MS FrontPage

Interacting with a Database

In the last tutorial, you learned how to display portions of a database on a Web page. But what if you want to let your site viewers tap directly into your data, so that they can manipulate what they're looking at, rather than just passively view it?

For example, say you've posted employee profiles for everyone in your office, but you don't have anyone's home address. Sure, you could walk around with a pen and paper jotting down names and addresses. But wouldn't it be a lot easier if everyone could just enter their own information right into the database? And wouldn't it be great if you could let people edit their addresses directly through their browser window, rather than having to teach them how to use the database software (not to mention installing the program on all their computers)?

FrontPage gives you this ability through its Database Interface Wizard. This wizard works kind of like the Database Results Wizard that you read about in the preceding tutorial, but instead of just displaying "read-only" data to your visitors, you can let them interact with it adding, editing, and deleting records on their own, via the Web.

This tutorial teaches you how to create what is essentially a Web-based application that lets visitors work directly with a database. After you learn how to create this tool, you'll see exactly how it works within a browser.

If you want to let visitors edit or delete records, read on. However, if all you want to do is collect the info that visitors enter in a form and store the results in a database (essentially creating new records), then a simpler solution would be to create a Web form and configure it to send results to a database. (See Gathering Data with Forms to learn how to create the form and then turn to Working with Databases to see how to send results to a database.)

Creating a Database Interface

How does this magic happen? As usual, FrontPage handles all the grunt work for you but perhaps not in the way you've come to expect. A lot of the advanced features you've read about so far rely on FrontPage Server Extensions or SharePoint Services to help them work correctly.

The Database Interface Wizard works differently. FrontPage takes the choices you make in the wizard and actually writes a custom ASP or ASP.NET program to perform the tasks that you've specified. So really, when you use this wizard, you and FrontPage are working together to create an independent program your visitors can use to manipulate data.

The interactive data application created by the Database Interface Wizard works only on a Web server loaded with ASP or ASP.NET (Working with Databases). This feature won't work on a server that has SharePoint Services.