A Database for your website: what it is and what it is used for
Published by Incomedia in WebSite X5 News · 21 June 2021
Maybe you don’t know it, but your website, no matter how little it might be, is far more complex than you think. There’s a lot going on backstage for it to function properly: data to be stored, requests to be handled, information to be displayed!
The presence of a centralized database is what makes the magic happen. For instance, the database linked to your WebSite X5 project reports:
- the registered users having access to specific locked pages
- the comments and ratings for blog articles or products
- the orders placed on your online store
Luckily, you don’t have to learn how to work on a database to make your website work correctly. Still, it may be interesting to know what databases are and what they are used for. And now we’ll find out together.
What’s a database?
Databases are structured data archives which are used to rationalize the information update and management, so to make complex searches possible.
In other words, databases collect data (such as records or files) and typically organize them in rows, columns and tables to make them easily accessible.
Your database is located on your hosting provider servers, if you are wondering it. Basically, when someone visits your website, their browser send a request to the server where your website is hosted. The server sends the necessary information back and that’s it.
All the applications which generate, manage and query the data stored on a database are known as Database Management System (DBMS). Thanks to the DBMS is it also possible to define the admins and users of a system and provide security mechanisms and data check.
Any examples of DBMS? MySQL, Access, Oracle and DB2: these are the most popular and they vary according to the kind of syntax they are based on.
WebSite X5 uses MySQL, which is one of the most popular open source software.
Ok, now you know why your server database is called “MySQL Database”: because, when data are stored, edited or removed, WebSite X5 sends a query to the MySQL database.
Many database-related queries are automatically carried out. However, it is also possible to directly access the database and manually perform these kinds of commands, or alternatively you can use a database manager to simplify and speed up some procedures and activities which would be otherwise impossible to perform.
We will later see where you can find your WebSite X5 database and how you can access it, but let’s first find out which kind of tables are included.
How your WebSite X5 database organizes the data
Surely, you’ve already realized that databases can store a huge amount of data. In order for them to be easily and quickly accessible, data are organized in tables, each reporting a specific data category.
With the update to WebSite X5 2021.3, we have simplified the way the database is managed on your projects.
Before this update, it used to be possible to connect more than one database, and you had to report the name of the table to be used for any function for which a database was needed (contact forms, comments, user registration etc.). On the other hand, it is now possible to connect a single database to the project, and the tables are now automatically and transparently managed by the software itself.
WebSite X5 will then rely on a singe centralized database in order to create a table for the comments, one for the messages and so on. Tables like these:
As you can see, each table has an ID which is used to uniquely identify the project and a name which helps understand the kind of data they report.
How to access the database
In most cases, your database is completely self-sufficient. You don’t have to access it to create contents or manage your website. Therefore, having a clearer idea about the database architecture only helps better understand how things work.
If you want to access our website database, you will need to contact your hosting provider, as it stored on their server. The access procedure may change according to the hosting service of your choice, however you will probably find a dashboard and an interface called phpMyAdmin.
We suggest you to always make sure you have a recent backup of your project before carrying out any operation on the database so that, in case of unwanted changes which are then difficult to cancel, you can rely on a backup to restore the original website status. In this way, everything will work properly again.
If you have a project created with a version previous to v.2021.3.1, and you are wondering how to update it, don’t worry! The architecture change won’t create any issues. You will only need to choose the database you want to keep on using. WebSite X5 will then duplicate the necessary tables so not to lose any data and therefore ensure the proper functioning of your website. For more information, please see: v.2021.3: Notes on the project conversion.