Using FTP Server Access for Site Development with UltraDev
by Judy Fontanella
Creating Data Driven Web Pages - What Do You Need?
Managing large bodies of information has always been a challenge. Society as a whole, and Web developers in particular, have enthusiastically embraced the use of databases. Web designers are opting more and more to make use of technology that allows them to create dynamically changing pages. Special code on the page interacts with software on the server to retrieve information from a database and send it along to the user. The user always receives the latest, most up-to-date version of the information. Updating the information is as simple as updating the records in a database. No longer is it necessary to redo a Web page every time a piece of information changes.
Until UltraDev, it was necessary to learn a coding language, like ASP, PHP, Cold Fusion or JSP, before you could create these data driven pages. UltraDev has made it possible for Web designers without coding knowledge to create dynamic pages. Web designers who know how to code can work much faster.
When you use UltraDev, placing dynamic data on a page can be accomplished by filling in dialog boxes and selecting what data you need from lists of the tables and fields that are in your database. While you are creating your pages, UltraDev connects to your database and retrieves these lists for you so that you don't have to remember the field and table names yourself. You can just select the ones you want. In order for UltraDev to retrieve this information, you will need a connection to the server where your database (Access or MySQL or other ODBC database) and middleware (ASP, PHP, JSP or Cold Fusion) are running.
Most of the books and tutorials that are written about UltraDev assume that you are running such a server either on your development computer or on your local network. However, there are many Web designers who don't have that kind of development environment available. Those who are designing on Macintosh computers have had very few options available to them. Many Windows users are unable or unwilling to install the server software needed, as well.
Beginning with UltraDev version 4, it is possible to develop your pages by connecting to a remote server via FTP and HTTP. I have written this tutorial to explain this alternate setup procedure since that has been left out of so many books and tutorials. By following these instructions and obtaining an account on a server that runs the necessary software, anyone with UltraDev 4 and an Internet connection can develop dynamic Web sites.
This tutorial is written with directions for using ASP middleware. Hosts offering ASP are probably the easiest and cheapest to find. With just a few changes, you can use this tutorial with JSP or Cold Fusion. There are freely available UltraDev extensions that will allow you to use UltraDev with PHP, too. They are available from the Interakt site at: http://www.interakt.ro/
The Plan of Attack
There are several steps involved in putting dynamic data on your Web pages. These can be somewhat confusing for a newcomer, so I have created an outline of the overall procedure to help you put it all together. Detailed instructions for these steps will be given later in the tutorial.
- Things to do once for each site:
- Setup the site folder on your hard drive and place the files
that you will need in that folder.
- Define your site in UltraDev's site window. This includes defining
- Local Info
- Remote Info, and
- Application Server
- Things to do once per database that will be used on the site. (You
may use more than one database on a site. If so, you'll need to follow this
procedure for each database.)
- Create the database and upload it to the proper folder on the server
- Create a database connection
- Open any page in the site and create the database connection.
- Test the connection.
- Things to do at least once per page that uses database content. Some
pages will use more than one recordset. If so, you will do this for each recordset.
- Create a recordset. This is a query that will retrieve just the
data that you'll need for that page from the database.
- Place the field placeholders on the page.
The next two pages will give directions for Parts A and B above. The directions
for Part C - Creating a Recordset - will be added as a new tutorial to the Wise-Women.org
site in April of 2002.
On to Part A - Setting
Up Your Site