Lauren Foutz, Distributed Mentor Project 2001 Name: Lauren Foutz

School: Rensellear Polytechnic Institute

Major: Computer Science

Year: Senior


Webpage: filled with worthless comic book trivia and some stuff I really should take down.

Goals: World Domination or tenure, whichever comes first.

My mentor for the summer is:

Name: Sandy Mamrak

School: Ohio State University

Department: Computer Science

Area of Research: Database



Research Project

My project for the summer is to compare two input form generators, the Automatic Form Generator(AFG) created at OSU, and Architemp, created by Dulcian Inc. Input forms for databases are just GUI interfaces for adding data to the database. The AFG is a Java based program that takes an XML spec created by the developer and creates a form program from the spec. Architemp provides the user with a generic template which she can edit using Oracle Forms Developer to create the form she wants. My duty is to compare the two and figure out which one is more efficient at creating useful input forms.

Weekly Journal

Week 1

This week I worked on several practice assignments meant to help me become familar with the database and to give me a refresher on Java, SQL, Unix, and PL/SQL. A list of these assignments is located at

Things I learned this week:

Week 2

Finished up on the practice assignments and began reading up on Oracle forms in preparation to download and install Oracle Forms Developer and Dublin Achitemp.

Things I learned this week:

Week 3

Began to download Oracle Developer, but when it was discovered that I could ruin the database if I entered bad data for the set up variable it was decided to call in a more experienced person to do it. So I was given the task to update some download scripts to the database.

Things I learned this week:

Week 4

Began to download the tared file of Oracle Developer onto the server sagacity because it has plenty of empty memory. Turns out the Oracle Developer install file is very big, bigger than the memory available on sagacity, so next week it will be downloaded onto the computer science system and installed later on sagasity. Till then I am to download lots of information from the Mayo Clinic into the database.

Things I learned this week:

Week 5

After downloading the install file for Oracle Developer onto the computer science system we began to install it on sagacity. To ensure that there would be enough memory we deleted an old obsolete version of Oracle. Turns out there still was not enough room to install Oracle Developer Forms, so an order was placed for an eight gigabyte hard drive for sagacity.

Turns out that old obsolete version of Oracle was actually important. Despite everyone's best efforts I still managed to destroy the database. Till then I was asked to create three html input forms and cgi scripts to prevent the error that happened with the Mayo Clinic data from happening again.

Things I learned this week:

Week 6

Still waiting on the new disk for sagacity. Till then it is my job to write cgi scripts to go with the input forms. Unfortunately the system does not have the library of common cgi built in functions. So I go to download it and it turns out our version of Perl is too old to support it. So I go to download a newer version of Perl but it turns out that our C compiler is not working so Perl cannot be compiled. So I go to download C, realize that is just too much work, and learn to write a cgi script without CGI.

Things I learned this week:

Week 7

This week I was asked to download and compare some XML editors. This was good practise for when I compared the AFG and Architemp. I searched through several sharware and demo engines and compared everything from Merlot to XML Spy. I came to the two conclusions that Merlot was the best all around xml editor and that there is a lot of useless software out there on the web.

Things I learned this week:

Week 8

This week I had to write a query for all the information that was put into the database using my input forms. This would not have been such a bad job except that the query was insanely complicated. I kept having to rewrite the query because the one I just created was so complicated that it took ten minutes to execute. I finally discovered a few new SQL commands and was able to write a working and efficient query.

Things I learned this week:

Week 9

Yay, the sagacity disks finally came and Oracle Forms Developer was installed. I finally got to begin the project I was supposed to do at the beginning of the ten weeks. My job is to create an input form for the Molecular Pathology table and compare the creation process with when I created an input form for the same table using the AFG. Does not sound that hard but Oracle Forms is very complicated, and all the bugs in the Architemp demo did not speed up the process.

Things I learned this week:

Week 10

This week I write up a report on my comparison of the AFG and Architemp (AFG won), fix a small error with the input forms, and do other things in preparation for my leaving. All in all, this has been a great job.

Things I learned this week:

Final Report

Due to the memory problems I did not do one major project this summer, but rather lots of small projects that took about a week each. These projects did all have a common theme, they all involved inputing data into the database. I had the oppertunity to work on the data input process from creating a GUI for the user to input data with, to formating the raw data, to finally placing it into the database.

My list of projects is as follows. I created three html forms for entering data and wrote the cgi scripts to handle the information. The cgi scripts only place the information into text files, so I updated several existing programs so they could download the raw data into the database. So the users could view the information they had inputed I wrote a query that pulled up their information.

The database is an ongoing project that is constantly being improved, rewritten, and expanded. While I was comparing the AFG with Architemp others where working on creating a GUI for creating the XML specs nessasary for the AFG to create a new input form. This GUI will make the AFG even more user friendly and will allow it to surpass Architemp in the one area where it previously lagged behind. New tables and fields where also being discussed for the database, so the input forms, perl scripts, and queries that I wrote will have to be updated to reflect these changes. Hopefully I commented these programs well enough so that the next person to update them will find them easy to understand.