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Macromedia Drumbeat 2000
Can Drumbeat really deliver custom database applications in ASP?
In order to get any database driven application up and running in Drumbeat, you still need to know the basics of database design and how to set up System DSN's. I would strongly suggest learning to use Access or SQL Server and becoming familiar with table creation. While Drumbeat has wizards to perform queries, and generate HTML interfaces for databases, you will still need to use a separate product to create your Databases in. If you're just starting out, you can't go wrong with Access 97/2000.
Drumbeat certainly makes publishing databases to the Web extremely easy, even if you're a newcomer. There are a number of options available for publishing data to the Web. Databases can be not only be published using ASP to create dynamic applications but Drumbeat can also publish static Web pages, or use data binding to create dynamic client-side databases. The latter options will no doubt suit developers without access to a server running ASP.
Once a System DSN has been created, the SQL Query dialog box can be used to create a new query by typing an SQL statement, importing a stored query from a database or using the SQL wizard. It was even possible to use SQL parameters that could be dynamically changed on a page. The Dataform Wizard really made me feel depressed - If only I had been able to get my hands on a tool like this months ago! The Dataform Wizard automatically generates ASP code to search, update, insert and delete data from a database. It also allows you to choose the type of form element you would like to use to display each database field.
When all the pages are generated, they can be edited in the Layout Window and a range of database Interactions can be assigned from the Interactions Centre. This is where Drumbeat starts to have limitations in terms of developing custom ASP applications. What if you wanted to do something and it was not available as an Interaction? You may just have to learn to code ASP after all. Drumbeat is extensible however, and does allow for custom Interactions to be created. These are known as Contracts. I am eager to develop Contracts for common ASP tasks. I suspect other developers will be doing the same and soon there will be lots more Interactions available for download. At the moment, Interactions can be downloaded from the Drumbeat 2000 Element Exchange Web site: www.macromedia.com/software/drumbeat/download/exchange/ Drumbeat is also available in an E-commerce version that contains Interactions for building Shopping Carts.
Overall, I was very impressed with all the functionality that Drumbeat offers. There is certainly something in it for all Web developers, whether you develop database or DHTML applications. I will still have to know how to hand code ASP but I can now automate tedious tasks more easily. Drumbeat is a welcome addition to my toolkit.
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Previous: Drumbeat Starting Points, DHTML Editor?
Revised: May 9, 2000