All about Getting started with the database feature

You may have been to websites that had rich databases of information, such as PlantFiles or your favorite digital camera review site.

The database application at has been designed to give you the functionality that is present in these types of databases.

Now, with your time here at you have probably realized that there is much more to running a website than you thought. Setting up a forum system is a lot more complicated than being a user posting in those forums.

And the database is the same thing, except it is FAR more complicated than a forum.

Why is it complicated? Because it is powerful.

Some may want want a database that accepts checkbox options or input fields for type of animal, breed name, hair,fur,feathers,etc.

Others will want a database that accepts fields like "genus", "species", "bloom color", etc.

So the database is designed to allow you to create custom text input fields and custom checkbox fields.

In the end, the idea is to have one application that serves an infinite number of "Files" databases.

When you go into your Database Control Panel you will be intimidated. Don't fret, though. I will help walk you through this.

The database application will support free-form text fields (where you type in whatever you want) as well as checkboxes and pulldown menus.

So, an example might be:

Genus (text field)
Species (text field)
Height (checkbox with several options)
Spacing (checkbox with several options).
Invasive (pulldown with a yes or no option)

So, before you can can move forward, you need to decide right now what fields you want your database to contain. Keep in mind nothing is ever set in stone and you can add/remove things later. Please give a little thought to this, I'll wait.



By this point you understand the database a little better, and you have already decided what fields you will have in your database. The last big decision to make is to decide which fields will be "unique".

What are unique fields?

The system needs to know which of the text fields are completely unique to each entry.

Take PlantFiles for example.There are lots of plants with the same common name, same family, same genus, same species, but the cultivar may be different. At the same time, though, there can be plants with the same cultivar name but different genus/species fields.

Thus, the "unique fields" in PlantFiles would be family, genus, species, cultivar.

So, we have the same issue in our databases here. We need to define which of our fields must be unique.

When someone adds an entry, it checks to see if any other entries already exist in your database that have the same words in all of the unique fields. If so, it won't allow the duplicate entry to be posted.

The Pet database, for example, would probably just use "Breed" as their unique field. The camera database would use "Camera model" for their unique field. A database for roses might use the Rose's name as the unique field.

Okay, go to your main control panel and then go to the Database Control Panel.

You need to first create a database. Call it whatever you like, but that will be the name of your database. (You can change the name later).

Click to add the database.

(For those of you who have previously setup forums at, you'll notice that this feature works very much like the Forums Control Panel)

Now edit the database, and check the permissions. You can also set your other options, like allowing people to submit photos and comments, etc.

Okay, you now have a bare-bones database created. You've given it a name and you have modified the permissions to determine who can view it, who can post to it, etc.

Now you need to tell the system what fields you want your database to have. I'm going to use threegardeners as an example here. She's making a Dogs database.

So back at your database control panel, you will see your newly created database sitting there. So click on "Data Architect Control Panel".

This "Data Architect Control Panel" is where you will tell the system what information you want your database to contain.

So, the first thing to do is add a text field. At least one is required.

So, in this example, she will go to the area that says, "Create a new data field" and will type "Breed" into the area provided. She'll make sure the pulldown menu next to it says "Text field" and then click on "Create new field".

That was easy.

She can add another text field, if she wishes, called "Breeder".

Okay, now that we have a text field, we also probably want some checkbox places. So, in the same place, she'll enter a name like "Color". Then in the pulldown menu next to it, she'll pull it down and select "Checkbox", and then click Create new field.

Once that's created, she now has to add all the options that her members can check off under color. So next to "Color" she'll click "Options".

Now, she's going to one-by-one add every single choice she can think of that people will want to check off. She might add yellow, green, blue, pink, red, white, black, mottled, polkadot, etc.

When she's done, she'll return to the Architecture Control Panel and add another checkbox for some other set of options. Repeating this until she has all the possibilities covered.

Now that she has created all her data fields, the last thing to do is to tell the system which of the text fields are unique. She also needs to specify at least one field as a "required field". A required field means that nobody can submit an entry to the database if that particular field is empty. Lastly, she needs to decide which fields will be used to make the "name" of the entry.

So, she'll go back to the Architecture Control Panel and look at her table of text fields. In the left hand column are some icons. Click the grey snowflake to make a particular field unique. Once clicked, the snowflake will turn red to indicate that the change was successfully saved. Click on the exclamation mark icon to make it a required field. You can click the icon a second time to remove it if you changed your mind.

Lastly, decide which fields will be used for the "name" of each entry. Click the Magnifying glass for each field that you want to used as the name for each entry.

Believe it or not, at this point, your database is ready to start accepting entries. You've done all the hard work and you're ready for entries.

So, go to your Database Control Panel. You'll see your database listed there, so click on the database name.

That will take you to that database's front page.

Your only option is to "Add a new entry" so click on that. If you setup your database correctly, you will have a form on your screen where you can go ahead and post your first entry into the database.

Now post another one.

And another one.

With each entry you create, you can also add a images and a comment to the entry (if you allowed that in the preferences for that database). You first create the entry, then view the entry, and at the bottom of the resulting page you'll find the link to add a photo or comment.

Happy databasing!

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