First of all let me expose what I would like to do : I already dispose of a long-time running webapp developed in ASP.NET (C#) 2.0. In this app, users can upload standard PDF files (text+pics). The app is running in production on a Windows Server 2003 and has a dedicated database server (SQL server 2008) also running Windows Server 2003. I myself am a quite experienced web developer, but never actually programmed anything non-web (or at least nothing serious).
I plan on adding a functionality to the webapp for which I would need a jpg snapshot of each page of the PDF. Creating these "thumbnails" isn't the big deal as such, I already do it inside my webapp using ghostscript. I've only done it on 1 page documents for now though, and the new functionality will need to process bigger documents. In order for this process to be transparent aswell for the admins as the final users, I would like to implement some kind of queue to delay the processing of the thumbnails. There again, no problem to create the queue, it will consist of records in a table, with enough info to find the pdf document back.
Then I will need to process this queue, and that's were my interrogations start. Obviously the best solution to process it isn't an ASP script or so, so I will have to get out of my known environment. No problem, but I have no idea which direction to go. Therefore, a few questions :
What should I develop ? I presumably need something that is "standby" on the server, runs when needed, then returns to idle state until further notice.Should I be looking into Windows service ? Is there another more appropriate type of project ?
Depending on the first answer, what will be the approach ? Should I have somehow SQL server "tell" the program/service/... to process the queue, or should I have that program/service/... periodically check the state of the queue and treat new items. In both case, which functionality can I use ?
we're not talking about hundreds of PDF a day (max 50 maybe), I can totally afford to treat the queue 1 item at a time. Can you confirm I don't have to look much further on threads and so ? (I found a lot of answers talking about threads in queue treatment, but it looks quite overkill for my needs)
Maybe linked to the previous question : what about concurrent call to the program, whatever it is ? Let's suppose it is currently running, and a new record comes in the queue, what should be the behaviour ?
I don't need much detailed answers and would already be happy with answers like "You can do the processing with a service, and yes it's possible to have sqlserver on machine A trigger a service start on machine B" or "You have to develop xxx and then use the scheduler to run it every xxx minutes". I don't mind reading articles and so, but I can hardly afford to spend too much time learning stuff to finally realize I went the wrong way for this project, so basically I'm trying to narrow down the scope of matters I need to investigate.
Thanks for reading me, I hope I'll find some helping hands on here :-)