This book is a conference call among you, management, the web, the database, the web server, and Dreamweaver MX. Each section focuses on one aspect of using Dreamweaver MX to create a database-supported website.
This book is unique in that the chapters don't necessarily build upon each other. You can certainly read the book chapter by chapter, but you won't have a finished website at the end of the last chapter. What you will have is the information you need to create one yourself-with Dreamweaver MX's help. In addition, you'll have a great reference tool as you're working.
Part I of this book demystifies the data-driven phenomenon. It isn't magic; it's all about knowledge, and Dreamweaver MX knows it all. We also introduce you to the Dreamweaver MX user interface and its many features. Then, we offer advice on applying consistent and professional coding practices. Finally, we review the workhorse of the whole model-the HTML form. If you're new to the web, we suggest that you not skip these chapters. You'll learn concepts that are vital to understanding the adventure on which you're about to embark.
Part II reviews four of the major relational databases on the market within the context of supporting a web-driven database: Microsoft SQL Server 2000, Microsoft Access 2002, Oracle9i, and MySQL. All four of these databases bring unique features to the web experience, and there are more (which we don't discuss). The good news is, Dreamweaver MX can support any relational database. If you have the luxury of choosing the system, you should probably read all four chapters so you can make a fully informed decision. In fact, we suggest you explore other systems as well. On the other hand, most of us are told which database to use. Perhaps it's one of the four we've reviewed, and if that's the case, we've provided a chapter's worth of information. Chapter 5 uses simple language and examples to tame an otherwise intimidating subject-relational database design. Database developers can probably skip this chapter.
In Part III, you'll learn about the scripting languages that claim the largest share of the market: ASP, ASP.NET, ADO.NET, JSP, and PHP. There are also chapters on ColdFusion, an application server, connection technologies, and web security. You won't become an expert on any scripting language, but you will secure a comfortable grasp on the ones we cover. This section should prove especially useful when you're working with existing systems that speak a language you don't know. Read the appropriate chapter, and once you have a general feel for the language, you should find it much easier to slip into the application and glean the information you need.
Anxious to actually start using Dreamweaver MX? That's what you'll do in Part IV. A full chapter is devoted to each data-manipulating task-retrieving, searching, and updating data. In addition, there's an introductory but fairly comprehensive chapter on SQL, the standard language of relational databases. If you've been meaning to learn SQL, but just haven't, now is a good time. In this section, you'll also learn:
To use templates to reduce your work load
About extensions that increase the functionality of your site
Every chapter contains good information, but not every reader will need each chapter. Each reader brings a unique level of expertise to the task at hand. That's one reason this book is so useful to such a wide audience-you don't have to read each chapter. Select the chapters that fill your information holes. For instance, web developers may benefit mostly from the chapters on database design and SQL, and the database developer will probably read the chapters on scripting languages first. There's something for everybody, and it's all written within the context of creating a data-driven website.