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Part: 6 Dreamweaver and ColdFusion PROJE... > Dynamic, Data-Driven Sites

Lesson 14. Dynamic, Data-Driven Sites

The word dynamic means many different things in the world of Web development. You might have heard of a Web technology called Dynamic HTML (DHTML), which enables the developer to control the behavior of the browser and screen content when a page is browsed; a client-side technology, DHTML runs entirely in the browser, relying on JavaScript.

Macromedia Flash developers often strive to create a “dynamic” experience, in which users have control over their experience of a Flash movie; the map of the Inferno you just completed is an example. Like DHTML, Flash—at least as you have used it so far—is primarily a client-side technology; all the ActionScript you wrote, all the assets you created, and so on are passed to the Flash player in the user's browser, and the Flash player figures out what to show the user.

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

From this lesson through the end of the book, dynamic takes on yet another, and more robust, meaning. Thanks to the power and ease of Macromedia ColdFusion, 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 quiz application in Macromedia Flash MX 2004 that saves user's scores and identities to the database. ColdFusion is a server-side technology, which means that the code is executed on the server, and only the results are sent to the browser.

The hallmark feature of server-side dynamic sites (created with ColdFusion or an equivalent technology, such as ASP or PHP) 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 four 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. Developing pages that display specific database records is likewise a simple task. Using Dreamweaver and ColdFusion together, it is surprisingly easy to create environments where users have to log in to access content.

In the final four lessons of this book, you will create a Web application that combines several of these elements. The dante_admin.cfm page displays all of the students in the class, and provides one-click email access to them. You'll also create a Flash-based quiz that outputs the user's score to ColdFusion. ColdFusion then sends this data in two directions: It outputs the final score to the browser so the user can see it, and it inserts the score into the database so the instructor can see how the students are doing.


In this lesson, you will:

  • Survey the completed application you will create in the next four 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 45 minutes to complete.


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