So far in this book, you’ve learned to build and maintain websites using Dreamweaver’s powerful design, coding, and site-management tools. The pages you’ve created use straightforward HTML, and you can immediately preview them in a web browser. The web cognoscenti often call these kinds of pages static, because they don’t change once you finish building them (unless you edit them, of course). For many websites, especially those where you carefully handcraft the design and content on a page-by-page basis, static web pages are the way to go.
But imagine landing a contract to build an online catalog of 10,000 products. After the initial excitement disappears (along with your plans for that trip to Hawaii), you realize that, even using Dreamweaver’s Template tool (Chapter 20), building 10,000 pages is a lot of work!
For jobs like that, most developers use a database to store information about the many products the company sells, along with a kind of page template that’s programmed to serve up just-in-time product-info pages. These dynamically created pages work their magic using a server-side programming language like PHP, ASP, ColdFusion, Java, or Ruby. When a visitor clicks a link to learn more about a product, he’s actually requesting this template file, which talks to the database, retrieves information for a product, and then returns a fully-formed web page–one that looks just like a page you’d create by hand.
All major e-commerce sites ...