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What is ODBiC?ODBiC is a CGI program that is executed by your Web server to process "template" (or "script") files that you write. These templates produce standard HTML Web pages, but they can also do data processing such as interacting with your ODBC databases.
A CGI program can be executed by a Web URL that references a program file rather than an HTML file. To get data from a Web user, for example, a CGI program can be executed as the "action" function for an HTML input form. The CGI can process this data and create a Web page to send back to the user's browser. CGIs make Web page content dynamic rather than static, and they allow Web-based services beyond simple document presentation.
In addition to this SQL interface, ODBiC provides many other useful data processing functions, without the complexity of CGI programming, to make your site interactive.
What can ODBiC do?Since database interaction is the primary purpose of ODBiC, it has many unique built-in functions to simplify some common requirements. For example:
- Automatic HTML table generation from database queries.
- Automatic "query by example" and "Boolean keyword search" queries generated from a user's input.
- Automatic HTML forms and SQL statements for database INSERT and UPDATE operations.
- Automatic HTML "pull-down choice lists" with choices selected from the database.
- Easy "loop" processing for multiple rows selected by a query.
- Easy multiple-level "master/detail" or "category" grouping of query results.
In addition to database access, ODBiC provides many other functions for creating dynamic Web pages. For example, you can:
- Control processing and output with simple or complex conditional testing.
- Use a rich set of arithmetic and character string operations.
- Send e-mail messages, optionally with multiple attachments, to one or more specific addresses or to a mailing list, which can be either in a text file or dynamically selected from the database with a query.
- Send and receive browser "cookies" to track user activity from one page to the next and from one visit to the next.
- Upload files from the user's browser to your host.
- Provide easy user login and automatically maintain user data in a database.
- Automatically maintain "session" variables that are temporary but persistent across multiple page views on the same site visit.
- "Redirect" a user to a different URL.
- Read and write text files (e.g. HTML files, delimited or fixed-length data values, and log files).
- Include other template files.
- Execute HTTP "get" and "post" requests to other servers.
- Define custom functions for common operations.
- Return image files to a browser (i.e., return <IMG SRC="url"> file after doing some processing, possibly to select the file to return, for example).
- Return any special-purpose HTTP headers to the browser.
- Validate user input with character-type test functions or UNIX-style "regular expressions".
- Execute system commands and other programs on the server.
- Set default values for omitted input fields and database columns.
- Define translation (text substitution) tables, such as for database codes.
- Format output values with "masks".
- Easily process HTML <SELECT MULTIPLE> input values.
- Easily process or display any arbitrary HTML form input (e.g. send all input data in an e-mail message without knowing in advance what the fields are).
- Trap any internal script, database, or e-mail errors to provide special processing or to hide cryptic error messages from the users.
- Output a "trace" of script processing to assist in debugging.
For increased flexibility, ODBiC can also be run "offline" instead of as a CGI program. For example, if your database is on your PC but your Web pages are on your ISP's host machine, you can generate your HTML files on your PC by running ODBiC from the MS-DOS command prompt or the Windows "Run..." box, then upload the HTML output to your ISP.
What does ODBiC Require?ODBiC runs on Windows NT, XP or 95/98/2000 systems, under any Web server that supports the CGI 1.1 standard. (A Web server is required only for "real-time" database access via the Web. It is not required if ODBiC is run "offline" to write HTML files to disk. On XP, offline usage requires using the Program Compatibility Wizard to set the program to run in Windows 95 mode with "visual themes" disabled.)
Database access requires ODBC drivers for your databases. Windows is shipped with a set of drivers, typically at least the ones required for MS Access, dBASE, FoxPro, Paradox, and text files. MS Office adds a driver for Excel. Most of the commercial database packages for the PC, such as MS SQL Server, Sybase, and Oracle, include ODBC drivers.
ODBiC requires some knowledge of SQL and HTML to be used effectively. However, there are example files available and examples in the User's Guide to get you started.
How much does ODBiC cost?ODBiC costs only $39 for the single-copy license, and only $79 for the unlimited-copy "corporate" license.
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