An overview of the possibilities of online databases, using Caspio Bridge as an example

    1. What is an online database?
    An online database is often a web application that allows you to store, manipulate and publish data without programming and web design knowledge. By publication is meant the automatic generation of HTML pages for searching / viewing / editing data stored in the database. Applications in this category, again, most often, are based on SaaS and PaaS models . All you need is a modern browser to work. In other words, any housewife, having basic computer skills, can create, for example, a directory of recipes and publish it on her home page. With the ability to search, sort, edit, download results.

    But housewives, of course, are not typical users of such applications. The main task of online databases is to store data and publish this data on the Internet. A typical user is a journalist writing articles in an online newspaper. This type of application has several advantages, but there are some nuances. The user gets the opportunity to publish information on the Internet in 5-10 minutes, but he pays for it with one interesting limitation: you cannot use the application to do what the application does not know how to do :). Those. there may be a need for some purely individual buns that you can’t solve using online databases. Some readers may say: - “In an age when programming is gradually turning from art to craft, when there are more and more programmers every year, why another bike? Why do we need your online databases? Say, you need to get data from the database and display it on a web page? Do it yourself. This is not difficult. What, do not know how to program? Hire a programmer. The task is trivial, and implemented quite simply. " And, of course, they will be right in something. They are right, because it is often better to write something yourself, take into account your own needs, and if necessary, make the necessary changes yourself than use the finished product. No platform, online databases, is perfect. No platform will provide you with the functionality that you need. Applications written for your own needs will always (at least for a very long time) have advantages over the boxed versions of programs. And yet, online databases have enormous potential. What are the advantages of this approach? The advantages include the lack of need for any administration and programming. User data is stored on the servers of the company that provides this service. And this means: you do not need to buy or rent expensive servers, buy software licenses, think about creating archival copies of data, or pay for hosting. In the end, you don’t even need to write something yourself, or invite a programmer. Is everything ready. It is enough to import the data, if it is not already in the database, create a search page, and publish this page on your blog. The whole process will take 10-15 minutes. With all the advantages of this approach, there is, of course, its own fly in the ointment. And not even one. Data is not stored on its own server. All would be nothing but you do not have direct access to your own data. Only through the application interface, or support. There is no way to get additional functionality. You cannot change the default behavior of the application. Based on your data, you will receive fully-formed HTML markup. Obviously, each approach (independent development of the site and the use of an online database) has its advantages and disadvantages. In conclusion of this part, I would like to give a list and review of some online databases: that each approach (independent development of the site and the use of an online database) has its advantages and disadvantages. In conclusion of this part, I would like to give a list and review of some online databases: that each approach (independent development of the site and the use of an online database) has its advantages and disadvantages. In conclusion of this part, I would like to give a list and review of some online databases:Backpack , Caspio Bridge , Dabble DB , HostedDatabase , Google base , QuickBase , LazyBase , Logiforms , Qrimp , TrackVia , Wufoo , Zoho Creative

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    2. Caspio Bridge
    Caspio Bridge(hereinafter referred to as Bridge) is a platform for creating custom web applications without programming knowledge. For example, Caspio 2008 Voter Guide and Caspio Recipe Guide . Actually, Caspio's motto is “No more programming”. Typical usersBridge are people who are often not programmers: journalists who publish their articles in online publications, corporate users who need to quickly create any search forms, etc. People who are more or less familiar with programming can get some additional benefits. Namely: the ability to work with data using a Web service, the ability to add your own JavaScript and additional HTML markup, access to styles in advanced mode, and change existing styles using CSS. All drawings in the article are clickable.

    Well, for the sake of completeness, and whatever the topic was considered an advertisement :), I would like to give a few arguments by the journalist Derek Willis, on the topic “What is better for a simple American journalist: use online databases, or program yourself, in in particular, use Django and Ruby on Rails. ”
    Trial By Caspio ;
    Six Reasons To Look Past Caspio ;
    Caspio dustup ;
    Delivering data: Which solution fits best?

    This is just a private opinion of the authors, which not all share. Caspio's customers include both small businesses and non-profit organizations, as well as Fortune-500 corporations, digital media companies, government agencies and educational institutions. The company claims that more than 70% of the largest American newspapers use Caspio Bridge. The company was founded in 2000 by Frank Zamani, who is now president and CEO. The first version of Caspio Bridge was released in 2001. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, California.

    3. Features
    Bridge offers such featuressuch as: web-forms for adding / editing data, automatic e-mail alerts when data changes, search pages, loading and storing files, loading search results, creating authentication based on user data, export and import data, localization based on CSS styles, creating WML input forms for mobile devices, Сascading lookups, CAPTCHA, searching for records located at a given distance from a given point, and much more. The features that appeared in the latest version can be found here.. Pages created in Bridge are called datapages (they are essentially web forms). Datapage is the end product of Bridge. The bridge interface is multi-user. The rights to read, modify, delete objects can be assigned to both an individual user and a group. This approach allows you to work in Bridge a whole department, having only one account, especially given the fact that the number of users is unlimited. System requirements: In order to start working with Bridge, one of the browsers listed below and a broadband Internet connection are enough. A high-speed connection is only needed to work with the Bridge interface. For working with generated datapages, the connection speed is not critical. Browsers supported by Bridge UI:

    • Firefox 2.0 and higher;
    • Gecko based browser version 1.8.1 and higher;
    • Safari 3.1 and higher;
    • Internet Explorer 6.0 and higher;

    Initially, Bridge was conceived as some analogue of Microsoft Access, only for the Web. As a result, the Bridge interface is made in the style of a la Access'97. 4. Use Some ready-made solutions based on Caspio Bridge can be found online: one , two , three , four , five . How can Bridge help with publishing data on the Web? As the saying goes, "it’s better to see once ...". In the Training and Resources section

    several additional videos are available. Consider a small example. The journalist wrote a review of the new book. This book, after a while, should appear in libraries. To make it easier for readers of an article to search for a book, the author decided to create a search form to search for address data of libraries. The list of libraries is stored in the MS Access file. The whole process of publishing data can be divided into three stages: importing data, creating a page, publishing.

    a) We import tables with addresses of libraries (Libraries). This table contains a list of American libraries and their addresses. It is assumed that the user already has a table with geo-coordinates for each ZIP code (ZipCodesUSA), and the ZIP code for each library is indicated in the Libraries table. This is not a completely standard case, and most likely the user will not have geo-coordinates for the data he needs. In this case, you can order an additional service, by determining the coordinates for the given addresses. b) After import, we proceed to the creation of our page (some steps of the wizard have been skipped). Open the DataPage wizard. At the first step of the wizard, you can specify: the type of page to be created, the data source for the page, page name, style and localization of the page.

    In the next step, we select the fields that will serve as the search criteria. Also, pay attention to the calculated fields “Distance search”. When you add one of these fields, you will be able to search for records located at a given distance. Using the Logical operator, we can indicate whether all search conditions should be met or at least one. In the next step, we can configure how the fields should be displayed on the page. The screenshots show the configuration of “Cascading ListBox” and “Distance search”. Each field can be displayed in the form of some HTML element. After configuring the search page, let's move on to creating the results page. Three types of display of search results are available: Tabular, List, Grid.

    Two steps have been skipped: adding fields to the results page, as well as configuring these fields.
    At the end of the settings page with the results, you can add the ability to download filtered data or detailed information on the selected record, in the form of a CSV or MS Excel file; set the number of returned records; the ability to add, modify or delete entries; enable sorting; set the number of records per page. If desired, it is possible to add a link to the page, with more detailed information for each entry. The configuration page with detailed information is skipped. I can only say that you can display static data or let the user change the information.

    If the user will change the data, you can add automatic alerts by e-mail, after changing the record. After setting the text of the notification, save the changes. c) Let's move on to the process of publishing the created page. There are several ways to publish: Embeded, Direct, Frame. Direct is just a link, with a parameter that identifies the requested page. Frame is the same as Direct, but instead of a link, a piece of HTML markup with an iframe tag is provided. Embeded is a JavaScript script for integrating a data page into your existing web page. Here, you can specify the type of connection (HTTP / HTTPS), specify that you want to block unencrypted connections. After clicking the “Deploy” button, the page will be published. Let's see

    what we got. Since our page was created in a folder with authentication, the first time you need to enter credentials. Login: Habr. Password: Habrahabr.
    We open the page and enter the user credentials. After authentication, the search page will open. Search for trouble by state and city name. Please note that you can search by distance by entering the ZIP code and the desired distance. Moreover, if you set only the index, all records and the distances to each of them will be shown. Next is the results page. If necessary, you can view more detailed information about the library and edit the phone number. 5. Caspio ExpressDB Also, a few words, I would like to say about another Caspio application - ExpressDB

    . Video here. ExpressDB is a reliable database service for all interactive forms. Any web form can be connected to ExpressDB in just a few clicks. This means that all data sent by users of your page will be saved to the database without any participation on your part. Or such an example. A person has no website at all. For example, this is a baker. Every morning, he needs to receive orders for baking bread, rolls and croissants from local residents. Accepting orders by phone, or asking customers to enter the bakery on their own is inconvenient. Using ExpressDB is easy enough to solve this problem. The baker creates a new table in ExpressDB to store orders. Moreover, for convenience, you can create separate tables for houses / streets, assuming that the bakery has many customers. Then he creates a PDF file with the order form, the data from which will be sent to his table, and sends this file to clients. Now, in order to place an order, it is enough for the client to fill out and send the form, and in the morning to the baker to look at the orders received. ExpressDB has much less functionality than Caspio Bridge. In fact, this application has all of several tasks: save the data transmitted by the user, provide the ability to view and download data from the server.

    Reading Habr, I did not meet articles devoted to online databases. I wanted to fill this gap, and write an article that would help make up the first idea of ​​this area of ​​software.

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