internet where architects and general contractors and construction company executives hang out in their spare time, shooting the shit, helping college students and greenhorn graduates with questions and talking shop. This is awesome -- I can just ask questions on this forum, and it will be like I'm getting consultation.


Several years later (you of course started building while you were learning) you have a ramshackle structure, that is half built, completely inadequate for what you need, and on any particular day, hazardous to the unfortunate people who have to work inside of it. Rather than helping your business, the building is hindering it on a daily basis, and rather than focusing on that business, you are now stuck in a quagmire, confused, upset and realizing you vastly underestimated a discipline that professionals invest years if not lifetimes getting to a level of competency that allows them to succeed.


Worse yet, the people on your forum aren't all that helpful, because you keep providing them lots of information about your problems, and they either provide you generalized answers, or specific answers that address minor problems, and you just can't seem to get the big picture you need on how to extricate yourself from this giant fiasco, and get things on the right track.



In summary, web development of any sophistication is all too often confused with a do-it-yourself project. In the most kindly way possible, consider yourself warned.


I don't know if you're the lead character in my story, or if you're an adjunct character, who had been for whatever reason (business or personal) set on a path that will most inevitably end in the same failure and disappointment that we've witnessed here nigh on probably 500 times before. We have nothing against hobbyists who come here to try their hand at learning web development, or volunteers, or family members trying to help out a sick relative with a simple website, but there is no worse reason for someone to come here than because they think that they can/must try and save money by building a system that they need for their business to run, when they have absolutely no training or background in how to do system development.


And to be clear, as nice as many of us are here, and patient and helpful, there simply isn't enough time or helpfullness or largesse available to change the fact that system development is complicated, and this is a help forum, not a free management, design and software development services forum, and at the end of the day you should have found a way to pay a professional to do the work rather than deluding yourself that you could do it yourself.

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