Designing Dynamic, Database-Driven Web Sites

Spend enough time designing for the Internet and you will quickly realize HTML's limitations. Websites produced with HTML are static. It requires a great deal of effort to expand and update a large site created with HTML. Dynamic, database-driven design gives you the ability to customize and modify content while generating thousands of pages on the fly. All this for little more effort than producing static websites.

4D focuses on methods for designing robust web sites that employ such tools as MySQL, PHP, XML, and ASP. The goal of this site is to provide users with an overview of the concepts and technologies associated with database design for the Web, as well as to give some basic instruction about developing database-driven sites. Areas covered include:

Technology Overviews and Product Reviews
What does it take to create a database driven website. These essays look at the various components and how they work together.

ASP:   Active Server Pages are a Microsoft technology for creating integrated web solutions. ASP produces web pages with server side scripting capabilities and database driven content. They have two main components, HTML code and Visual Basic scripting.

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Tutorials
Now that you know a little more about dynamic design, you may be ready to do a little. of your own. Our tutorial section focuses on the PHP and MySQL technologies used in the 4D site.

MySQL: Creating a Table and Inserting a Record:    Now that you've chosen to use a particular database and have created a table, you will want to fill the table with information. This tutorial introduces syntax for creating a table and inserting data into it. There are many more available commands available for handling data in more sophisticated ways. Get more information about available commands at www.mysql.com.

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Web Resources
What better place to learn about internet technologies than the internet itself. This central resource connects you with more information on the technologies and concepts introduced by 4D.

Here's a random link:  W3.org: XHTML Basic


Glossary
Want to learn more about databases than you ever thought possible? The glossary offers easy-to-understand definitions of technical terms in the categories of data management, delivery, and presentation technology.

ColdFusion:    Allaire Corporation's commercial database application development tool that allows databases to have a World-Wide Web interface, so a database can be queried and updated using a web browser. The ColdFusion Server application runs on the web server and has access to a database. ColdFusion files on the web server are HTML pages with additional ColdFusion commands to query or update the database, written in CFML. When the page is requested by the user, the web server passes the page to the Cold Fusion application, which executes the CFML commands, places the results of the CFML commands in the HTML file, and returns the page to the web server. The page returned to the web server is now an ordinary HTML file, and it is sent to the user. Examples of ColdFusion applications include order entry, event registration, catalogue search, directories, calendars, and interactive training. ColdFusion applications are robust because all database interactions are encapsulated in a single industrial-strength CGI script. The formatting and presentation can be modified and revised at any time (as opposed to having to edit and recompile source code). ColdFusion Server can connect with any database that supports ODBC or OLE DB or one that has a native database driver. Native database drivers are available for Oracle and Sybase databases. The current version is version 4, available for Windows, Solaris and HP-UX. A development environment for creating ColdFusion files, called ColdFusion Studio, is also available for Windows. The filename extension for ColdFusion files is .cfm.

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Design Documents
This section contains the various documents illustrating our design process. Users can download PDFs on site architecture, page diagrams, categorization schemes, and MySQL table designs.