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What is the best way to build an open source database?

I would like to build a database of all vehicles and their related maintenance information (i.e Oil Weight, Quantity, Tire Pressure, Windshield wipers etc). Currently this information is fragmented or just not put on-line in an easily accessible manner. As soon as collection begins, I would like to import this data into the DB and make it available freely to anyone.

Is there a process (site or group) that I can start gathering this information in a reliable and verifiable way?

In addition to this, are there any issues that I should be aware of?

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Are you looking for an open source DB implementation (like MySQL), or some sort of DB hosting service? –  Péter Török Feb 19 '11 at 15:41
    
I guess not so much the actual db... but more how to collect the data. The DB part will come after the data starts to be collected. –  webdad3 Feb 19 '11 at 15:49
    
What would "fragmented" exactly mean? How many sources are there? What formats does it have (databases, csv...)? How can you access the data? Do you want users to edit this data later when it is public? –  thorsten müller Feb 19 '11 at 16:42
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

A database stores information. Thus you would want a database engine (SQL Server, MySQL, etc..) chosen before you being collecting the information. You will also want a database designed specifically for your data collection needs. This can be done by someone familiar with Relational Database Design. They will ask you questions about the data you wish you to collect and how you wish to use that data, in turn translating your answers into the appropriate entities and relationships. Once that is done, programming the data collection forms (i.e. webpages) can begin and the database can then be populated by entering the data manually.

If you have data sets of the information you wish to place into your database, these may be able to be imported or coerced programatically into the previously designed database. You would need to seek the help of a knowledgeable programmer/database guru.

If you are just looking for a database of information on all models of vehicles, then I really can't help you out except to say that you could check out sites like NAPA or Champion who make parts for vehicles. I would guess they have access to vehicle manufacturer databases though. Which is another option. You contact the automakers directly seeking databases of their vehicles.

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