1. Technology

Data Driven Web Pages

Take Your Web Pages to the Next Level with Database Connectivity


So, you've learned HTML, and you're good with the graphics. You have a lot of content, and people are coming to your site. You have it all, right?

Well, not exactly.


Databases are the way that you can take your Web site to the next level. And the exciting thing is, you don't have to spend a huge amount of money to get yourself an enterprise level database and Web application software. In fact, you already have the software you need to create a simple database right now.

Text File "Delimited" Databases

I am sure that the purists out there would say that these are not databases. And it is true that they are not "relational" databases, but anyone can create and read a text-file database. It can be quite simple to write a CGI to add data to a flat file, and if the data is delimited (usually with a tab), you can access it later with other Web pages.

There are several programs available for creating and maintaining flat-file databases on the Web:

Driving Your Site

Creating and managing the databases is not the same thing as driving a site from a database. When you have a data-driven site, you are collecting data on the fly and then building the pages from that data. The easiest way to create a data-driven site is to use existing software available.

  • ASP
    The advantage to ASP is that it is getting fairly widespread. It has built in features to connect to databases, and many Web hosting servers grant ASP access.
  • ColdFusion
    ColdFusion has its own markup language (CFML) and tags that it uses to connect to the database. It is easy to learn and I had my first data-driven page up 5 minutes after I loaded ColdFusion.
  • HTDB
    HTDB (HyperText Database) treats the Web pages themselves as parts of the database. It gives you a lot of flexibility in creating standard page elements, as well as changing page information dynamically.

Most software packages expect you to know SQL, but they also come with extensive help so that you can have your database driven pages up within 10 minutes of setting it all up. Building and populating the database will often take more time.

Database driven Web sites give you flexibility, dynamic pages, and easier access to information. Static HTML will be a thing of the past.

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