If You Get Stuck

One frustrating aspect of learning dynamic Web site development is the errors that you will encounter. A dynamic Web site is typically the fusion of many technologies, and some of them, especially ASP and ColdFusion themselves, depend on the configuration of the server. If the server (or database) is not configured correctly, you will see error messages even if you entered all the code correctly in Dreamweaver. Worse, the error messages that you see are often hard to interpret (especially those in ASP), and in some cases, misleading.

The following are some strategies you can use to resolve these problems:

Use the files in the lesson's Complete folder. One reason these are provided is so that you can use them if something goes wrong with your files. You can also print out the code for your file and the one in the Complete folder for a comparison.

Consult Macromedia's TechNote on common server errors. Though created initially for Dreamweaver UltraDev, the predecessor to Dreamweaver MX, this page contains a listing of some of the most common server errors and their solutions: http://www.macromedia.com/support/ultradev/ts/documents/common_server_errors.htm

Verify that the page you are testing has all of the data that it needs. Some pages depend on the presence of form or querystring/URL variables to work. For example, a SQL query on a detail page might filter database records based on a querystring or URL variable that it is expecting from a related page. If you test that detail page directly, without going through the related page first, the data ASP or ColdFusion is expecting won't be present, resulting in an error. Always test starting from an application's starting page, rather than a page in the middle of the process.

Know when to move on. While you should try to resolve any errors that you encounter, don't beat your head against the wall. The goal of the book is really for you to learn dynamic Web site development, and not literally to build every aspect of the Newland Tours site. If you get stuck, at a certain point, it's better to swap in the file from the Complete folder and move on.

Try to determine whether the problem is due to code or configuration. With static HTML development, if a page doesn't look right, it's almost always because of something in your code. When they see a server error, many beginners assume that they made a mistake in their code, and while that is possible, it's just as likely that there is a configuration problem, such as the wrong permissions, a service that's not available, or a missing DSN. The easiest way to test is to swap in the file from the Complete folderif it doesn't work either, then your code is probably fine. Take up the matter with your server administrator.

Check the book's Web site. Because ASP and ColdFusion errors are so common and hard to troubleshoot, the author and the editorial team took extra pains to ensure that the code in the book and on the CD-ROM are bug free. However, no book is completely without errors, and if we learn of any, we will post them on the book's page at http://www.peachpit.com.

Ask your questions in the appropriate Macromedia Dreamweaver forums. Macromedia has a number of free forums where anyone can go to ask questions or search previous posts. The forums are frequented by Macromedia tech support staff and Dreamweaver/ASP/ColdFusion veterans and gurus, and you can often get an answer to your questions within a matter of minutes. To access the forums, visit http://www.macromedia.com/support/dreamweaver/ts/documents/dream_newsgrp.htm. I will visit the Dreamweaver Application Development newsgroup periodically and pay special attention to posts that reference this book in the title. I cannot guarantee to provide support for every problem every reader might encounter, but the community in that forum is sufficient to help most people get what they need.