Without a doubt, the most dominant web design tool today is Macromedia's Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver enables visual designers to effortlessly create web sites, and tools such as templates, CSS, and split-screen development have driven Dreamweaver to the number-one spot. If you are a designer, however, you know that at some point you'll need to extend Dreamweaver from a simple HTML development tool to one that allows you to build database-driven solutions.
Once you begin to think deeply about database driven web sites, a whole new level of complexity is introduced. For example, it's not safe for a web browser to directly connect to a database. For this kind of thing, you'll want to use an Application Server on your web server. There are many types of application servers you can use, such as Java, ColdFusion, and PHP. The focus here will be on Microsoft's ASP.NET.
Dreamweaver's support for ASP.NET solutions has helped me on many occasions—from allowing me to build rapid prototypes to providing me with the necessary tools for crafting solutions that integrate with Macromedia Flash. Dreamweaver's strong support of ASP.NET has enabled me to build the type of solutions I want—to the scale my customers need.
Dreamweaver is the only visual tool on the market that allows you to easily build solutions for the following server environments:
- ASP (VB Script)
- ASP.NET (C#)
- ASP.NET (VB.NET)
In this article you are going to learn how to set up and build a simple solution using ASP.NET.
What you'll find as you begin to develop more complex server solutions is that there is also more you'll need to set up in order to make the web site work properly. In many ways, you can think of server-based solutions as being like stargazing. When the stars align in your favor it can look like heaven. But on a cloudy night, when everything is obscured, the whole thing feels hopeless.
You'll be using Microsoft's infamous Northwinds Access Database to build your application. If you don't have it, a copy is included with the attached files.
You can develop on either Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003, or Windows XP Professional Edition. For each of these environments you will need to ensure that Microsoft's web server, Internet Information Server (IIS), is installed. In addition you will need to have the following:
- Internet Information Server Supported Server
- .NET Framework
- Folder on the server that holds your files
ASP.NET is supported by Microsoft's Internet Information Server version 5 or later. You will also need to be running the .NET Framework. For the example detailed here, you'll need to use either the 1.0 or 1.1 Framework. If you like, you can use the new 2.0 Framework slated to be released in November 2005. The 2.0 framework is backwards-compatible with 1.0 and 1.1 solutions.
The folder you'll need to create will be hosted within the WWWROOT folder for IIS. Typically, this is on your C drive. You can find it at: C:\INETPUB\WWWROOT\. Once you've found it, create a new folder called Northwind.
In IIS, find your Northwind folder in the expanded Web Sites option, as shown in Figure 1.
Select the Northwind folder. Right-click and then choose the Properties tab. Select the Directory tab along the top. In the Application Settings section, choose Create an Application Name by selecting the Create button. A name will be automatically filled in as shown in Figure 2.
You now have the IIS Server set up.
For this example, you'll be using an Access Database. You can now create a sub-directory to Northwind folder. Name it Database and then add the Nothwind.mdb database.