So what do I need?

There's a few things you'll need before you can create data driven pages. Unlike Dreamweaver, where you can just dive in and everything you need is there in the application, UltraDev requires some bits and bobs setting up in your environment.

Number 1: A Web Server

I can already hear the screams of panic going up! Calm down! It's not as bad as all that!
You can run some free web server software on your computer - just for development purposes - without having to spend a dime on any more equipment and without having to learn too much about it. First, let's look at why we need a web server.

UltraDev creates sites using three main technologies - ASP, JSP and ColdFusion. These are all systems which require processing of the pages to be done by the server. It's really what makes UltraDev different from standard Dreamweaver. So in order to see your pages working, you need a server to do the processing for you. Otherwise it's like working with a blindfold on.

As a beginner, you may well find it best to start working with ASP, as it's the most common choice and there's lots of people around who'll be able to help you out if you get stuck. I'm going to be basing my work on ASP in these examples.

For ASP, the web server you need comes free with Windows - although it's not installed by default. If you minimize your browser and hit F1 for Windows Help, you should be able to search for "PWS" (Personal Web Server) and find instructions for installing. Otherwise, just hunt around on the CD - it's hiding somewhere. If in doubt, you can download the latest Option Pack from Microsoft's site, which will inclide the latest version.

If you have NT (with latest Service Packs) or Windows 2000 then you'll have IIS (Internet Information Server) instead - even better.
I believe there are options available to you if you own a Mac too - just don't ask me what they are! If anyone would be kind enough to let me know, I can provide the information here.

In addition to the Microsoft servers, Chili!Soft make ASP servers for many different platforms, including Linux.

I use Windows 2000, so I've got IIS version 5 installed right off my Windows CD. I haven't needed to change any settings - I just installed it and it worked. Splendid!

Of course, if you already have a web server running on your network then you're laughing (well, giggling at least). If you want to run using JSP or ColdFusion, then you'll need to set up the appropriate servers for those - I can't really help there.

So, once we have our web server up and running we have a method of viewing our dynamic pages. Now we need to pay attention to the source of our data.

Number 2: A Database

OK, so this may seem obvious, but you will need a database with information to put into your pages.

A database can be a very simple CSV file, or a complex SQL database - but I, like a lot of you, will be using Microsoft Access to generate a small database.

Whatever system you use, you'll need to know a little bit about it, and you'll need to know a bit about database design. There are lots of good books out there to help you with this and here I will assume that you have some knowledge of the database system you are using. (Otherwise we'd get stuck on databases and never on to UltraDev!)

Number 3: A System Connection To Your Database

This is where database gurus sit there giggling at us because we didn't realize that you had to do this (I'm talking from experience here!).

In order for the web server on your machine to be able to talk with the database, you need to set up some sort of 'connection' on your system. This is just a definition of where the database is and a few simple rules on how it should be treated.

There are at least a couple of different ways of making this connection, but I have found the easiest to be defining a system DSN (Data Source Name). But whatever you do, make sure that you have a latest version of MDAC from Microsoft's site. You'll need this to get UltraDev working correctly with your system.