Previous Section  < Day Day Up >  Next Section

21.1 The Dynamic Edge

So far in this book, you've learned to build and maintain Web sites using Dreamweaver MX 2004's powerful design, coding, and site management tools. The pages you've created are straightforward HTML, which you can immediately preview in a Web browser to see a finished design. These kinds of pages are often called static, since they don't change once you've finished creating them. For many Web sites, especially ones that contain a variety of information, static Web pages are the way to go.

But imagine landing a contract to build an online catalog of 10,000 products. After the initial excitement disappears (along with your plans for that trip to Hawaii), you realize that even using Dreamweaver's Template tool (Chapter 18), building 10,000 pages is a lot of work!

Fortunately, Dreamweaver MX 2004 offers a better and faster way to deal with this problem. Its dynamic Web site creation tools let you take advantage of a variety of powerful techniques that would be difficult or impossible to implement with plain HTML pages. With Dreamweaver MX 2004, you can build pages that:

  • Display listings of products or other items like your record collection, your company's staff directory, or your mother's library of prized recipes.

  • Search through a database of information and display the results.

  • Require login so you can hide particular areas from prying eyes.

  • Collect and store information from visitors to your site.

  • Personalize your visitors' experience: "Hello Dave, it's been a while since you've visited. Did you miss us?桯al."

Visit, for example, and you'll find more books than you could read in a lifetime. In fact, you'll find more products桪VDs, CDs, and even outdoor lawn furniture梩han could fit inside a Wal-Mart. In just an hour, you could browse through hundreds of products, each with its own Web page. Do you really think Amazon hired an army of Web developers to create each Web page for every product they sell? Not a chance.

Instead, when you search for a book on, your search triggers a computer program, running on an application server, which searches a large database of products. When the program finds products that match what you're searching for, it merges that information with the HTML elements that make up the page (banner, navigation buttons, copyright notice, and so on). You see a new Web page that's been created on the spot梡erhaps for the first time ever (Figure 21-1).

An infinite number of monkeys couldn't create all the Web pages for all the products Amazon sells. A dynamic Web site where pages are created by accessing information from a database is often the best choice for sites that present lots of similar information.

Dynamic Web sites are usually the realm of professional programmers, but Dreamweaver can simplify routine tasks like viewing information from a database, and adding, updating, and deleting data. Even if you don't have a programmer's bone in your body, this chapter and the next few give you the basics.

    Previous Section  < Day Day Up >  Next Section