One of the frequent questions in the forums is "How do I create a blog?". There are many commercial blog systems out there, and many full-featured blog providers, like Blogger, but you can also create a simple blog using the standard tools of Dreamweaver. This tutorial will be equally applicable to ColdFusion, ASP, PHP, ASP.NET, or JSP because we will be using standard Dreamweaver server behaviors to create the blog. Part 1 of the tutorial covered how to create a simple blog using point-and-click features of Dreamweaver. Part 2 will focus on adding more features to the blog, such as a system for adding and viewing comments, and more administration options.
This series of articles will assume that you know how to work with Dreamweaver to create a data-driven site. For example, you should know how to create databases and connections within your chosen server model.
When we left off, we had a basic blog that allowed you to post items and display them. Now you need a way to edit these items once they are posted. We'll create another page in the Admin area called update.php (or .cfm, .asp, or whatever file type you are using) that will allow this. The items were displayed on the index.php file in the admin folder. We'll turn this index page into a main administration page, where we'll be able to click on an item to update it or delete it. First, we should put a link at the top of the index page to the insert.php page that was already created, so we can insert or update items directly from the index page:
<p><a href="insert.php">Insert a blog item</a></p>
Next, within the repeat region already on the page that displays the blog items, we'll create a link to an update page that will be created next. The easiest way to do this is in design view. Follow these steps:
Figure 1: The link dialog box to set the dynamic link
This effectively chooses the current blog item and passes the blog_item_id field to the update page. Next, we create the update page.
The update page will be built similarly to the insert page. We'll use an Application object so that we can avoid having to create form elements manually. Everything is done for us. The one prerequisite to building the update form, however, is to create a recordset that pulls only one record -- the record that is passed in the URL string from the index page. Follow these steps to create the recordset. We'll do this in the Simple dialog box for the recordset, only because it will be easier to describe for all server models as the steps are the same. Create the recordset named rsUpdateBlogItems. Set it up using the blog_items table, showing all fields, and filtering the blog_item_id field by a URL parameter named id, as shown in Figure 2:
Figure 2: Setting up the Simple Recordset Dialog Box
Next, add the Record Update Form Wizard. To use this wizard, click Insert > Application Objects > Update > Record Update Form Wizard. There is also a button on the Application insert bar that performs the same function. That brings up the interface shown in Figure 3 (the interface may vary slightly in different server models) .
Figure 3: The Record Update Form Wizard
You should set it up using the following parameters:
*depending on your database/server model, you may want to use Text instead of Date. Also, the format of the date entered may be different for various server model/database configurations (i.e. 03/03/2004, 2004/03/03, 2004-03-03). Part 3 of this series will show how insert the current date/time automatically with a little hand-coding.
With that in place, click OK and you have your blog item update page. You can dress it up with titles, CSS, etc, but the page is functional at this point. The completed page is shown in Figure 4:
Figure 4: The completed update page
The update page is now completed. It's time to move on to the comment sections.
As you may recall, the blog has two index pages: the index page in the admin area, which we just worked on, and the index page in the main site. Moving back to the index page in the main site, we'll add a couple of links to the comment.php and viewcomment.php pages (again, using .cfm, .asp, or whatever server model you are using.) Open the index page in the main site and add two links inside the repeat region, as you did for the index page in the admin section. Follow the same steps that you used to add the link for the update page -- pass the blog_item_id variable in the url. You should create links on text such as Add Comment and View Comments, as shown in Figure 5:
Figure 5: After adding the Add Comment and View Comments links
Next, create the comment.php page, which will allow people to add comments. Before adding the insert to the page, however, we'll add a URL variable to the Bindings panel. This will make it easier to pass the blog_item_id to the database insert, which you'll see in a moment.
The panel should now show the URL variable, id. Nothing has been added to the page at this point, but the variable will be useful for the insert.
Next, we'll use the Record Insertion Form Wizard, as shown in Figure 6:
Figure 6: The Record Insertion Wizard
You should set it up using the following parameters:
The blog_item_id will relate the comment back to the original blog item that is being commented on. This should be passed as a hidden form field to prevent users from editing it. One extra thing needs to be done to pass the blog_item_id to the database: you need to set up a default value. This can be done easily using the URL variable that we previously set up. Click the dynamic data icon (lightening bolt) next to the Default Value field. Choose the URL variable that you just set up. After doing this, the value of the URL variable will automatically populate the hidden field, and also add the blog_item_id to the database insert.
Now that there is a way to enter comments, you need a way to view comments. Open the viewcomments page and add a recordset to the page, using the Simple dialog box once again. Create the recordset named rsViewComments. Set it up using the blog_comments table, showing all fields except comment_id and blog_item_id. It should be filtered on blog_item_id and ordered by comment_datetime in ascending order, as shown in Figure 7:
Figure 7: The rsViewComments recordset
Next, do the same as you did in part 1 of this series for the index page, only this time you will be using the fields from the blog_comments table. After adding the recordset to the page, give your page a title and a heading (like "Comments ") and then drag these recordset fields from the Bindings panel to the page one by one: comment_title, comment_datetime, comment_name, comment_email, comment_text . You can make comment_title an <h2> tag and comment_datetime an <h3> tag. You can also add an <hr> tag beneath the comment.
With that in place, drag your cursor over the dynamic items and the <hr> tag, effectively selecting the entire comment. Next, apply a Repeat Region to the area, showing all records, by clicking the plus sign (+) in the Server Behaviors panel and clicking Repeat Region (or by choosing it from the Application item in the Insert bar or Insert menu). If you browse the page now, you will see any comment that you inserted previously.
Now you should be able to browse your blog items using the index page, comment on them using the comment page, and view all comments on a particular item using the viewcomments page.
Blogs are simple content management systems that can be put together easily using some built-in Dreamweaver functionality. In this part we've added functionality to the blog to allow updating items, and posting and viewing comments to the items. The next part of the series will move away from the automated features of Dreamweaver and show some of the more advanced aspects of blogs, such as creating an RSS feed. Also, because dates can be entered incorrectly, we'll show a couple of different techniques for inserting accurate dates into the database.
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