A new "database" resource has been developed to serve the data sharing needs of hub communities. This resource was designed and implemented at cceHUB for the Cancer Care Engineering project, and is now operating across six hubs, offering sixteen community databases. The support infrastructure consists of a MySQL database together with Joomla! components that provide interfaces for data contribution and data exploration. For simple data models, database tables are created automatically by a spreadsheet parser. More complex data models require manual creation of data tables that describe elements and relationships.
Data is contributed to hub databases either via a spreadsheet parser operating on a standardized data format or through a sequence of web-forms representing the application data flow. Web-forms are managed by the â€œcom_formâ€ component which provides automatic form generation and processing. A simple data definition file is created for each form, using a toolkit of constructs for form design. Completed forms are submitted in XML format to back-end Java parsers for data validation, processing and insertion.
A few community databases were created in a single day, while other databases have been continuously revised and advanced for nearly two years. The current database creation process requires some manual interaction, but development efforts are underway to automate the entire process from beginning to end.