Using What We've Learned

This month Mr. Lerner shows us how to set up a web site using many of the techniques he's taught us over the past months.

Most people do not need to be reminded of their birthdays. And indeed, the use of birthdays in this example was simply for demonstration purposes. Even with the limited information we stored in our database, we can create a bare-bones personalized home page that displays the user's name in the title. With a little more work, we could print a special message on this user's birthday, or an indication of how many days remain until the user's next birthday.

And because we have stored all users' birthdays in our database, we can create applications that access other birthdays on the system. For instance, we could create a CGI program (or a Perl/HTML template) that finds other users on the system with your birthday. The possibilities are endless, and putting the information into templates means that you (as the programmer or webmaster) can concentrate on writing the code necessary to make things run, while the site's editorial and production staffs can make things look pretty and ensure that they are grammatically correct as well.

With that, we end our whirlwind (albeit longer than usual) tour of integrating multiple techniques into a single web site. Web sites based on databases are increasingly popular, for good reason. The largest and best-known web sites combine back-end databases with templates and cookies to give each user a personalized experience; now that you have seen how it can be done, create some on your own sites.


Reuven M. Lerner is an Internet and Web consultant living in Haifa, Israel, who has been using the Web since early 1993. In his spare time, he cooks, reads and volunteers with educational projects in his community. You can reach him at