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Depending on you or your client's needs, you might choose either to run ColdFusion on your own server or to go with one of the many Web providers now offering ColdFusion support as an optional feature. With either method, you have a few decisions to make at this point.

If you host your site with someone else, you'll probably still want to be able to test your ColdFusion applications on your local system before uploading them. Macromedia's special ColdFusion Studio package is ideal for this function because it provides a single-user version of ColdFusion server.

It's important to spend some research time before choosing a Web provider to run ColdFusion. Find out from potential hosts what version of the software they support, how many datasources they allow, and what is required to update a datasource. Compare these with your needs or the needs of your client.

If you plan to run ColdFusion on your own system, you'll need to choose between the Professional Edition and the Enterprise Edition, depending on your site's requirements and your system software. With both editions, the software installation is a very straightforward process. Use the default settings and you'll do just fine. After the software is installed, all changes to ColdFusion operation are handled through the Administrator, which is accessed locally or remotely by a special Web page.

For ColdFusion to recognize a database, the file must be defined in CF Administrator as a datasource. Datasource setup supplies a name for the connection, tells ColdFusion where the database file resides, and specifies which ODBC driver to use, depending on the make of database software that created the file. After you define a datasource, Administrator offers a verify function that will quickly tell whether ColdFusion is able to access the database.

In tomorrow's discussion, we'll look at the key element behind every ColdFusion application—the database.

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