As the popularity of the internet has increased, so have the demands and expectations of its users. Many businesses now see the Internet as a key element in their strategic plans. The Internet has evolved from a world of static Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) pages into a world of web applications that are capable of delivering dynamic content from a number of datasources. With ColdFusion, you can create applications that do more than just display dynamic data.
We can create web applications that enable a customer of an online store to do everything from searching for items to placing an order. These activities involve numerous interactions with a database. When the customer searches for a book on ColdFusion, a query is run against a database. The results of this query are returned in the form of a dynamic web page. With a series of SELECT statements, the customer could obtain a list of books on the topic of ColdFusion and details about individual books, including price, reviews, and whether the book is currently in stock. With the combination of SELECT, INSERT, and UPDATE statements, the customer can create an account and place his or her order. The power of ColdFusion and web applications does not stop with the user interface (UI). The business can leverage the web application to create shipping documents, to update inventories, to create purchase orders for distributors to replenish stock, and to generate email confirmations related to customers orders.
In Chapter 4, "Fundamentals of ColdFusion Development," we discussed the basic concepts for using ColdFusion to interact with databases. In this chapter and the next, we discuss some of the more complex interactions between ColdFusion and the database. However, before discussing topics such as stored procedures and transactions, we would be remiss if we failed to review some basic database and structured query language (SQL) concepts.