You can really take your Web design to the next level by integrating a database. By doing so, you can make your Web pages dynamic in the sense that you can interact more directly with your visitors by not only capturing information they provide (such as shipping address and customer feedback), but you can also present customized information to your visitors based on their preferences. For example, perhaps the first time they visit your site they complete a customer survey form. Then the next time they visit, you query this information in your database and present only the information, products, and services in which they are interested.
As you will see, setting up and actually integrating a SQL database into your Web site isn’t too difficult.
Perhaps the best place to start is with the actual installation of SQL Server 2000. But before you launch into that, you should be aware of the different flavors of SQL Server 2000.
- Enterprise Edition. This is the 100 percent full-blown version of SQL Server, and it comes equipped with every aspect of functionality and usability. This version easily handles complex tools for managing data across multiple server and network environments. The Big Daddy version of the application, it is perhaps not the best place to start if you are a relatively inexperienced database developer. However, if you own this version, consider yourself lucky. You have everything you will ever possibly want or need in a database solution.
- Developer Edition. The Developer Edition is significantly less expensive than the Enterprise Edition (relatively speaking, depending on where you purchase it and under what legal circumstances you make your purchase). It contains all the functionality. However, this reduction in cost comes at a price (no pun intended). The Developer Edition is not designed to run on a production server; rather, it is designed for use on a desktop in a development environment, free of network and server issues.
- Standard Edition. The Standard Edition is the poor man’s SQL Server (with regard to cost), but don’t let this fool you. If budgets are tight, the Standard Edition will do just fine, although you will lose a bit of the advanced functionality you find in the Enterprise and Developer Editions.
- Personal Edition. The Personal Edition is nearly identical to the Standard Edition, but it runs on Windows 2000 Professional, Windows NT Workstation, and Windows 98. This is a good edition if you are limited in your choice of operating systems.
- CE Edition. This very limited version of SQL Server is kind of nifty because it is designed to run on a handheld computer. The one tremendous benefit of this version is that it offers nearly full compatibility with its big brother versions, so if you are on the go, you can sync up your data on the CE version with a larger, more robust version back at the home office.
- Desktop Edition. This version of the application is designed purely to serve an application; it offers no real data management or administration features. If your client is a very small company or one with a tight budget (or both), you could conceivably develop your solution on one of the more robust versions, and the client could purchase the Desktop Edition just to serve up the functionality.
Although some would disagree, I have chosen to utilize the Standard Edition of SQL Server 2000 for these series of articles because it provides a nice middle ground (especially with regard to price) with hardly any loss in performance or functionality at the level of experience and interest I assume you have. If you have the Personal, CE, or Desktop Edition, I highly recommend you acquire one of the other versions, though, because your ability to follow and understand the examples in this book will be severely limited without one of the more robust versions.