Monday, February 20, 2006

Dynamic Web Sites Necessary to Stay Competitive

It was not that long ago that becoming a web page authoring wizard required little more than an understanding of a few dozen Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) tags, and perhaps modest experience with a scanner and a graphics program to generate a corporate logo image file.

The stakes are much higher now. The hobby phase is over. The Internet is a big business. Competition for visitor “hits” is enormous, as it becomes more and more difficult to get your site noticed, much less bookmarked. Sensing that the authoring world wanted more out of HTML then a poor imitation of the printed page, the web browser makers and Internet standards bodies have been expending the capabilities of web pages at a feverish pace. These changes are allowing us to make our pages more “dynamic” – pages that can “think and do” on their own, without much help from the server once they have been loaded in the browser.

In websites, the most important thing that a user, editor or author looks for is the robustness and the maintainability of the site. In static approach for web page authoring, you simply write a different page for all the content in your site and connect these pages with hyperlinks or most probably by using a navigation bar in the main page. It seems like a simple and manageable idea. However, when it comes to add new content or change the general layout of the site, it is almost impossible for you to go through each and every page and edit the code. In the dynamic approach, you use a database as the foundation of your web site. What you put in this database totally depends on what you need to have for your pages; usernames and associated passwords, articles that you are going to use as your content, pictures, files, basically anything that you can think of. This database can be thought as your storage for the elements to build this site. However, it is not you who is building the pages, it is the PHP, ASP, PERL code that you have written or purchased. The only thing that is left for you is to draw a “plan” for the data driven code so that it knows where to put the building elements that are stored in your database. This plan is called the template for the site which is generally created using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and Dynamic HTML (DHTML). Once the site is loaded into the browser, dynamic pages in a way “interacts” with the user and generates the HTML pages rather than taking the user from page to page with the help of the hyperlinks.

As one can see very easily, Dynamic Websites seem like the future of the Internet. It saves a lot of time and effort for the authors and also the user from frustration of waiting for the pages to load while visiting a simple site with an interesting article with a lot of pages.