What's a database?
Databases are one of the most powerful and flexible features available in the Pages application. With some configuration and customization, they enable you to add complex, data-driven areas to your community, using some of the basic underlying functionality that full IPS4 applications have.
Databases, as the name implies, are designed to hold data and display that to the user. This might be as simple as a table of records each containing a title and a body, from which you could make a very simple blog-like section, or it might be as complex as a completely custom interface backed by a large number of custom data fields specific to your needs - and the possibilities for this are endless.
Features of databases in Pages
Databases are searchable by default (although you can turn this off if desired). Each database is treated as a distinct area of your community, so on the search form, each database is listed as a first-class area to search, much like the Forums app for example.
Core suite features
Pages provides a range of core application features to databases that make even the simplest database feature-rich and well-integrated with your community from the outset. Commenting and writing reviews for records is available (although this can be disabled per-database). Users can also follow categories and records to be notified of new content wherever they are in the community. Social features such as reputation and sharing to other social networks is also built-in and available for records. Tagging and full moderation of records is also supported by default, and integrated across the suite as you'd expect.
In terms of adding/editing records, databases in Pages behave much like you'd expect from our other applications; that is, when a user with permission creates a record, they 'own' it. However, databases have an option for wiki-style editing, whereby any user can edit records after they are created. This approach is great for community-curated content.
Databases also support revisions for records. This means each time a record changes, the previous version is saved as a revision that can be accessed again later - you can also revert to an earlier revision if desired.
Finally, databases has special integration with our Forums app. When posting a new record to a Pages database, IPS4 can optionally cross-post the record as a forum topic, to a category of your choosing. But it goes further - you can even use the forum topic as the comments for the record, rather than the standard commenting interface that records have.
What does a database consist of?
There's a few key components in a database to be aware of when creating one:
The database itself
Naturally, you need to create the database itself. This is where you configure options that affect that database as a whole, such as sorting, permissions, and so on.
If your databases uses categories (you can optionally choose not to), they add another level of structure and permissions.
We'll cover fields in more depth shortly, but you can create custom fields for all kinds of data that you might need for your database. IPS4 supports a wide range of field types, from simple text boxes up to YouTube embeds, upload fields and intra-database relationships.
Templates allow you to customize the output of the database. Default templates are supplied with IPS4, and if you aren't a coder, using these defaults allow you to get a database up and running quickly. For coders, however, customizing templates is the best way to build complex data-driven applications.