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SQL etc

Posted Sep 15, 2000

Simple SQL: Pt. 3 - Page 2

By Ted Brockwood

Building an InterDev Database

Odds are that if you're reading this publication, you're a Web developer/designer and you're probably scratching your head wondering, "well, SQL is great for other programmers, but how does it fit into Web development?" The answer is obvious - it makes your life easier when your customers want you to integrate their databases with their Web sites. Instead of having to learn every aspect of every database management system out there, you learn SQL and hope that any customer's database is SQL-compliant, allowing you to quickly hook their pages into the database for dynamic content. What would you prefer as a developer/designer, learning every database management language (or having to contract out to someone who does) or learning one language to do most of the work?

There are plenty of Web development tools and languages that support SQL, which makes your Web app development all the easier. These tools include Visual InterDev 6.0, PHP, Cold Fusion, and Drumbeat 2000. Whatever server platform you use, there is more than likely a toolkit for it.

As an example of SQL-to-Web integration, I'll give you a walk-through of a recent demonstration project I worked on. This Web application uses Visual InterDev 6.0 to connect a Web site to a small (about 10 megabyte) Microsoft Access97 file.

The object in this example was to create a simple query that would display records with a listed price of under $80,000. The database file was in Microsoft Access97 format, and contained 13,000 records. The database records range in price from $10,000 to $4,000,000, and the price field is identified as LPRICEA.

The first step with any database in InterDev is to ensure it is registered as an ODBC data source in Windows (95/98/NT). This is a fairly simple procedure which I will cover somewhat quickly. First, open the Control Panel from Windows and select ODBC (or 32-bit ODBC if you have the option). Then, while on the User DSN tab, hit the Add button. The next steps are to choose the type of database driver (mine is a Microsoft Access97 driver) you need, give it a name and description, and choose the actual database file. When you close out of the configuration, you should see the name of the connection in the list connections in User DSN. Should you neglect to register the database, don't fret, you'll get another opportunity when you're building the data connection in InterDev.

Now the actual work with InterDev begins. After opening the application, you can use the wizard to quickly build a base Web site. Once the Web site is built, you need to hook into your database. From the project view window, select your current site (referred to as "the project" in InterDev). Right-click on the project title and choose Add Data Connection. The ODBC data connection manager will appear, allowing you to choose any DSNs you've already built, or, if you need to create a new one, you can do it here just as you would in Control Panel.

The next step is to create an ".asp" page. An asp page is a specially scripted document that contains both HTML and database code, generally in the form of SQL statements. To create an asp page, select your project again in the project viewer, then right click and insert a new asp file (Active Server Page). The page editor will now display in the center of the screen. This is where you'll add your dataset controls to display dynamic database content on the page. When the page appears, it looks more like a code window than a standard HTML WYSIWYG window due to the application development style of InterDev, which takes precedence over the HTML layout style of page design tools.



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