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Development Guidelines
Design features of books in the Intersect Digital Library


Overview :: Software :: Page Objects :: Resource Types :: Database Structure :: Navigation Structures :: Construction

Software and Server Information

    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 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.

    one server, scaled to three separate servers

    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 that when the user 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 on our webserver. Design changes do not require programmers to write new code. They are done in standard HTML webpages by content and Web designers.

    WebSTAR, the software that runs our webserver, is capable of serving in excess of five million hits per day. It is in the category of a 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)

    Lasso Web Data Engine is what we use to connect our HTML pages to the Filemaker database. 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.

    FileMaker 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, and word processing with tabs, indents, font control, and embedded data fields in text.

    Macintosh 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 connectivity.


WebSTAR is a registered trademark of 4D SA or its subsidiaries. The Lasso Web Data Engine is a trademark of Blue World Communications, Inc. FileMaker Pro is a registered trademark of FileMaker, Inc. Macintosh and Apple are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc. All other brands and products referenced herein are the trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

Overview :: Software :: Page Objects :: Resource Types :: Database Structure :: Navigation Structures :: Construction

Project Intersect

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Last updated: March 18, 2003