The number of resources on the Internet is growing at an exponential rate, while those that exist are continually changing. Library websites often contain links to hundreds, if not thousands, of these resources. It is becoming unwieldy to maintain a website with static HTML pages alone. Updating links to a single resource often involves editing multiple pages. One solution to this problem is to use dynamic web pages using a database-driven website.
A database-driven website requires three pieces of software:
The web application software allows the web server to communicate with the database. There are several web application server packages available, some are commercial others are open source. They include PHP, ASP (Microsoft Active Server Pages), SSI (Server Side Includes), and ColdFusion. This article will focus on ColdFusion.
ColdFusion is produced by Allaire Corporation, which has recently merged with Macromedia. It is compatible with many web servers (Apache, IIS) and operating systems (Windows, UNIX, Linux). It communicates with databases that use ODBC (Open Database Connectivity Specification), such as Access, Microsoft SQL server, MySQL, and Oracle.
ColdFusion has its own markup language, CFML, which is easy to learn, especially if you are familiar with HTML. You can recognize a ColdFusion-generated web page by the .cfm in the web browser's locator bar.
ColdFusion is expensive, costing several hundred dollars. Pricing information is available on the Allaire/Macromedia website. A good way to "test drive" ColdFusion is to download the
Some medical libraries that use ColdFusion are:
Some web developers have found creative ways to take advantage of ColdFusion's features. For some fun with ColdFusion, check out Crayola's website, http://www.crayola.com.
For more information on ColdFusion, try the following resources: