The Database Project

Date of initial launch: September 21, 1999

March 23rd, 2002: Please note that this page is not updated regularly since it was only meant to document the development and launch of the database system, which initiated in late 1999. I might add more events to this page when I have a bit more time.

The Problem

As the site has grown in size from a mere dozen pages back in July 1995 to its current scope of over 2600 pages the problem of how to maintain and keep the site current with the latest research has grown.

Another problem is that the subject of is so vast that it easily contains millions and millions of small bits of information. Keeping track of it all is rather complex to say the least.

The Solution

The solution is to build a professional-level database of some sort, I am not talking about Excel documents here :)

The obvious answer is a SQL database such as Oracle, DB/2 or MySQL. All the data we are working on is being systematically put into the system. Right now we are experimenting with a mix between a Lotus Notes database and SQL tables.

I hope I can generate more than 6000 pages right from the database when it's up and running. When that happens will grow to about 7500 pages easily. The project will be made progressive, i.e. it will not open "all at once" but much rather with one major category following another, step by step. This way we can iron out potential bugs in "smaller" sections without risking ruining another non-related section.

  1. Rough order of installation (main focus right now on red items)
  2. Events on this day (very exciting and new item)
  3. Men lost from U-boats
  4. The U-boat Profiles (including non commissioned and planned boats)
  5. The books (over 820 books)
  6. Successes against aircraft
  7. The Commanders (over 1400 pages)
  8. Fates pages (extended and much re-written)
  9. Shipyards
  10. Types
  11. ... and so on
  12. Most of those should be ready in Sept-Oct 1999.

The Development

The system is being developed using MySQL and PHP as its tools. This is a very solid solution which has already proven itself. I have about 85% of the data I need already in the system and will have the rest of the items ready in August if all goes as planned. Then there are some programming issues to be solved, nothing major though.

The Promise

When the system is ready as I see it it will be an immense database of all things related to the U-boat War 1939-1945 and unlike any prior work (as far as I know).

The benefits will be numerous, including ease-of-maintenance and high-level of reliability across all pages (i.e. new information will be instantly available anywhere where needed). That way we can spend the time on research and writing interesting material instead of time-consuming data handling.

It will be possible to ask it (loosely speaking) questions like;

Another thing that automatically became available for something a section to handle "What happened on this day?". This is a rather exciting thing really since this has never been seen, at least not in the scope we plan for it.

This is a rebirth of an old idea of ours from 1996 or so loosely called "Kriegsmarine war-diary" that was cancelled since it was too complex to do without such a database :)

Current status of the project

Oct 7, 1999

Section Data entry Debugging Programming
U-boat ProfilesDONE95%DONE
Naval booksDONEDONE95%
U-boat fatesDONE95%
PatrolsDONEin dev.
Commanders - basicDONEin dev.
Commanders - full30%

The Launch Order

This is just a little compilation on when each section was launched from the database.

Oct 18, 1999
The new Books section is launched with 865 books.

Oct 14, 1999
Commander sinkings are now read from the database.

User Comments are now being generated at random from the database

Oct 6, 1999
Successes against aircraft are now being read from the database.

Oct 5, 1999
U-boat Losses 1939-1945 and U-boats in the Mediterranean are opened from the database

Oct 3, 1999
The entire 1153 U-boat profiles are now being read from the database.

Sept 27, 1999
U-boat Finder is launced.

Sept 23, 1999
The massive Events on this day section opens.

Sept 21, 1999
Men Lost from U-boats was the first to open. It was also the first one to be programmed this fall so this seemed fitting.