Separating the Content from its Presentation

The main idea behind the concept of separating the content from its presentation is to allow website developers a useful framework to develop their website giving them the ability to change the website’s appearance whenever they like without needing to redo the content structure. This article will explain the rationale behind separating content from presentation.

Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t just one method for implementing this concept. More than that, since the introduction of technologies such as CGI, ASP, and PHP that allow web developers to generate dynamic web pages, a lot of companies have found creative ways to develop their website applications using this concept as their foundation.

Over the past few years, the internet community has been trying to create a set of standards for creating web sites. A new technology called CSS or Cascading Style Sheets has been introduced. There is nothing actually new in the way CSS handles a web page’s presentation. CSS allows the developer to define a style for each html tag element. This is similar to the method developers (programmers) used in the old days when they attached a variable to each html tag defining its style. The major difference is that CSS style definitions can be interpreted by most of the existing browsers available while in the older method the dynamic web page engine performs the interpretation.

The internet standards organization W3C has encouraged the use of CSS by enhancing its ability to control the web page’s look and feel. New style options have been added to the CSS specifications that have not been added to the HTML description language. There’s no doubt that this was a smart move. It’s forced web developers to use CSS to achieve an attractive web page that also supports the principle of content separation. Unfortunately CSS did not find its way into the internet mainstream easily because of compatibility issues with most web browsers. These days CSS is widely supported by most of the major web browsers, while CSS2, an enhanced version of CSS still has serious compatibility issues.

Obviously, the separation of content from its presentation deals not only with the styling aspects, but also with browser compatibility issues. The styling aspects were the first to be handled by web developers and web designers. As the complexity of information technology (IT) systems become increasingly more difficult to maintain, the internet community is looking for a solution that will become a standard so that content can be easily be managed. One goal for this standard is to define a “language” that IT systems can “talk” with each other and exchange information. Large corporations have historically used many different software platforms in their networks to conduct business. Internet based applications can provide a single platform that can act as an intermediary between all of these different systems and allow communication between them.

XML (Extensible Markup Language) has been adopted as a standard to present the content itself. OFX (Open Financial Exchange) is a close relative of XML that has been widely used by financial institutions who have been using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems to transmit orders and invoices over private networks, intranets and the internet for several years.

The need to present the content in a standard way that separates it from any design elements was so urgent that for the first time in software development history all the three major players (SUN, IBM, and Microsoft) actually agreed with each other and XML become a standard almost overnight and was adopted by many content providers and news agencies.

Yet the concept was not fully implemented. CSS handles the styling aspects while XML handles the document content. What about the webpage layout? New websites are been published each day by thousands. Every day millions of new web pages are being added to the internet’s global database. Webmasters have found that changing the page background color or the font color might not be enough to keep their website fresh and polished to compete with other new websites. However, changing the website layout can sometimes involve a lot of effort because it involves modifying the web page source code. XSL was introduced to solve that issue. Consider XSL a set of rules that can describe a web page layout. Combine it with XML (and optionally with CSS) you will get a valid html file.

XSL is very similar in its mechanics as any other dynamic web page generator. Beside the fact that XSL is platform independent, its biggest advantage is that it can be processed on the client side. The web server sends the client the content using XML format and the layout definition using XSL format. By doing that, the load on the web server’s CPU is reduced allowing it to perform other tasks more quickly. However, XSL was not adopted by all the major web browsers. So unlike XML, XSL has not found its way to the market easily.

Before you run back to your desk and start redesigning your website according to these magnificent standards, you should be aware that those technologies are really not needed most of the time. In fact, using them unnecessarily can cause performance problems. CSS usually will not cause your system to slow down. Just try to keep your CSS file as small as possible. Many web developers maintain large CSS files with lots of unused style definitions. Deciding to work with XML is a serious decision. If your website generates dynamic web pages supported by databases like MySQL, adding additional XML functionality will definitely reduce your website performance. Sometimes you won’t have a choice and will need to upgrade your hardware to maintain your website’s performance. There is no rule of thumb for this issue. The decision should be based on each system and its engineering demands. My advice to you is to think two steps ahead. Try to predict what kind of future services your website will be providing. Plan your website properly at stage one and save yourself lots of effort later.

Do You Understand The POINT Of Negotiating?

Although one of the Presidential candidates explains his qualifications, by focusing on his negotiating skills, negotiations are, but one of the many skills, and assets, needed to be a strong and meaningful leader. While everything should be considered, and the best possible deal/ agreement should be sought, this must be done, in proportion to the overall focus and needs of one’s organization! Certain activities, especially those including contracts, agreements, pacts, etc, need quality, effective, negotiating skills and abilities. However, this is both an art and a science, because unless one proceeds in a win – win manner, the agreement rarely works effectively, over time! What is the POINT of any negotiations?

1. Priorities; positions; positive result: Begin the process by clearly identifying, and knowing your goals, needs, and priorities. What things are so – called, deal – busters, and which might be able to be somewhat modified? Do you clearly explain your positions, in an open manner, so you come closer to being on the same – page, with your negotiating adversary? The hoped – for result of the process, should be an overall positive one, which will address what your organization needs!

2. Organized; options; opportunities: Many enter into a discussion so ill – prepared, they take seemingly forever, to get to the crux of the matter! Begin by knowing what you seek, and have an organized game – plan, and/ or approach! Try to conceive of various options and contingencies, so you are well – positioned, and prepared, to take advantage of any potential opportunities. For example, if you are negotiating an event which includes foods, have an open discussion about what reduced the venues costs, and, thus, the savings might be passed on to you!

3. Integrity; intentions; ideas: In one’s zest to win, some take a short – cut with the truth/ facts. The best way to negotiate is by maintaining your absolute integrity, despite the temptations to exaggerate, etc! Are you clear on your intentions, because if you are not, how can you expect the other party, to clearly know what you want and seek? Will you present your ideas, so as to explain your priorities, and seek a meeting of the minds?

4. Needs: Break your wish – list, into wants and needs! Let the needs component, be the driver for the negotiating process!

5. Timely; mutual trust: Having personally negotiate thousands of contracts, agreements, etc, I strongly believe the quality of one’s negotiating, is exponentially enhanced, when there is a high degree of mutual trust and understanding! Don’t get hung – up on the past, but rather seek timely solutions, which will drive a win – win result!

If you hope to be a meaningful leader, you must understand the essence and POINT of negotiations and the negotiating process. Don’t look at this as an adversarial scenario, but rather seek a meeting of the minds, which results in win – win!

The Online Video Spokesperson Presents A Personal Touch

Just when you think you can’t get any more interactive with Flash, DHTML and other dynamic tools available on the web today something else comes along to add new meaning to the word “interactivity”. The latest buzz in web technology is Online Video Spokesperson. Online Video Spokesperson Technology gives the viewer the illusion that someone in front of the screen is talking directly to them. It somehow emulates the experience we have when watching a weather forecast. A weather man/woman is standing in front of a screen with a graphic representation of the weather on it and he/she explains what is happening. Online Video Spokesperson gives the web that personal touch that is as yet unrivaled.

Online Video Spokesperson is a method for providing live motion video that plays over the top of any existing website in fluid presentation without being restricted to a media player window. This amazing new technology allows internet marketers and web entrepreneurs to update, announce or present their products and services in a captivating, engaging manner that affects the buying decision of the consumer through personal interaction.

This new technology allows a real person to walk out over the top of an existing Flash or HTML based web page and deliver a promotional message, special offer or company information and direct them to your particular “call to action”. There is no need to redesign the existing site in order to accommodate this feature. This tool virtually eliminates the need for headlines and catch phrases. What could be more effective than someone actually telling you what is important?

With millions of sites all over the world trying to catch attention, it is very difficult to keep visitors in one site for more than 3 minutes. Keeping the visitor for longer than that is an achievement in itself. Getting the same person to visit different areas of your site is the real challenge. If you are an online merchant such as Amazon.com, how can you sell if you’re visitors don’t stay long enough to look through your products?

Did you know that the television industry’s key income generator is paid advertisements? And how do they make sure these advertisements are seen? They show blockbuster movies, game shows, soap operas, news, etc. Online Video Spokespersons function much the same way as these methods used by television networks to entice viewers.

Seeing a person moving around the screen provides the illusion of that person being in the same room with you and in front of you. An Online Video Spokesperson automatically raises interest in the site and has the effect of the viewer or browser to want to see more. It’s very effective as an eye-catcher.

Online Video Spokesperson is a marketing tool that gives visitors of a website that much needed person touch that is found lacking in most websites today. Consumers on the web need to feel that the online company they are thinking of giving their business to is sincere and is able to give them the best service they can provide. An Online Video Spokesperson gives that much needed assurance.