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Planning the database

After you have determined your data requirements, think about ways to structure the database that will optimally convey stored information to your users. You can decide how you want to structure your database before you begin conceptualizing your page layouts, or while you develop the application interface itself. Your individual workflow needs will determine exactly how and when you create your database.

You may want to sketch the database out on paper before you begin creating it. The first step is to choose the tables in the database. A database table contains collections of related entities, such as persons, objects, or events, and divides this information into horizontal rows and vertical columns. In database terminology, each table column represents a field, and each table row represents a record.

Once you have decided on the number and types of tables that will make up your database, choose the columns for each table. Columns describe the properties of each entity or record in the table. For example, you might have a database table called CONTACTS that contains the names and addresses of a group of people. The CONTACTS table might contain columns for each person's name, street, city, state, zip code, and phone number. Each horizontal row in the CONTACTS table would represent a single record for an individual, much like a trading card contains information about a particular person.

In general, it is good practice to make sure that each of your tables has a primary key column—a column that contains values unique to each row in the table. This allows you to select an exact row when searching the database. Most primary key columns consist of ID numbers, but you can use other kinds of primary keys such as government form numbers or product serial numbers.

For more information, see Dreamweaver Help (Help > Using Dreamweaver > Appendixes > Beginner's Guide to Databases).

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