Build a CMS for Your E-Commerce Site, Part Three

Developing your own Content Management System takes time, but can pay off in a variety of ways. Here's how to make it happen using PHP. Third in a monthly series.
By Peter Zeidman

In this series we've been working through the construction of a Content Management System, for use with an e-commerce Web site.

The foundation has been laid in the form of a PHP class for accessing the database ('dbConnector'), and to kick off this month we'll set up the database itself, and create the first working part of the system.

Creating the Database
The first table we're going to add to our database will store content chucks -- product information or other data -- for display on the Web site. The ability to share information is the most important function of an Web site, and the job of the Content Management System is to make doing this as easy as possible.

Consider your own data requirements, a few important ones spring to mind for most tables:

 Field  Purpose Type
     
ID A unique number given to each item, and the primary key of the table. Integer
Title The title of the item Varchar(300)
Tagline A very short summary of the item Varchar(600)
Section The category to which the item belongs Integer
TheArticle The item itself Text

Before we can create the system itself, we need to create the database to store our information. The code below will set this up if you're using the MySQL database system - users of other systems should modify the commands appropriately.

Copy and paste the following into the MySQL admin tool, or use one of the many free 'client' programs available:


CREATE TABLE`databasename`.`cmsarticles` (
`ID` int(6) unsigned NOT NULL auto_increment COMMENT 'The unique ID of the item',
`title` varchar(200) NULL COMMENT 'The item title',
`tagline` varchar(255) NULL COMMENT 'Short summary of the item',
`section` int(4) NULL DEFAULT 0 COMMENT 'The section of the item',
`thearticle` text NULL COMMENT 'The item itself',
PRIMARY KEY (`ID`)
);

If all has gone according to plan, you should now have a working table in the database. We're now going to create a page to allow you or your staff to enter items into the system.

Creating the editor
First, design a form using the HTML editor of your choice. Create text fields for each database field (excluding ID). An example is below:

 Title:

 Tagline:

 Section:

 Article:

Set the action of the form to be newArticle.php (with the method 'post'), and save this page in a folder called cmsadmin (described in the previous portion of this series). If any of this is unclear, just browse through the attached file at the end of this article. Note that the 'section' field is currently a text box, by the time we've finished it'll be a drop-down list, allowing you to choose a section of the site in which to place the item. Next, we'll create the PHP code to deal with whatever is typed into this form, and save it to the database for later retrieval. The code is on the following page, with explanation beneath.

Continued on Page Two.


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