Database publishing on the Internet
1. Create your database.
If your database is going to be used by people who aren't familiar with the layout you have chosen, you should consider creating help files for your databases. See Help Point 550 for details.
2. Set up security.
You may want to control who sees your data: perhaps only members of your organisation should be allowed to do so, or only people who have paid a subscription. You may also want to allow some people to see your data and others to be able to make changes, then you need to set up some user profiles. This is a standard Cardbox feature, and you can read all about it in the Cardbox Book. You can choose to have a default profile, without a password, that gives limited access (eg. read-only) to users who do not have a password; or you can arrange for a password to be required before anyone at all can access your database. You could also charge a subscription for access: Help Point 585 describes how to do this.
3. Decide where to put your database.
Your database needs to be on a machine that is permanently connected to the Internet (unless, of course, you want it to be accessible only during office hours). You have several choices:
- Host the database yourself: if you have a permanent Internet connection, this is the simplest approach.
- Ask your ISP (Internet service provider) to host it for you. The Cardbox server uses very few system resources, and it has run for months (so far) without ever needing to be restarted. Nevertheless, many ISPs may be nervous about running software that they have not necessarily heard of before, so don't expect them to agree automatically.
- Find a supplier of dedicated servers: for a monthly or annual rental they will allocate a computer in their data centre for your exclusive use, and you can use this for web hosting and email as well as for hosting Cardbox databases. At the time of writing, we are using Rackspace, but there are many suppliers in this competitive market and you should conduct your own survey of potential suppliers.
- If your database is not very large and not very busy then a dedicated server can be overkill. A more recent development is the growth of shared "virtual servers", in which one physical computer is made to behave as if it were many virtual computers, each of them being isolated so that if one crashes then the others won't be affected. These are slower than having a dedicated server of your own because all those virtual computers will be sharng the same CPU, disk drive, and network connection; on the other hand, a virtual server can cost one tenth of the price of a dedicated one. To find suppliers, search the Web for "user-mode Linux" or "virtual server" or "virtual servers".
- Ask us to host your database for you. We don't promise to say yes, but if it is an interesting database, and you are happy to make it available for public read-only access, then we may well agree.
4. Put the database there.
How you get the database onto the machine that runs the Cardbox Server depends on the circumstances. If the computer is on your own network then you will be able to copy files; or you may use the same sort of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program that you already use to upload your Web pages; or you may create an empty database on the Cardbox Server and then use Tools > Management > Upload to replace it with the database and format file that you have created.
5. Tell everyone how to access it.
Create a Web page that describes your database and that has a link to the database itself (for people who already have the Cardbox client) and a link to the Cardbox Client download page so that people who do not have the Cardbox Client can download it.
Please tell us about your database and give us a simple description in a form that we can put on our Public Internet Databases page.