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Week 6: Bootstrap Content using Active Server Pages and Databases

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It's pretty unlikely that users will be interested in adding content to your personal Web business unless you put in a little seed content yourself to get them started.

(To download a zip containing the source files for this article, click here.)


In a personal Web business, users contribute the bulk of your site's content. The key to getting people to contribute content to your site is having good bootstrap content—content that makes users want to contribute their own content. The best bootstrap content is database-driven. In this article I'll show you how to create database-driven bootstrap content using Microsoft Active Server Pages and Microsoft Access databases. But first, the "Hacker Phrase of the Week."

Hacker Phrase of the Week

"Senator, that was uncalled for."

Usage: Whenever someone makes a totally insulting remark to you.



    Your code runs slowly, it's full of bugs, and you smell. You, sir, are a poor excuse for a programmer.


    Senator, that was uncalled for.

To this point, I've geared most of my articles toward helping you set up your very own personal Web business. I've shown you how to choose a theme for your personal Web business (week 1), register a domain name (week 2), sign up with a hosting provider (week 3), choose good autonomous content (week 4), and design your site's user interface (week 5). In terms of the autonomous business model, we can graphically depict this setup activity as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Autonomous business model, Web site in place.

As you can see, we've just started—there are a lot of information transactions (grayed-out arrows in the model) that we need to implement. If you've been doing the homework assignments at the end of each article, you have a prototype of a Web site that really doesn't do much. For instance, our example Web site—based on hacker phrases—looks like Figure 2, with none of the links actually working.

Figure 2 User interface for our sample autonomous Web business (www.ProfessorF.com).

So you're probably anxious to get started implementing some realTM content. Well, your wait is over. It's time now to start implementing some of the information transactions in the autonomous business model. Specifically, we'll work on implementing the arrows corresponding to bootstrap content (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 Bootstrap content links.

Implementing these links requires knowing more than simple display-oriented HTML. You'll have to learn a little bit about databases, server-side scripting, and forms. In this article and the next several, we'll look at how to incorporate these technologies in our personal Web businesses. But first, let's examine what bootstrap content is and why you need to add bootstrap content to your site.

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