The operations of the Project website are based on the interactions
of three major software packages: the webserver, WebSTAR, the
Web application scripting tool, "Lasso," and the database,
Filemaker Pro. This section describes how these applications operate
to produce the database driven content within this site.
The Intersect Digital Library uses a Web server consisting
of three components: The Web server, the application server, and
the database server. The Web server handles the HTTP requests from
Web browsers, the application server executes the programming logic
and rules which define the application, and the database server performs
all queries, modifications and other data management tasks. These
three components work together to present the thousands of Web pages
that comprise the Intersect Digital Library.
Each of these servers are running on a single Power Macintosh G3
computer. The software includes WebStar 4.4 Internet Server (4D,
Inc.), FileMaker Pro 4.1v3 Database, and Lasso 22.214.171.124 Web Data Engine.
As Web traffic increases to the Digital Library, we are able to scale
the servers up to meet the increased demand by separating the servers
onto two, three or more computers.
By separating the Web server functions, we are able to create and
serve webpages at the moment they are requested by a client's browser.
Today there are several Web development tools that provide similar
functions. Some use scripting architectures that allow developers
to write script commands in the HTML pages that will be processed
by a server-side parser. An example of this kind of architecture
is Microsoft's ASP server. While server-side scripting is very powerful,
it requires Web page design tasks to be done by a programmer who
can rewrite the programming script for every design change. Also,
server-side scripting produces a slower response to client interaction
with the Web page, since all of the scripts must be interpreted by
the server, rather than the client's computer.
Other Web development tools similar to ours process many of the
script commands in the HTML pages on the client side. This means
clicks on a page link, the requested page is assembled on the fly
by commands in the Lasso script to combine content objects
selected from our database and an HTML webpage design stored
webserver. Design changes do not require programmers to write new
code. They are done in standard HTML webpages by content and Web
the software that runs our webserver, is capable of serving in excess
of five million hits per day. It is in the category
mid-level enterprise server. It ranks fourth in global market share
of .edu (educational) domains, and as of February, 2003, ran on
2.54% of the 87,393 total servers in the educational domain.
Over the years since the Center for Electronic Studying began developing
online learning objects and environments, Apache servers have taken
the lead, with a 52.13% market share. Microsoft has 33.38%, and Netscape
has 4.33% in the educational domain. (source: ServerWatch,
"February 2003 Security Space Survey Results," published
March 5, 2003)
Data Engine is what we use to connect our HTML pages to the Filemaker
It works in concert with WebSTAR,
extending the server’s ability to serve interactive and dynamic
content. Lasso operates by intercepting form data and/or specially
formatted URLs, processing specific Lasso format files and returning
the processed files to the client. Lasso outperforms PHP, ASP and
ColdFusion technologies, not only in speed and easy development,
but also in
security and cost. As a Web application server, Lasso runs on our Web
server and connects to Filemaker databases allowing the Web browser
access to data within
those databases. In addition to serving as a database-to-Web connectivity
tool, Lasso supports various robust server-side programming languages
allowing sophisticated control of the display and manipulation of
dynamically driven data.
Pro can be used to build flat file and relational databases from
raw data for long or short text files, images, form letters and reports.
Features include scripting, interoperability with Microsoft Excel,
indents, font control, and embedded data fields in text.
OS 9 is a reliable and secure platform for running our
Mac server. To ensure a robust, fast and reliable website, we perform
daily backup, uninterrupted power supply, and high-speed Internet