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Case Studies

CASE STUDY - Orvado Intranet
Mar 10, 2008 - Kenneth W. Richards

Summary

With the ASP Nut site, we developed a comprehensive resource site containing useful articles and resources for web application developers. This site contains a complete reference book on the Active Server Pages scripting language, along with articles, resources, a message board and a search feature.

The Problem

Since we initially did all of our web application development using Active Server Pages, we decided to write a reference work for that scripting language. There were not a lot of good reference sites that give detailed information on the ASP scripting language. We knew that we could provide something better that would benefit the whole web development community.

Technologies Used

Article Publishing

One of the primary requirements for this site was creating an article management system that was second to none. The system had to be easy-to-use yet flexible enought to handle a large collection of technical articles aimed at the novice to the seasoned professional.

We developed a smart article formatting application which required a minimal knowledge of HTML to create professional articles. In fact, you could create beautiful articles with no HTML whatsoever. You only need to know some simple macros or HTML tags in order to do indenting and code listings.

All of the articles needed to be organized into categories to help visitors to the site find what they are looking for. To this end, Orvado created a category system which organizes and groups related articles and allows for easy navigation. This can be seen at the top of the ASPNut home page as a series of category names followed by a count (in parentheses) which indicates the total number of article that can be found in the category.

Our scripting language choice was Active Server Pages. While it doesn't provide the rich set of features as a language like Perl or PHP, through COM object development, we were able to provide all the features we needed with a tight integration with SQL Server and IIS (Internet Information Server.)

Authoring Books

The book authoring module allows the operator to write chapters and individual sections and move them around. All information from the books are stored in a relational database making the task of re-organizing chapters and sections a breeze. Our book authoring system is fully integrated with our content management system and provides a familiar and intuitive interface for authoring your book.

Once the book has been written, visitors to your site can browse your book using a simple interface with the "table-of-contents" on the left and the contents of the book on the right. Individual chapters of a book are represented as nodes in a "tree-view" control. Allowing to navigate the sections of your book just like they would using a Microsoft Windows™ help file.

There is no limit to the number of books, chapters or sections you can create. In the future we will be expanding our book authoring to allow for collaborative or open-content book authoring meaning that anybody on the web can contribute to the content of your books. The book format presents a perfect method of organizing large amounts of information and making it easily accessible to visitors to your site.

Site-Wide Search

One of the new applications we have recently started to offer is the site-wide search feature. This allows visitors to search for content located on your site by typing in a few simple keywords. On ASPNut.com, you can test this feature by going to the home page and typing in your search criteria in the search box that appears on the upper-left part of the page.

Our site-wide search may be configured to search any content that is stored in the database and can be viewed on the site through a web page. Each type of data that may be searched is called an "index" and you may create as many "indices" as you need in order to make all of your content searchable.

Since a resource site like ASPNut contains so much dynamic content, it makes a lot more sense to make the database content searchable rather than the web pages themselves.

Once an index is created, it will automatically be maintained by the content management system. As information is added or deleted, the index will be updated immediately so that visitors will always see accurate search results when looking for information. Even though, they could still find information by browsing through a category structure, the search feature allows them to quickly find what they want.

User Interface

For the user interface, we decided to use a standard left-column layout. This is important when building a reference site because it puts all of the navigation elements in familiar places.

Content Management

Other standard features this site includes are Orvado's world famous content management system, a member registration and mailing list application and a suggestion box. This web site is still currently under development and more features are being added all the time.

We can offer all of these features on your site as well, you should visit our "a-la-carte" page to find detailed information about each application module we offer and how you can get started creating an enterprise-class web site to promote your business or organization.

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