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A dynamic web page is a page that can be generated dynamically, i.e. "on the fly" (the moment the page is called) by an application server. It often contains content from various sources (relational or object-oriented databases, XML files …).

Dynamic generation is useful or even necessary in the following cases:

  • Information will be presented according to a personal profile of the user.
  • The content offered changes very often (more than once a day) and its timeliness is of utmost importance.
  • Interactive or transactional services are offered (subscription to news or events, collection of data, discussion forums, ordering of goods or services, etc.)
  • Access to content that is kept in dedicated structured databases.

The difference between static and dynamic websites

A static website is composed of finished HTML pages that are completely replaced with each change of any element within the page. The update of the page is done offline and a new upload of the complete page is required to reflect the change on the production server. The upload can be done manually or automatically (for example regeneration by the CWCMS) and is always done in asynchronous mode, i.e. forced by the producer, not by the visitor.

In a dynamic website, the finished HTML page is only generated at the time of request by the visitor. In general, the layout of the page is fixed beforehand, but the content is filled dynamically from various sources (XML files, databases …). Update of dynamic sites is much easier because it concentrates on the update of the actual content itself, not on its presentation.

A dynamic website typically costs more in terms of development because of its complexity and in terms of machine resources because of frequent regeneration. It can however be a more cost effective solution in the long run and is certainly the most effective solution for sites with content requiring frequent updates.


Dynamic, animated or interactive website

A website is called “dynamic” when its content is generated dynamically.

When elements of website are moving or if some pages interact with user then website couldn’t be called “dynamic”. Indeed, it’s an animated or an interactive website.

These sites interact with the user usually through either a text-based or graphical user interface. For example, a page with a contact form is interactive but can be static.

Animated websites are often developed in Flash or DHTML. These technologies don’t request an application server. Flash needs a plug-in in the browser while DHTML is able to be performed by any browser.


Technology used for dynamic sites

The EUROPA distribution platform currently supports two different application server technologies: ColdFusion and the BEA Weblogic Java platform. 

  • ColdFusion applications are relatively low demanding in terms of programming skills; however, the ColdFusion language is less fit to support the development and maintenance of large applications, and the ColdFusion application server doesn’t respond well to very heavy and complex scripts. Coldfusion should therefore only be used for small to medium-sized applications.
  • Java applications are a bit harder to get going, and require advanced programming skills; however, both the underlying language (JAVA) and the application server scale well when the application grows in size and complexity. If, in the early analysis stages, your application turns out to be going to be large, complex, or both, you would be well advised to opt for JSP. Before you give it a green light, you should make sure to have access to the necessary programming skills for the entire lifetime of the project.
    The Weblogic server is based on Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE), the standard platform used to create Java-based enterprise applications. Because J2EE applications are standardized modules, WebLogic can automate many system-level tasks that would otherwise have demanded programming time.

More information about using ColdFusionRestricted area: This link points to internal pages and may not work if you are browsing as an external user. and Weblogic infrastructureRestricted area: This link points to internal pages and may not work if you are browsing as an external user. can be found in the service catalogue at DIGIT/Data Centre.