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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) March 9, 2000


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http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. CONTESTS: Submit & Win Photoshop 5.5! 2. FEATURED REVIEW: Beat your own Drum - Macromedia Drumbeat 2000 3. NET NEWS: * Cracker Taunts Police Over Site Break-Ins * Domain Arbitration Already Drawing Critics * Lycos, Intel Offer Web Publishing Tools

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1.CONTESTS:

>Submit & Win Photoshop 5.5!

The article submissions are pouring in, but it's not too late for you to submit yours! Every Thursday the Update features a new article contributed by our readers through our Open Publishing Initiative. You get fame, hits, and the respect of your peers... and for one more week, writers published in the newsletter also get a brand new copy of Adobe System's PhotoShop 5.5! Keep your eyes peeled for a brand new giveaway in next week's newsletter.


This week, Aneesha Bakharia reviews Macromedia Drumbeat 2000. Does this Web development tool make creating "dynamic, database- driven sites" as easy as it claims? Read on and find out.... Thanks for the review, Aneesha, and enjoy your copy of Photoshop!


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****************************************************************** ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. FEATURED REVIEW: Beat your own Drum - Macromedia Drumbeat 2000

Drumbeat 2000 promises to be "the easiest and fastest way to create dynamic, database-driven Web sites." This is certainly a

big promise for any development tool to make. I set about to reviewing Drumbeat, to find out if it could indeed be the answer to easy, code-free ASP development. If it delivered on its promise, I would be much more productive at developing Web applications, make a larger profit and have more satisfied clients. There was also a possibility that Drumbeat, like many other visual tools I have tried of late would not come close to delivering dynamic, database-driven Web sites. If this the case, then at least I could rest easy knowing that I am really as productive as I could be using my current tool set - Frontpage 2000, Visual InterDev and Dreamweaver.

Drumbeat 2000 was very easy to install and only required Microsoft Personal Web Server (included on the CD) to run ASP locally. I was able to have Drumbeat up and running within a few minutes. Initially, I found the Drumbeat interface rather cluttered and confusing. It did not have the elegance of Dreamweaver, which was something that I was expecting seeing that both products are from Macromedia. It was then that I realised that Macromedia recently acquired Elemental, the previous developer of Drumbeat - this would explain the different feel. At this point I turned to the Drumbeat manuals - a Quick Start Guide and a Users Manual. Both were easy to follow and very descriptive. The Quick Start Guide set me on my way to using Drumbeat and discovering a whole new Drumbeat vocabulary.

>Creating a site from a Starting Point

Drumbeat includes a number of Starting Point sites. These are pre- built Web sites that can be customized to suit your needs or simply used to learn the basic and advanced features of Drumbeat. Drumbeat ships with Starting Points for Assets Management, an Employee Directory, Guestbook, Intranet, Search Engine and User Login. I choose the Intranet Starting Point and after selecting a

few options in the New Site Wizard, had a fully functioning Intranet equipped with (among other features) a database-driven employee directory with updateable records. I could preview the site locally though Personal Web Server, with no problems reading or writing to the database. The real test for Drumbeat came when I used the Publishing Wizard to publish the entire site to my production server. Drumbeat passed with flying colors - the only thing that I needed to do was set up a System DSN (Data Source Name) for the Access database, which was well documented in the Users Manual. I must admit that I found it hard to believe that no additional components or installations were required on my production server.


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>Drumbeat - as a DHTML editor?

Once I started using Drumbeat I was pleasantly surprised. I had been expecting a database development tool, but found functionality that could rival any WYSIWYG Web site design tool in terms of asset management, pixel precision layout, user defined templates and DHTML creation.

Drumbeat has a built-in Asset Centre. This is the central location where all media associated with a Web site is stored. The entire contents of the Assets Centre can easily be searched and previewed. Graphics can easily be dragged to the Layout Window and positioned to the nearest grid line. The Asset Centre even holds text files and these too can be dragged to the Layout Window. Basically everything that can be contained in the Layout window can be positioned in this manner including tables.

Perhaps the true power of Drumbeat as a DHTML editor lies in the toolbar full of SmartElements. The User Manual describes SmartElements as "the building blocks used to assemble Web applications." I totally agree with this statement. There are SmartElements for common HTML elements such as form elements, text, horizontal rules and images, which can be found in any HTML editor. There are also SmartElements to create image rollovers, slide shows, sliding text, and DHTML cascading menu's. Creating a rollover button, for example, has never been simpler. Place the "Image Button" SmartElement in the Layout Window and then drag the appropriate images from the Asset Centre onto the SmartElement. The first image is the up state and the second image is the downstate. SmartElements reduce the need for Javascript to be hand coded. The SmartElement toolbar contains only a sample of the SmartElements available and can be customized to include SmartElements for Active X Controls, Plugins (such as Flash and Shockwave), Applets, Scriptlets, ASP, and COM Objects (e.g. CDO mail).

Through the use of Interactions, Drumbeat also allows you to determine how page elements respond to users and interact with each other. Simply click on a SmartElement and a range of available Interactions appear in the Interactions Centre. The Interactions Centre contains Interactions for DHTML effects, ASP, database queries and form validation.

The Template Manager is something that will come in handy, especially if you ever intend on streamlining your Web site design. Basically, the Template Manager shares design elements among pages. It allows any number of templates to be created and individual pages to be assigned to these templates. Once a page has been assigned a template, the inherited layout can't be edited on the page itself. Only the template can be edited. Unlike Themes in Frontpage, no additional server components are required. When pages containing templates are published, Drumbeat automatically generates all the required HTML to produce the shared design elements on all pages.


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>Can Drumbeat really deliver custom database applications in ASP?

In order to get any database driven application up and running in Drumbeat, you still need to know the basics of database design and how to set up System DSN's. I would strongly suggest learning to use Access or SQL Server and becoming familiar with table creation. While Drumbeat has wizards to perform queries, and generate HTML interfaces for databases, you will still need to use a separate product to create your Databases in. If you're just starting out, you can't go wrong with Access 97/2000.

Drumbeat certainly makes publishing databases to the Web extremely easy, even if you're a newcomer. There are a number of options available for publishing data to the Web. Databases can be not only be published using ASP to create dynamic applications but Drumbeat can also publish static Web pages, or use data binding to create dynamic client-side databases. The latter options will no doubt suit developers without access to a server running ASP.

Once a System DSN has been created, the SQL Query dialog box can be used to create a new query by typing an SQL statement, importing a stored query from a database or using the SQL wizard. It was even possible to use SQL parameters that could be dynamically changed on a page. The Dataform Wizard really made me feel depressed - If only I had been able to get my hands on a tool like this months ago! The Dataform Wizard automatically generates ASP code to search, update, insert and delete data from a database. It also allows you to choose the type of form element you would like to use to display each database field.

When all the pages are generated, they can be edited in the Layout Window and a range of database Interactions can be assigned from the Interactions Centre. This is where Drumbeat starts to have limitations in terms of developing custom ASP applications. What if you wanted to do something and it was not available as an Interaction? You may just have to learn to code ASP after all. Drumbeat is extensible however, and does allow for custom Interactions to be created. These are known as Contracts. I am eager to develop Contracts for common ASP tasks. I suspect other developers will be doing the same and soon there will be lots more Interactions available for download. At the moment, Interactions can be downloaded from the Drumbeat 2000 Element Exchange Web site: http://www.macromedia.com/software/drumbeat/download/exchange/ Drumbeat is also available in an E-commerce version that contains Interactions for building Shopping Carts.

Overall, I was very impressed with all the functionality that Drumbeat offers. There is certainly something in it for all Web developers, whether you develop database or DHTML applications. I will still have to know how to hand code ASP but I can now automate tedious tasks more easily. Drumbeat is a welcome addition to my toolkit.

About the Author:

Aneesha Bakharia is an Australia freelance Web developer specializing in ASP and Javascript. She has built many database- driven Web applications for Manhattan Multimedia, located at: http://www.mmmedia.com.au

You can contact Aneesha at: bakharia@squirrel.com.au

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: Cracker Taunts Police Over Site Break-Ins, Domain Arbitration Already Drawing Critics, Lycos, Intel Offer Web Publishing Tools

>Cracker Taunts Police Over Site Break-Ins

Curador, the cracker who has stolen credit cards from at least eight small e-commerce sites and then posted them online, is growing more brazen by the minute. In an interview with InternetNews Wednesday, Curador claimed he has hit five new Web firms and will soon publish hundreds more stolen credit card numbers at a new site, which he said he registered using one of the stolen cards. http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article/0,1087,4_318381,00.html InternetNews.com, 000309

>Domain Arbitration Already Drawing Critics

Is Michael Robertson, MP3.com CEO, a cybersquatter? Yes, according to a ruling last month by the World Intellectual Property Organization, in one of the first of what may be a series of controversial rulings under ICANN's new Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy. http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article/0,1087,3_317461,00.html InternetNews.com, 000308

>Lycos, Intel Offer Web Publishing Tools

Lycos, Inc. and Intel Corp. Tuesday announced that the companies are providing free multimedia and web publishing tools to both Lycos' Tripod and Intel's WebOutfitter Service members. http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,1087,10_316081,00.html InternetNews.com, 000307

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com ecook@internet.com

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