Newfangled works with independent agencies to create lead development web platforms for their clients.

Newfangled works with independent agencies to create lead development web platforms for their clients.

Overlooked Advantages of Database Driven Websites


How database driven sites work

A database driven approach to web development simply refers to the use of a database for storing a website's content. It involves the separation of a site's content (words and pictures) from its design (the look, feel, and navigation). The design is most typically stored in template files. When a site visitor requests a page by clicking a link, a template draws the appropriate information from the database before it displays the result as an HTML.

By contrast, a static website is comprised of a series of HTML files. These files are self-contained documents that appear the same to all users, regardless of where, how, when, or why they are viewing the document. A single static file holds all of the data for a particular page (text, images, navigational structure, etc) and the design and content are intertwined. When a site visitor requests a page, the HTML file is passed from the server to the visitor's browser. On a static site, visitors are simply viewing documents over the internet, in much the same way they might open files on their own hard drives.

To illustrate the difference between a static and a database driven site, consider a site that contains 25 product pages. Using a static web development model, a programmer would need to create 25 separate HTML pages with the same basic navigational structure, each containing an individual product's specs and information. To add a new product to the site, the programmer would need to create a new copy of the product page file and insert the new product's information into the appropriate places within the file. To make a change to the structure of all 25 product pages, the programmer would need to adjust each of the 25 HTML pages by hand.

Using a database driven approach, the programmer would build a product table in the website's database. This table would contain a series of columns with pertinent information about the product line. For instance, the table might have the following columns: "product identification number," "product name," "product size," "price," "availability," "description," and "image." The programmer would then create a template file to use the information from the product table. This template file would contain the basic structure of a product page, identifying elements like the navigation system, where a product image is placed, where the description and other information goes on the page, and how all the data is to be formatted. When a user visits a particular product page, the template grabs the data associated with that product's identification number from the database, plugs the data into the template and presents the user with a complete product page "on the fly."






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