Very briefly, from what you describe, it looks like you are dealing with large numbers of complex objects (your 'tools') that interact with each other - and with some other elements that are going through this workflow process? And a context for the process? ...not sure of that part...

In any case, this looks (to me anyhow) like a very object-oriented system you are modeling so an object oriented approach and language would seem most suitable. Python is one reasonable language option; zope for the web publishing aspect of the project would fit well with that. I haven't worked with other OO languages enough to usefully compare.

It also sounds to me like the web publishing is the lesser part of this...? That is, the workflow of interacting tools is the real 'app' here, a process which does not all get shown somehow on a web page...or does it? Or just the outcomes?

LAMP platform is so common and cheap that it's all a lot of people know about. It can be used well, and, it is all too easy to make horrible hacks and Frankestein monster apps in PHP/MySQL.

Meaning, a highly structured (yet powerful) OO programming language will support you in avoiding that.

Also, for development (or just to explore if python+zope might meet your needs) you don't need any hosting, you can install python+zope on your development system and try it out.

best wishes...
John S.

On 12/03/2011 07:12 PM, Sareesh Sudhakaran wrote:
I have a personal project - a web application I wanted to develop - but
I'm confused on which route to take. I am not under any time constraint.

*About the App:*

The best I can describe it is as a kind of expert system (but not AI)
that needs to find the best workflow for a process, given a set of
initial and final parameters. E.g. a 'capsule' of data must pass through
many 'tools' or 'environments' to reach a desired output - something
like a very complicated car wash.

Let's say there are many tools that can be used at various stages in the
process. I have estimated there are at least 500 tools as of now, and it
is bound to grow in the future as newer tools are introduced. Existing
tools will also have version updates.

Each tool, on average, has at least 100 properties that define the tool.
Some of them have as high as 1000 unique properties. Some of these tools
are linked to each other - e.g if one tool is selected, there are only n
tools that can correspond to it for the next step in the process. I also
have the problem of 'matching' the tools for analysis. E.g. Tool A might
have only three fixed rpms - 100, 200 and 500, but Tool B might have
rpms from 20 to 2000. I'm not sure how I can construct a database
without spelling out each number, as in the example above.

The total number of tools needed for the process can be defined at the
beginning, however, it will change as the application becomes more
complex in the future. I plan to address every contingency in the
process. The idea is - if the user inputs the initial parameters and the
desired outcome (another set of parameters), the app must find the
'best' path - sort of like a decision tree. The best path can be the
fastest, cheapest, etc. I would like the user to choose what is best for

Unfortunately, parameters might change, relationships might change (but
not regularly) - the 'rules' I will be using might be revised for better
accuracy in prediction.

I also need to track each user's path and solutions' for future
reference (but no personal details except username and email address for
logging in). Maybe when the app is up and running, I'd like to make it
more democratic, with users contributing to refining the logic/rules

If possible, I would also like the app to output a graphical flowchart
at the end showing the workflow with all tools grouped in an easy to
understand layout.

*My questions:*

 1. Will the app be better served with a relational DB like mySQL or an
    Object database? After a lot of research I've guessed that my
    particular case might be better served with Python and Zope/ZODB.
    But I might be wrong? Maybe PHP+mySQL or Django is a better fit?
 2. Can anyone provide general advice on how to go about beginning such
    a project in ZOPE. Which is the best place to start learning for a
 3. Can anyone recommend a good shared hosting provider that supports
    Zope fully but is not expensive?
 4. Is there a module or app that is open source that I can use to
    output a graphical flowchart based on the results, or will I be
    better served programming it from scratch with Python?

I would appreciate any help in getting started. Thank you in advance. I
have tried most online forums but have not good any productive answers.
Most of the answers I got were pro-PHP+mySQL.


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