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Dynamic DataBase Made Easy in RapidWeaver

Stack-Its just announced EasyDB for RapidWeaver. Now I'm a designer and Database is way above my pay grade, so I was a little sceptical about the "easy" bit. Nevertheless, I downloaded the demo version (yes, there's a demo available) and had a play with it. After all, I owe it to my regular readers to write a review…

The first thing I noticed about EasyDB is that the set up – although simple – does take some patience.
First off, you'll need to set up a database on your hosting server.
Well, I'd guessed that already, but it's a painless process once you've accessed you control panel – and Bill has a video online to show you how just how to do it.
In my case, it's just two mouse clicks. Just make a note of the login details, you'll need them very soon.

Using the EasyDB Login stack, you should now add a login page to your site, so that you'll be able to access the data in your database once it's online.

So – it's time to get started! You'll need to add a database Credentials stack to your RapidWeaver page and publish it. The credentials stack contains the name and location of your database and the login details. The Credentials stack allows your page to access the database that you just created and that is necessary before we can continue.
Then, following the video tutorials on Bill's website, you need to load the page into your browser and confirm the setup messages, you then need to deactivate "setup credentials", republish and refresh the page in the browser.

The next step is to add a Database stack to your page. We have a database on the server, but it doesn't contain any data. The database stack adds the data rows and columns to the database. As such, you'll need to give the database a name and define the fields that you require in the setup panels, e.g. firstname, lastname, email, address, etc, etc. Once that's done, you can publish the page, and check online that the action was successful.
Because "setup database" is still active in the settings panel, you'll need to deactivate that, republish the page and refresh your browser.

If you check the database on your host's servers, it should now contain all of the filed names that you just added – just waiting impatiently for your data.

But we're not quite ready yet, we don't have anywhere to display the data.
We need a TextGrid stack to get us started.
This is the exciting part: publishing your first data list to your page. Your database can actually contain more information than you want to display on this page, so you need to inform the page which fields to display. So in the TextGrid stack, you need to add the names of the dbase fields that you want your visitors see and supply a display-name for each of these fields. Once you've done this, you're almost there: repeat the publishing process as before and you should now see a database awaiting content!
Log in and add some content. If you already have your content in a spreadsheet, you can import it into EasyDB as a CSV file.

So what can your database contain? Well this will make a lot of people happy – the TextGrid can contain Small Text, Large Text w/ carriage returns, Integers, Floating Numbers, Date, Time, Money, Email, Images, Links, Checkboxes, Color, Rating & Progress Bar
The FreeForm stack can contain Text, Integers, Floating Numbers, Date, Time, Money, Email, Images & Links.
And all of this information is grabbed by some magic PHP code that Bill has hidden somewhere behind the curtains and displayed dynamically on your page. The second that an entry in the database is altered, it changes on the page – live.

FreeForm? Did someone mention FreeForm? Yes, EasyDB also supplies a FreeForm Setup stack and a FreeForm stack.
The FreeForm stack setup is a little more complicated, but it will allow you to dynamically grab individual data-rows from your data base and display them more, or less in a layout of your design. I've not gone through the process of setting up a FreeForm Stack because, to be quite honest, I just didn't have the time. However the process is similar to those mentioned above, it simply involves adding and defining multiple FreeForm Stacks.

The result… Each line of your database will now be displayed within a slideshow. Obviously cool, if you've added images.

EasyDB – Stack=-Its

If you've added a TextGrid to your page, it will display selection fields that will allow your data to be filtered by field name and content. You can set how many entries should be displayed per page and, of course, EasyDB adds a page navigation when there are further entries. Your data can also be exported to a CSV file

EasyDB, true to its name, makes setting up a complicated database relatively simple. It also has the added advantage of being able to grab data from a database for freeform display on any of your pages. The setup needs a little patience and, in my personal opinion, a centralised admin page could perhaps simplify matters, but – as I already stated database is way above my pay grade, so I'm not the expert to pass judgement on that…

If you need to publish a database online and need something that is more 'in-depth' than the simple CSV solutions that are available, EasyDB is the way to go.
Being a PHP/MySQL solution, depending on the content collected within your database, you can process and republish that data as required – dynamically.

Bill has placed a multitude of instruction videos on the product page to get you started. I wouldn't have known where to begin without them!


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