There's a vast number of legacy databases sitting out there just begging to become Web-accessible. There's also a large number of ways to publish them. Unfortunately, most involve either programming or a knowledge of the intricacies of SQL syntax. This article takes another approach. We'll look at "instant" solutions (read: intuitive, no programming) for making legacy databases accessible on the Web.
Let's start with the fastest and easiest way I know to make data accessible on the Web: askSam Systems' Web Publisher (Windows 95 or NT 3.51 and later), priced at $1495. AskSam Web Publisher lets you generate a searchable database from your already-existing documents, and put it on the Web in four easy steps:
Import your database (dBase, comma- and tab-separated text, MS Word, RTF files, Eudora mail, and other popular formats) into askSam 3.0 ($149.95) or askSam Professional ($395); an askSam database is created automatically.
Optionally, format text and numeric fields, using askSam's built-in word processor.
Design one or more search forms, using simple HTML tags.
Assign a URL to the database, create an HTML page for packaging it, and put them, along with Web Publisher (a CGI program), on your Web server.
Once installed, Web Publisher acts as a translator between your Web Server and your askSam database. When Web Publisher receives a search request from your Web server, it will request askSam to search its database, convert matching records into HTML code on the fly and make them available to the Web server for delivery via the Web to the user's browser. [Move on to the next part of the article.] This article first appeared in the Jan/Feb 1997 print issue of Web Developer.