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Internet Application Development


Armadillo Associates have been designing/implementing Web applications using appropriate tools, including raw HTML, JavaScript, Java/J2EE, DreamWeaver, PHP, MySQL and Flash for more than five years.

Internet projects we've worked on include:

  • Architect/project leader for Sony's eMarker project
    We designed the object-oriented software architecture for this application so that two separate and unruly development groups, one in San Francisco and one in Seattle could independently develop Flash, HTML, EJB, Oracle applications that came together with minimal integration effort. (Sony eMarker; Spring - Summer 2000) The best part was that this was a real technical challenge -- a very complex, hip project. The worst part was that the guys in Seattle were total spoiled brats who were unable to meet the deadlines they set. We did stay friends, though I'd have really liked it if their moms had agreed to spank them for me.
  • Designed second-stage architecture and wrote functional specification for integrated Internet-based film production/costing application. (Zoomedia; Winter 1999 - Spring 2000)
  • Designed/implemented the documentation of a complex middleware product in HTML and JavaScript. Also designed the user interface for the database-connectivity wizards for this product. (Centura; Winter 1997 - Fall 1998)
  • Participated in technical design of UI for EON, eStamp's Web-based postage stamp generator, in technical design and specification of the eStamp architecture and in technical design and specification of the eStamp API.
  • Documented Visibroker for Java and Visibroker for C++, Borland's CORBA implementations. Emily spent about two years at Borland/Inprise/Borland. She reports that, "For my last six months there, I found myself the only technical writer on the project. Talk about a way cool API, and developers who knew their stuff!"
  • Documentation/architectural design of an HTML/XML-based middleware API/product called AT&T AnyPage API.

Internet Portfolio

Some websites Emily designed and implemented recently using PHP, JavaScript, raw-HTML, and MySQL are:
  • photographer's database-based website (work in progress)
  • The Wilkinson School
  • Coastside Film Society website
    Information about monthly events on the Coastside Film Society's website is fully automated. Entry of film information into the database triggers update of all relevant pages. The Film Society membership form, like several I have implemented, automatically updates an email mailing list and MySQL database without manual intervention:
  • Creativend.com Emily programmed this site in PHP and MySQL so that the artist could update her own pages by herself. She can change the menus and the work samples displayed by making simple changes to the contents of the site database.
  • Armadillo Associates Articles database
    These pages in PHP display content, including images, entered by unskilled data entry personnel without using HTML. Headers, footers, menus, labels update automatically.
  • Currently bashing out design/implementation of Mark Devlin's website. Mark is a talented but extremely "self-involved" (he calls himself this!) graphics designer. He wants to do the graphical design himself, which is fine, and he wants to do the coding of the website as well, but can't actually do this all that well. We act as technical consultants, when Mark is willing to listen.

Structured data

Most applications Armadillo Associates works on interface with backend data structured in some way or other. Some of our more interesting projects have included:
  • XML - Armadillo's experience with XML/XSL dates back to around 1997:
    • We use XML to easily update dynamic pages on my websites. (For example: /cmc/readevents.php3 . Note: This website is no longer being updated, but it was used monthly to announce events.)
    • Did a great deal of hand-coding in XML on AT&T's AnyPage project.
    • Actually, most of the Java frameworks and SDKs we work with involve XML.
    • For example:
      Armadillians did a great deal of hand-coding in XML on the AnyPage project. Many of our documentation projects lately have involved at least some use of XML. And, we use XML to easily update dynamic pages on our websites.
  • SQL and other database stuff
    • The eMarker project we architected for Sony required a large, complex, and very dynamic Oracle (SQL) database. As architect on that project, we worked closely with our highly qualified DBA to ensure that the database would meet our needs. We may not always spout syntactically-correct SQL off the top of our heads but we know what a good database design looks like/works like.
    • We use MySQL as the backend database to our website applications.
      For example, the Internet-based group scheduling application we are currently developing is written in PHP that interfaces to a backend MySQL database.
    • For many years, we maintained the member database of the .
  • SGML
    Designed the upgrade to a CD publishing system that had to convert terabytes of SGML information into HTML for publication every three months. (The upgrade was necessary because the system that existed was unable to process through the data fast enough ...) The backend database was Sybase.

PHP

Nearly every page on this site uses PHP or will in the near future.

Forms and email

We started by implementing our
email page in PHP because Web-based email makes it possible for users to send email without ever leaving their browsers. And, because it was fun to learn.

Consistent page formatting

Next, we implemented our Robots Lessons in PHP; it makes sense to implement a series of pages that require a similar look using this tool.
We now use PHP to create most of the headers and footers for many of the currently-updated pages on our site.

Liquid menus

One of the coolest tricks we do with PHP is to implement what we call liquid menus. We have just one PHP program that displays all the general-purpose context-menus in a number of our directory hierarchies. Basically, all this PHP program needs is a text file that lists what the prompts for the menu items should be.

When we use this program, when one of our clients requests an addition or a change to a menu, all we do is:

  • Upload the new/changed page (the page to be displayed when the new/changed menu item is clicked)
  • Add the new menu item to the text file that contains the menu entries (or, change the existing word) and upload the changed file

Our liquid-menu generating PHP is used in the menus on these sites:
We ought to figure out how to distribute this to the masses.
Too bad PHP is a bit slow. We have begun to implement our list of science museums as a MySQL database hooked to a PHP front end, but don't hold your breath.
 
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