Dynamic Websites Make Your Life Easy

    November 12, 2003

Looking to have your website content generated dynamically? Why would you want a dynamic website? Well for one it sounds cool, but beyond that you can achieve great benefits by utilizing a database to generate your online content.

The static site. In the old days you had to make a website using different html page for every page in your site. For example, say you had a simple page to show press releases or news on your site. One page would contain a link for each press release, the other would show the actual press release. So lets say we have 20 press releases, we would in fact have to make 21 pages. There is also the problem of maintaining all these pages. Granted 21 pages isn’t much but your site will slowly grow well beyond that. Eventually you will have to update one of those press releases, or delete in entirely. This can get to be a hassle real quick. Where did I put that web page again? Well it’s not in the junk drawer, I checked. Fear not though, there is a better way.

The Dynamic site. Oh what’s the big deal you say I’m an html guru, 21 pages, ha! I eat hrefs for breakfast. Well if we used a database we could do it in 2 pages. What a minute, my boss doesn’t like it when I loose stuff and I just lost 9 pages! Don’t go job hunting just yet, one page is going to show the list of links to each press release, the other will show the details. How can we do that you ask? Database power!

The data is stored in a database that looks much like an Excel spreadsheet. Microsoft Office usually comes with a program called Access, this can be uploaded directly to your site. So for instance, you would have an id number and the content in different cells. When we need to see an article we just tell the database which id we want and it spits out the content with that id number. Take a look at the figure below.

Database Structure

Article ID &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Content

1 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp | CNN partners with Disney…
2 &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp | Disney stock soars on news of merger …

So in fact all you need is two pages, one page will show you all the press releases. The next page will show you the content of that press release. The link would look something like this


The above link would show us the first article. Id=2 would show us the second and, well I think you got it.

More benefits of the dynamic site. Here is where the real power of a dynamic site comes into play. Lets say you needed to add a press release. Simple, all you have to do is add a record in the database. Once that record has been inserted it will show up on your press release page and on the detail page. That’s it your done. The same goes for deleting a record, once its gone it will no longer show up on your site. No individual pages to update. Combine this with an online administration system and you can update your site anywhere you have an internet connection. Time to go on vacation! Also you could redesign your entire site without touching your content.

This is a general overview of how a dynamic site can benefit you. Depending on where your site is hosted will determine what programming language and database you would use. Among the more popular combinations would be, on a Linux server PHP language used with an MySQL database. Generally for a windows server you could use ASP with an Access or MS-SQL database. If your just starting out you can even get the entire script for free if you do a little digging. A dynamic site takes a little more planning, but it’s a breeze to maintain and is well worth the effort.

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