In the real-time environment of the Web, users want information now, and at some point an organization will need to have a dynamic relationship to data.
As an example, data is available on a server somewhere — maybe an Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server database — and you need to get information from it and probably to it.
The potential scope on this is broad and can be broken down into six steps:
- Know what data is needed and where to get it (i.e., the specific database)
- Make a connection to the data source — i.e. the server (Note that this step can be quite technical.)
- Request the data from the server, usually with an SQL statement
- Process, validate, or pre-format the data returned from the server
- Present the data to the user (i.e., display it in a Web page)
- Possibly get data from the user or another source of interactive input
At least four pieces of software (and probably three computers) are involved in this process: a Web server, a script running processes on the Web server, a database server, and the browser.
All of these components must work together. Generally, the person overseeing the data migration also has responsibility for the correctness and integrity of the data. Is a database management expert needed to do this? No, although of course experience does help.)
In most cases, some knowledge of SQL is required. What is needed most though are tools that help with the process. Most of these are scripting frameworks — typically software running on the Web server — such as Perl, PHP, JSP, ASP.Net, ColdFusion, or an application server system. In the next few pages we will discuss each of these.