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Lesson 12. Dynamic, Data-Driven Sites

Lesson 12. Dynamic, Data-Driven Sites

The word dynamic has begun to mean many different things in the world of Web development. Even in this book, it has been used in different contexts. In Lesson 3, I introduced Dynamic HTML (DHTML). There, dynamic referred to the user's ability to make basic changes to the layout and appearance of an HTML page, by showing or hiding layers, dragging layers, and other simple manipulations. In the Flash chapters, the word dynamic took on a more robust sense, in which text placeholders changed their values, objects and entire movies appeared and disappeared, and the user's manipulation of objects (such as Flash movie clips) became custom events that triggered other dynamic changes (such as objects snapping into place, text boxes changing, and scrolling text fields adjusting in length—all on the fly).

This test is built in Flash using components. Test data is collected in Flash and submitted to a database, using ActionScript and ColdFusion.

From here through the end of the book, dynamic takes on yet another, still more robust meaning. Thanks to the power and ease of Macromedia ColdFusion MX, you will create sites that act as interfaces to databases. You will pass data between pages, enable users to view data loaded dynamically from databases, and write to databases. Later, you will even create a test in Macromedia Flash MX that saves scores and user identities to the database.

Database-driven pages' hallmark feature is that page content is generated on the fly. That is, you and I might both request the exact same page (such as www.amazon.com), and yet the page we each see is entirely different. Mine greets me by name and places front and center an odd mix of computer books and mystery novels that represents my buying habits. What you see on the Amazon site is likely to be different. For starters, you probably won't see “Hello, Jeffrey Bardzell” at the top of your page.

You will not, in six lessons, learn how to produce anything as sophisticated as Amazon.com's Web site. The development of Web applications is a serious topic whose mastery takes years of study and practice. The good news is that you don't need to spend years studying and practicing to create a handful of useful applications. Such Web staples as Web forms that save user input to databases take a matter of minutes (depending on their length) to set up, using Dreamweaver and ColdFusion. Creating environments where users have to log in to access content is also surprisingly easy. Developing pages that display specific database records is likewise a simple task.

In the final six chapters of the book, you will create a Web application that combines all of these elements. A registration page enables users to create their own profiles. A login page enables users to log in to access restricted areas of the site. Once in the restricted area, users can take a multiple-page survey (whose data is saved to a database), take a test on Dante in a Macromedia Flash movie (whose data is also saved to a database), and view the results of their test on a transcript page.


In this lesson, you will:

  • Survey the completed application that you will create in the next six lessons

  • Learn about ColdFusion site concepts and architecture

  • Define and configure the ColdFusion site in Dreamweaver

  • Develop your first dynamic ColdFusion pages


This lesson takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete.


Starting Files:

All of the files in the Lesson12/elearning folder.

Completed Files:





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