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Structure of the Site

The basis of the new InformIT site structure is a standard three-tier architecture:

  • ASP, using VBScript and some JavaScript, provides the front-end user interface and display.

  • The business logic is implemented utilizing Java in the second tier.

  • SQL Server 2000 provides the database back end.

As with any project, simplicity in coding often drives decisions. For that reason, business logic often ends up being handled in the ASP layer, or even in database stored procedures, rather than being broken out strictly in Java. We strove to maintain an environment in which a small change in one layer would not require massive rewriting of the overall structure. That is the main point of tiering the architecture, isn't it?

One of the key features of our new InformIT is a navigation object known as the Browse Topic Box (BTB). That BTB, with some structural souping-up, resides in the left navigation bar of many of the pages on our site (see Figure 1). It allows the user to select a topic area, such as Programming, and "drill down" into content specific to that topic. In this example, only articles, books, and authors who have material relating to programming will be displayed. Even the search can be filtered to exclude all other subjects.

Figure 1 The good old BTB.

A feature like this would obviously require that every piece of content (articles, books, and such) be tagged with keywords that describe its particular areas of relevance. How else would we know what articles to place under what topic? Along with the BTB, we created just such a taxonomy, or structure of categorization, for use in tagging our content. I'll talk more in the future about how the taxonomy ties in to the BTB.

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