A Tool for Webmasters: Building an Email Notification SystemBy Jeff Knight
This documentation assumes you have access to a server with IIS and SMTP installed and are able to read and write ASP to the server's web directory. The directory to which the ASP code is saved must allow scripts to run. You should have a good handle on code-level HTML and a general understanding of basic ASP.
Imagine that you want to create a web application that allows users to submit suggestions and questions; you need the input to be saved to a database. Each time a new question or suggestion is entered, you'd like to get an automatic email containing a link to a web page that lists only the information that was most recently entered into the database. This article demonstrates how to build such a system!
How to Create a Basic Database Entry Form
First you need to create your database. Open Access, select "new database-->blank database." Name your database
name.mdb and save it under
c:\data\intranet\name.mdb, where the C-drive is the root of whatever server you
are working on. Under
Tables create a new table ("design view") and under
save and name the table
You will get
some prompt asking you if you want a primary key; say "yes." Close Access.
Next, we need to create a simple form for a user to type in their name and
submit it. Open your HTML editor and enter the following:
Save this page as
BasicForm.html to a folder on your server (i.e.
Confirmation: How to input the contents of the Form into a Database
Next we need to create a confirmation page. Open your HTML editor and enter the following code:
Save this page as
The purpose of this page is to harvest the information that was typed into the
textbox in out last page, open the connection to the
name database, insert the
data into the database, and, finally, retrieve the ID number that Access
assigned to the data. This last part is especially important, since it gives us
a way to identify this data apart from everything else in the database.
Test to make sure your code is working properly. Open your web browser and enter
the path to
the form and hit "enter!" Now open your
name database and check to see if the
data was submitted correctly. You should see whatever name you entered into the
inputname. You will also note on the
formaction.asp page an ID
number posted which corresponds to the ID in the database. We'll come back to
Going through the code in formaction.asp step by step, we first declare our
variants using the
Dim command. This is not strictly necessary, but will be
required if you choose to use the
Option Explicit method.
(To learn more about
Option Explicit, be sure to read:
Next, we specify
that conn is connection, and rs is the recordset in the connection. In
particular, the conn is
Driver ... This connection may also be set up using
the ODBC connection, in which case
DSN="ODBC_NAME_OF_THE_DATABASE_CONNECTION. A third approach is to use an
include file containing the
(To learn more about include files, be sure to read:
The Low-down on Includes.)
rs.Open specifies that table we
want opened (
name), includes the connection we just set (
(0,1,2,3, or 4) indicating the nature of the connection. The next couple lines
deal with getting the ID.
rs.Update updates the database and, finally, we
close the connection and close the file out.
rs.addnew must be used if information is going to be added to the database. If
all you need to do is get data, this won't be necessary. The next line
rs("inputname")=Request.Form("name") sets the column
inputname in the
recordset of our database equal to the value of the textbox from the page
In Part 2, we will look at how to retrieve the ID number of the data that was sent to the database, and, ultimately, how to send the confirmation email.