This article, the first of two parts, looks at the different database applications available for use with ColdFusion. It is excerpted from chapter two of the book ColdFusion Web Development with Dreamweaver MX 2004, written by Jen and Peter de Haan et al. (Apress, 2004; ISBN: 1590592379).
DATABASES ALLOW US TO serve dynamic content to our web sites. They are integral to building applications such as image galleries, content management systems, news systems, and so on. Usually, larger web sites use databases to help them organize and manage large amounts of data, because data stored in databases can be easily retrieved and manipulated. Although we discuss the basics of databases in this chapter, you may want to explore the topic further: an excellent book dedicated to the topic is Practical Web Database Design by Chris Auld et al. (Apress, 2003).
Whether or not you have ever actually seen a database, you have almost certainly used one. Every time you make a deposit or a withdrawal from the bank, your account balance is updated in a central database. However, not all databases are the same, as you will see shortly.
Most dynamic web sites, whether large corporate intranets or small personal sites with a simple “blog” system or gallery, involve the use of a database. Databases are arguably the most common way to add dynamic content to a web site. Other common methods of creating dynamic content include XML (see Chapter 11), ActiveX controls, Java applets, and DHTML.
Before jumping into databases and building full-blown dynamic sites, it is important to understand how to communicate with the data in the database. Databases have their own language called Structured Query Language (SQL), which is used to select, insert, update, and delete data stored within databases. The SQL language syntax used within each database application (be it Microsoft Access, MySQL, or Oracle) is pretty much the same, but there will be some differences in keywords, functions, and data types. We use Access for our sample databases throughout this book, but don’t worry, because most of the SQL and Dreamweaver MX 2004 functionality will be the same no matter what database product you use.
In this chapter, we first look at the different database applications available for use with ColdFusion. We then explain how to use Microsoft Access with ColdFusion MX 6.1 and Dreamweaver MX 2004, and finish up with an introduction to using SQL queries and Dreamweaver’s features that facilitate this. Let’s get started!