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As I gear up for my annual NCAA Tournament Pool (details to come closer to tourney time) I have been working on a completely new site design with new features and a more flawless method of keeping the site up to date.  In previous years, the pool program I use would run a scheduler periodically and build all of the web pages for my site and upload them via FTP.  Not an entirely bad solution, except the FTP wasn’t the most reliable and would just die in the middle.  I’m sure this was more of an issue with my free account than the pool software, but nevertheless I wanted something more.

Low and behold, in comes PHP and MySQL to the rescue.  Now, I can use a database on the web server that will still have to get updated by the scheduler in my pool program (connected via ODBC).  Instead of having to FTP all of the report files, I’ve written PHP functions to connect to my database and update things automatically.  So far everything has tested well and looks good.  I think there are still some reports that will have to get uploaded unless this year’s software adds more information to the database or I work more on parsing through the data currently there to generate all reports myself.

PHP was fairly easy to learn and work with once I figured out how scoping of variables work (quite differently than all other programming languages I’ve worked with in the past) and the speed seems to be reasonable as well.  It reminds me a bit of Java Servlets  in that you use the scripting language to generate HTML code.  I look forward to hopefully enjoying a much more automated pool running experience this year.