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Reload this page Building Websites - The Options

This page uses modern project management strategies and toolsanother page on this site to present the options for strategies and tools during various phases of a web system development project.


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Set screen Introduction


Possible Worlds Ascending by John Mccormick

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Set screen Phase 1. Conceptualization (Inception)


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Set screen I. Executive Requirements (Authority and Responsibilities)

  1. Who will be responsible for the site? Who will make the decisions? (Whether it's worth it, etc.)

    • Under corporate board governance?
    • Under management discretion?

  2. How will the decisions about this site be made?

    • Face-to-face meeting, phonemail, email?
    • Signatures on paper or just verbal agreements?

  3. What issues of concern does this project address?

    • Public relations (image, political correctness)
    • Competitive stance
    • Regulatory compliance
    • Environmental friendliness

  4. Who are the stakeholders?

  5. How does this project fit in (the dependencies and relative priorities) among other corporate goals and initiatives?

  6. When is it needed?

    • Immediately for life-threatening issues.
    • At a designated date (e.g., next Christmas, Super Bowl, etc.).

  7. What is the budget? How much can it cost in time, dollars, equipment, space, hassle, etc.?
tool RFP Templates by Keith Custer gives a thorough way to prepare requirements by providing pre-worded requirement items in MS-Word and MS-Excel, which provide a column to identify the source, business rule, Priority, and Technical Complexity of each requirement item.

Idea I think it's wise to put out initial estimates. I think it's better to discuss money up front with rough figures than wait until all basis of estimating are in before shocking a client with a big number. Some firms quote different packages to let customers choose the rough amount of scope.

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Set screen II. Business Benefits and Goals (What's the pay-back to investors):

    • Time/Schedule:
      • Quicker Decision Making time
      • Quicker Turnaround time: Instant access to information
      • Quicker Timliness to market
      • Increase user efficiency
    • Quality (Image and Capability):
      • Improved Employee Development
      • Better People: Widely attract people
      • Better Employee Morale: Common base of information
      • Attract better people
      • Higher Customer Satisfaction
      • Increase Repeat Business
      • Create a more synergistic corporate presence
    • Money Profit from Lowering Costs:
      • Higher Productivity (Do More With Less)
      • Lower Marketing Costs
      • Simplify administration time/complexity
    • Money Profit from Increasing Sales/Income:
      • Larger Capacity to handle more volume of work
      • Participate in customer Market growth
      • Bigger Market Share
      • Support new revenue streams


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Set screen III. Implementation Requirements

    External Stakeholders

    • Public consumers
    • Interest groups
    • Government
    • Competitors
    • Partners
    • Supporters/Fans/Donors

    Internal Stakeholders

    • Investor Relations
    • Legal
    • Sales
    • Advertising
    • Marketing
    • Operations
    • MIS
    • Manufacturing
    • Finance
    • Human Resources
    • Facilities (Physical Security)


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Set screen IV. Customer Functionality Requirements -- What it has to accomplish for consumers/users:

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Set screen V. Requirements for Hardware and Software Tools

  • Operating System
  • Hosting
  • Web Servers
  • Content
  • Interactivity
  • Personalization
    CyberSpeaker Philippa Gamse is an e-business and internet guru of e-commerce strategy and marketing providing keynotes, workshops, and consulting.

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      Set screen 1.E. Requirements for Hardware and Software Tools:
      Options for Web Server Operating System Software

      • Microsoft Windows NT/2000 (featuring unified login under NTFS)
      • UNIX systems -- usually have file permissions specific to the UFS and NFS types of file systems.
        • Sun Solaris
        • FreeBSD (Berkeley Standard Distribution)
        • Linux
          • SuSe (has international versions)
          • Red Hat
          • Caldera
        • The new AS/400 V4R2 kernel has been optimized for Java Virtual Machine.
      • The Apple Event model on the Apple Macintosh OS enables applications to easily share data.


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      Set screen 1.E. Requirements for Hardware and Software Tools:
      Options for Hosting Web Sites

        If you are an individual, consider the free sites offered with ISP dial-up accounts:
        • Earthlink in their 6MB space with every account, does not allow access to browsers before NN4 and IE4)
        • Mindspring was purchased by Earthlink in Oct. 99.
        • provides 3MB and filters sites at the server.
        • Prodigy from IBM, GTE, and Sears.
        • I don't recommend AOL 5MB

      • For those who already have an ISP dial-up account:
        Free sites (which typically put an advertising banner over your pages):
        • Tripod seems the fastest and most friendly.
        • Geocities (now owned by Yahoo) imposes a pop-up that obscures the upper-left corner of your webpages. If you use them, allow for this in your page design.
        • Virtual Avenue - full FP2K support as well as CGI script capabilities - 50MB storage.
        • Bizland - full FP2K support as well as ecommerce enabled store fronts that you can configure.
        • Web Provider - can be a bit hard to use at times, but once you get used to it....
        • gives FREE 10 meg space with ASP and FP extension with a mailbox.
        • 7Host offers 50 meg space with ASP and FTP.

      • Commercial IPP's (Internet Presence Providers):
        • CNet for $8.95 per month.
        • Pacificnet for no-dialup hosting.
        • World Wide Marketing offers Aptivity Java database support.
        • Innerhost offers ASP preinstalled components on their server as an added bonus for $22.95 per month, with the $45 setup fee waived if you sign up for six months in advance.
        • NTWebHosting charges $15 per month.

      • Co-hosted and Mirrored sites
        • Akamai has server farms throughout the world so they can direct visitors to the closest site.
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    Totals for Active Servers Across All Domains
    Netcraft's survey

      This is despite the Mindcraft benchmark controversy which claims that Windows NT4 outperfoms Linux. See Benchmarks

      Web server software include:

      • Microsoft's Site Server and Microsoft Site Server Commerce Edition:
      • Sun's iPlanet, which includes Netscape-Enterprise, Netscape-FastTrack, Netscape-Commerce, Netscape-Communications, Netsite-Commerce & Netsite-Communications.

        Netscape's LiveWire uses JavaScript which closely integrates with the HTML pages rather than CGI to create server-based applications.

      • CERN for UNIX -- the first web server.
      • NCSA

      • Allaire's Cold Fusion -- which processes Colf Fusion Markup Language (CFML).
      • O'Reilly WebSite Pro for Windows NT supports ASP, but not ISAPI filters.
      • Omnicron
      • Linux
      • Novell Web Server
      • Netscape Enterprise Server
      • IBM/Lotus Domino Server
      • (Quarterdeck's) StarNine WebStar for the Macintosh

      Web services:

    • Yodlee and Enfish aggregate user information from several websites into one screen.
    • Personal portals Sharepoint and K-Station.

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      Set screen 1.E. Requirements for Hardware and Software Tools:
      Options for Creating Web Content

        Webmasters need not learn cumbersome HTML coding.
        • Microsoft Office 98 applications read files on the web as if they they were on another hard disk. Microsoft Word can read HTML files and allows existing Word files to be saved as HTML pages. Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations can also be saved as HTML and gif files.
        • Claris creates web pages from Filemaker Pro 4 databases.
        • Adobe's PageFrame creates web pages from Pagemaker files.

      • Many of the early web page creation programs made the creation interpreted JavaScript commands easier. Features include the placement of include statements which causes repetitive code to be generated. SOftware include:
        • SoftQuad's HotMeTL
        • Allaire's HomeSite can make mass changes to all files at once, such as changing the names of image directories, adding width and height numbers to images, etc.
        • Net Objects Fusion also has a style sheet feature which reformats all your pages when you make a change to a common template.
        • Microsoft's Front Page provides Web Bots to perform custom logic.

          One limitation with this approach is the dependence on having HTML code generated by an often inflexible program. This often does not result in "exactly" the look desired. HTML code created this way is often difficult to read. (Although code reformatters such as FormatHTML can be helpful).

        • AppleScript (with flavors from Userland Software's Frontier and MacPerl)

      • For maximum flexibility, speed, and security, many programmers prefer a compiled programming language.
        • Perl is by far the most popular language used to create CGI scripts because it is a general-purpose scripting language for the UNIX platform, able to do the work of UNIX shell scripts and text-processing utilities such as sed, awk. Perl 5 is extendable -- able to create and add modules which extend the language with new object-oriented features.
        • Microsoft offers its Visual Studio suite which produces in-process dll's.
        • PHP
        • TCL (pronounced “tickle”)
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      Set screen 1.E. Requirements for Hardware and Software Tools:
      Options for Providing Interactivity

        There are several ways to add more interactivity for users visiting web pages:
        • Provide forms for users to fill out. Most "free" websites help you send form input as email to webmasters.
        • Use animated graphics by creating/using graphic files which show variations of similar graphics quickly in succession (but not in reaction to something a unique computer user does).
        • Code JavaScript which only runs on the user's browser (on the "client" side).
        • Add "server-side" code for processing by web servers using

        • Java applets

        • Provide streaming sound and video in a continuous flow using the following products:


    On the Microsoft platform, (such as "htm" or "exe") provide a handle for Windows to determine what to do with that file.

    File extensions

    Macromedia's Dreamweaver and Dreamweaver Ultradev ioLib Flash Development Kit

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      Set screen 1.E. Requirements for Hardware and Software Tools:
      Options for Providing Personalization

      People don't want clutter.

      Custom-construct web pages tailtors to the needs and desires of each user:

      • Offer related topics based on prior selections.
      • Make offers related to user decisions, such as selections and items purchased.
      • Send follow-up emails with additional information related to user selections.

      The program file editor is a personal preference of programmers:

      Single Sign-On is the capability to TRANSPARENTLY AUTHENTICATE and AUTHORIZE users across the business value chain. SecureID. Microsoft's Passport. Sun's Liberty Alliance. Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML).


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    Set screen VI. Infrastructure Support Requirements

      Service Levels

      These different levels of service are detailed in Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

      Service Level NameAcceptable
      Lengths of
      Infrastructure and Services

      “No Promises”

      x days All service off-line during maintenance
    • Weekly Backups to tape and restore from tape
    • Power strips
    • “Reliable”

      x hours All service off-line during maintenance
    • Security: Single Firewall
    • Daily Backups to tape and restore from tape, which may result in data loss of up to a day
    • Power: UPS for smooth shutdowns only
    • “Resilient”

      x minutes Services mostly on-line during maintenance
    • Backups from/restore to redundant drives
    • Security: Multiple DNS servers and Firewalls with a DMZ
    • Power: UPS on batteries available for 4 or more hours
    • “Highly Available”

      x seconds Service on-line during maintenance
    • RAID drives for instant failover
    • Database restored from Transaction Logs
    • Continual System Integrity Checking
    • Multiple network carriers for redundancy
    • Power: Independent generators for smooth load transfers
    • Co-located servers distributed (via Akami)
    • “Always On”

      none Redundant Everything:
    • Constant intrusion detection checking
    • Clustered Servers for all sites
    • Geographically dispersed data centers remotely controlled

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      Set screen Operational Questions and Answers

    • How will the webmaster FTP files into their server? They need an IP address (such as, a user name, and password.
    • Automatic Redirection from prior ISP
    • Conversion of existing or historical data to HTML
    • Need for user "hand holding" on installation and use of hardware and browsers
    • Capturing, Storing, Charting, and Analyzing number of hits (pings)
    • Transfer of Guest Registration Data
    • Transfer of Passwords
    • Transfer of ping accounting logs (from Webtrends, etc.)
    • Management of Cookies on clients
    • Tracing User's Footsteps through the site
    • Stability. One thing that CGI executables do have in their favor is that they are more stable then ISAPI applications. In fact, they are not more stable, but they give the appearance of being more stable. This is true because of one single fact, if your CGI executable has a general protection fault, or crashes for some other reason, only one user is effected. This is because the general protection only effects the process that it is running in. General protection faults in ISAPI applications effect the process they are running in also, except they are running in the application process that the web server is running. ISAPI applications that crash usually crash the server also. The difference here is that ISAPI application crashes effect all the users that are currently on web site and usually all the users that follow the crash, while CGI executable crashes only effect that user.
    • ISAPI process isolation with the Web Application Manager (WAM) on a separate name space. For each application namespace that is configured, there is a separate instance of the WAM. Think of the WAM as an executable that can load your ISAPI DLLs and direct requests from the IIS server to those calls. Since the WAM is an executable, it has it's own process space that is outside of the Internet Information Server. Each application namespace and the DLLs that are running within that application namespace are running in their own process space. The WAM, once started, does not close and restart for each request. It remains open to handle other requests. Once an instance of the WAM loads an ISAPI DLL, the DLL remains loaded so that it can handle other requests.
    • Because there might be two open instances of a DLL, the programmer must make sure not to lock resources like files or shared memory from within the ISAPI application.


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    Align at top of frame Phase 2. Design (Elaboration)

      This plan is based on modern approaches to computer systems development: Microsoft's Solutions Framework and the Rational Unified Process, both developed for Object Oriented design. They are similar to the Muench model where requirements documents are successively refined as they are converted into design documents, which are also iteratively refined into more glandular (more detailed) specifications.

    1. Flowchart of Components (Site Map)

      • Referrals from prior URL's
      • Home Page / Welcome
      • Table of Contents hierarical outline

    2. Methods of Navigation (how to get around)

      • Frames
      • No Frames notice and routing
      • Browser "Back" button
      • Hot Link names (underlined items)
      • Graphic buttons (Home, Site Index, Previous, Next, Contact Us, etc.)
      • List box selection and "Go"
      • Tabs

    3. Visual Appeal (Color, position, bells & whistles)

      • Page Titles (always begin with the same ?)
      • Background colors and graphics.
      • Frame sizes
      • Border sizes
      • Graphics
      • Horizontal & Vertical Rules
      • Tabs and layers
      • Heading Titles
      • Text fonts
      • Links and Visited Links
      • Display graphics (pictures)
      • List Bullet types
      • New and Hot flags
      • Under Construction flags
      • Last Update Date and Copyright notices
      • Pop-up windows
      • Banner (rotation ?)
      • Random images

    4. Use Cases

      • Correct (Positive) Test Cases
        • Default home page
        • First level pages (choices from the "main menu")
        • Second level pages (choices from "sub-menus")
        • Background automatic processing (if applicable)
      • Incorrect (Negative/Error detection and handling) Test Cases
      • Help
      • Linguistic/Transalation Test Cases

    5. Milestone: Style Book Approval

    6. Milestone: Prototype Funding

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    Align at top of frame Phase 3. Development (Construction)

    1. Development Processes

      Prototypes accelerate the refinement of several aspects of an application product:

      • User Interface (the look and feel of menus, data entry screens, etc. seen by users)
      • Function development (the application flow)
      • Machine performance evaluation
      • application development (the back-end database schema and reports)

      Software Confirguration Management Utilities

    2. FTP site directory and passwords created __/__/__

    3. Coding of initial html files and links (based on prior systems)

    4. Developer Self-Tests (Unit Tests)

    5. Beta User Demonstrations and Revisions

      • Test Criteria (to meet Policies)
        • Visual Appeal (see above)
        • Links live & appropriate to topic
        • Performance
          • Speed -- System and User time
          • Memory consumption
          • Physical disk usage

      • For each version of Browsers
        • Netscape Navigator 7.0 (Mozilla and Firefox)
        • Netscape Navigator 3.0, 4.0, 5, 6
        • AOL 2.0 (no frames)
        • AOL 3.0 for Windows 3.x
        • AOL 3.0 for Windows 95
        • AOL 4.0 for Windows 95
        • AOL 5.0 for Windows 2000
        • AOL 6.0 for Windows XP
        • Microsoft Internet Explorer 2.0, 3, 4.0, 4.01 SP1 - SP5, 6, (XP SP2)
        • WebTV
        • etc.'s eData Mining service tracks the market share of browsers

      • Browser plug-in compatibility testing:
        • Real Audio (4, G2)
        • Apple
        • Microsoft Media Player
        • Macromedia Shockwave

        • Third voice
        • etc.

        Webreview article: Leo Spiegel of Sandpiper on Scaling to Meet Special Event Traffic

    6. Usability Tests and Revisions

      • Performance Stress Test

        Functionality tested:

      • Database Look-ups
      • Database Adds
      • Database UnAdds
      • Database Changes
      • Database Undos
      • Database Deletes
      • Database UnDeletes
      • Database Reorganization
      • Database Physical List
      • Database Single Keyed Reports
      • Database Multiple Keyed Reports
      • Database Foreign Key Reports
      • HTML Table Sort

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      Generate nicely formatted html files to list files within a directory with this flexible freeware

      Generate nicely formatted playlist html files of mp3 files in a directory

    7. Final Support Plan

    8. Clean-Up (Check for orphaned components, etc.)

    9. Milestone: Funding approval for Launch

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    Align at top of frame Phase 4. Launch (Transition)

    1. Acquire and Test Training and Support Capabilities

    2. Internal Announcement/Promotion

    3. User Training

      • Course developers
      • Learning Objectives
      • Course Design
      • Product Documentation
      • Curriculum Materials
      • Training facilities
      • Instructors
      • Training logistics (scheduling, room reservations, evaluations, etc.)
      • Phone Support

    4. External Announcement/Publicity

      • Getting noticed by web crawlers (keywords in META tags)
        • Submit-It.
      • Cooperative advertising such as from

    5. Implementation Review (Budget vs. Actual, Traffic Stats, Lessons Learned, Extensions)

    6. Upgrading (next cycle of phases)

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