We actually developed this seminar while recording
the development of our very own 599CD Skills Test
System - that you can log on to right now and take a test.
While you might not be developing this kind of a
database for your web site, we will teach you all of the fundamentals
involved with setting up your web-based database. The steps covered in
this seminar include:
- Creating your Access database tables
- Uploading your database to your Web
- Creating a System Data Source Name (DSN)
- Testing your database connection
- Displaying database records in
your web pages using ASP
- Looping through sets of records
- Passing variables between pages using a
- Storing user-specific data in Session
- Gathering user input using HTML forms
- Using the ASP Include Page directive for
- Adding records to your database tables
- Editing records
- Deleting records
- Formatting your pages with HTML
tables for style
- Sending automatic Email from your
can see, this seminar covers quite a lot of information. I will
literally take you through the entire creation of a web-based
database from conception to completion. You won't miss any steps as I
start from scratch, build the Access database, upload it to the
Web server, set up the connection, and start building pages. >
Richard Rost, Instructor
introductory lesson (see below) will show you all of the topics
covered in this class, and discuss what you need to get started.
So no matter what kind of online database you're planning to
build, this seminar will give you all of the fundamentals and
information you need to get started.
You can then take this information to build
everything from a customer management system to an online
shopping cart... all of the fundamental concepts of working with
online databases are covered in this seminar.
All of the basics, from setting up your Access
database to adding, editing, and deleting records, to passing and
storing variables between your pages... are all covered.
We will begin by setting up our database using Microsoft
Access. Now, you do NOT need to
use Access for your database. You can use any database program that you
like, as long as it conforms to ODBC standards. If you want to use
SQL Server or even Oracle as your database server, that's fine too.
I personally prefer using Access for low- to mid-volume
databases, and it's the easiest to set up.
Our database will consist of just a few simple
tables... one to store the names of the tests we want to give the
students, another to store the questions, and a third to store all of
the answers (multiple choice). If you've taken any of
my Access courses, you'll find
this part a piece of cake. I list Access 101 - 201 as a pre-requisite
only because we cover table relationships in
Access 201. Really,
you'll be just fine even with Access 101 under your belt.
Next, I will discuss how to upload your database
to your web server. Now, for my personal setup, I use a
Windows 2000 Server, and I use pcAnywhere to connect to my
server and upload the database. However, your setup may be different,
and that's OK (see below for details).
After we learn how to display records from our
database on the screen, we'll learn how to loop through records in a
table. We'll display all of the records in our Test table to show a
list of all of the tests available. This might sound easy, but it's
actually quite an accomplishment for ASP code. Remember, there's no
graphical editor to do this with. This is real programming!
Next, we'll learn how to pass information between
web pages using the QueryString. This allows us to send data from
one page to another using the address bar URL.
Next, we'll go through and create pages to
display all of the questions and answers in our database. Click on a
test to see all of that test's questions. Click on a question to see all
of the possible answers.
Next, we'll learn how to store information in the
memory of the web server itself. These are called Session Variables
and they are handy for remembering temporary information... such as the
current user's name, or what test he's viewing. Data that doesn't
necessarily have to be stored can be remember during this user's Web
Next, we'll learn how to gather information
from the user in a Web Form. We will be able to add tests, add
questions, add answers, and get information like a username and
password to log on to the web site.
Now that we know how to get user input, we can
add records to our database. We'll design forms to add tests,
questions, and answers.
Once we know how to add records, we'll of course
have to be able to edit and delete those records. We'll
create pages to edit and delete test names, questions, and answers.
which is a browser-based programming language. This will allow us to ask
the user if he's sure he wants to delete the record.
As a side note, we'll of course talk about the
security of your web pages... making sure someone can't just hack
into one of your ASP pages and start editing your data. Go ahead and
try. Our online Skills Test System is as
secure as any page can be (well, unless you guess my password).
So far everything we've built is what the
teacher (admin) sees... to add, edit, and delete questions and
answers. Next, we need to create the student's interface. So
we'll make a logon screen for students...
Side note: yes, while I do take a little
bit of time to show you some formatting in class (tables, colors, etc.)
I don't want to waste a whole lot of time on that - so you'll notice
that my pages aren't exactly pretty at this point. However, if
you really want to learn how to build attractive web pages, I
recommend my Frontpage series of classes. Here, I'm just focusing
on making the HTML functional, and the ASP code work with the database.
We will next create the entire test taking
engine... allowing the user to pick a test, and then be quizzed on each
of the questions for that test.
The student will get progress shown with each
question, and can see what the correct answer is if he misses it.
If the user answers at least 80% of the questions
correctly he will be able to print out a Certificate of Completion.
Finally, it's always nice to know when a user does
something on your web site. We'll teach you how to send email
using your web server. This way I am notified any time one of my
students completes a test... you can also use this to contact the user
directly from the web server. Being able to send mail is a very handy
Now, if you're not sure as to whether or not you
can get your web site to work with ASP and an Access database, we have
provided the first couple lessons of this seminar for you to review
free of charge before you buy the complete package.
If you've taken my ASP 101 course and have been
able to use the lessons in that tutorial, then your server is fine as
far as ASP is concerned.
- If you have your web site
hosted for you by an Internet Service Provider (ISP), and they're
supposed to give you database access and ASP support, then setting up
the database is usually a service they will provide for you.
They will at least be able to give you instructions how to set it up
on their server.
The only time you should actually have to set the
database up yourself is if you run your own web SERVER at
your own facility. Then you might have to go in and actually configure
the DSN yourself. Again, I will show you how to do this step-by-step
with Windows 2000 Server (almost the same for Windows 2003 Server). But
if you don't have your own server, your ISP will generally
perform this service for you.
As long as you know how to get the database up to
your web server, and can figure out setting up a Data Source Name
(DSN), you will be able to use this seminar.
Nevertheless, I provide the introduction
and first three lessons of this seminar to all students
FREE OF CHARGE before you purchase
it, so that you can make sure you can get the database up and running on
your web site, and test it with ASP code before buying the
seminar. The first three lessons cover:
- Building your Access database tables
- Configuring the database on your server
- Displaying test data from your database
on a web page
If you can get these three steps working, you're
good to go with the rest of the seminar. Again, I'll cover more detail
in the seminar itself.
NOTE: If you don't have your own Windows server (perhaps you're
leasing space from a hosting company) you can still set up a web-based
Access database if you're using Microsoft FrontPage or Expression Web. I
cover that in detail in my
Web Data Synch Seminar. Here are two lessons from that
seminar that will show you how to do it:
Note that this database is NOT for you if you do not
have ASP (Active Server Pages) on your server. If you are working
with the programming language PHP, then this seminar is NOT
Want a quick test to see if your web site has
ASP installed? Here's what you do... open up your web browser and
create a blank new page. In the HTML design for the page, just
type in the following:
<% response.write Date
Now save your page and load it up in your Web
browser. If you see today's date displayed just like below, then ASP is installed and
I have not tested the seminar code with the
Linux operating system or the MySQL database, although if you
have 100% support for ASP code, then you should be able to get it
working - but I make no guarantees for support.
To use the lessons in this seminar, I recommend
you run a Microsoft Windows Server (2000 or 2003) which uses
genuine Active Server Pages technology.
So that just about covers it. This is a great
seminar. If you have been looking to take a database and put it online
so people can access your records, make changes and additions, and
collaborate with you, this is the perfect starter kit.
This seminar is long (just over six hours),
but it's broken up into 26 easily manageable lessons of 10 to 20 minutes
each. You can sit down, watch a lesson, review the material, test out
the code yourself... and do a little bit each day. It's long, but it's
comprehensive - you won't miss a single step as I've recorded
everything from start to finish.
You can use this information to create a
customer database, a product or inventory web site, an online
shopping cart, the list goes on. Once you know how to add, edit, and
delete records in a database, the sky's the limit!