Archive for July, 2008

Ektron: Clarification on User Controls vs API

July 30th, 2008
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We recently spotted an article from Bill Roger’s blog (Ektron‘s CEO) which discusses usage of the Ektron Server Controls v.s. Ektron’s API. At Activo, we are constantly using both approaches and indeed each approach is a bit different and is used in different situations. The article makes it much clearer that Ektron actually put more effort than we thought before into the Server Controls. Understanding that the Server Controls were made for this sort of usage makes us now feel more secure using this method. Previously, I always thought of this method as a hack and preferred the API.

Frank heads our .NET development team and added the following:

I’ve found it easier to start off with a foundation of one of the server controls and build off of that, rather than using only API calls. The server control acts as a “datareader” which can be used to access the data initially. Many of the custom controls we built to replace XSLT use this model:

  • Add a ListSummary inside the user control/page and set its properties.
  • Access the ListSummary’s EkItems property.
  • Manipulate the data from EkItems, transform it, and output it into a repeater.

This tends to work more reliably than using the API calls. However, if the code needs to bypass the permissions model, the only option is to go direct using the API.

.NET Framework, Ektron, Web Development , , , , ,

Flash and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

July 5th, 2008
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Those of you who worked with Activo on SEO projects know that we have always opposed Flash. At Activo we always valued traffic over look & feel which translated into avoiding Flash technology altogether. Well, no more! If it is true that Flash sites can now receive ‘equal’ treatment, then we will give Flash its place in our Web Development practices.

In recent days, both Adobe and Google issued press releases and blog articles how Google’s crawler will be able to read into Shockwave (.swf) files. This means that all text, menus, and content that is embedded in a Flash object file will now be readable by search engines. Adobe published the Showkwave standards so search engines will be able to read it and Google was one of the first to respond and announce that it knows how to read Shokwave contents. What a welcomed change!

What this means is that we will now have additional parameters to take into account, especially in websites that have decided not to work with flash as their main platform but instead offer a small portion of their home page in flash (such as a banner or a rotating main message). Additionally, if this holds true and Google will be able to read into Shokwave (flash) files than we will start seeing more flash based sites coming up in the Organic search results from Google and search engines.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Development , , , , ,

FireFox 3 and Internet Explorer 8 Beta

July 3rd, 2008
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Yes, they are here! FireFox version 3 is now available to download and in a month or two every FireFox installation out there will show a dialog to upgrade to 3. Similarly, Microsoft is planning on releasing their Internet Explorer 8 which is now in Beta 1 mode. Regardless, it definitely seems like FireFox is getting a lot of attention lately and the buzz does come on Internet Explorer’s expense:

Google Trends: FireFox vs Internet Explorer

For us, web developers, it is a mixed blessing. On one hand, we get a better, faster, more reliable browsers. On the other hand, browsers don’t just come into the market and replace old ones instantly, therefore we will now need to test for Internet Explorer (IE) 6, IE7, IE8, FireFox (FF) 2, and FF3. Not mentioning the fact that some browsers like to behave differently on different operating systems which we have to account for as well.

My first impression of FireFox 3 is a positive one. The awesome bar is indeed awesome. Performance wise it does seem to be a bit faster when it comes to AJAX, however I am not sure I notice any difference in general performance. All my necessary plugins released versions that work with FireFox 3 – so I am a happy camper. In our web development work, we did see some sections of sites that work in FF2 and break in FF3 – so be aware that there are some HTML rendering differences.

Now, the question is when will IE8 be ready for us? and what will it bring to the table? Let’s just wait and see…

Web Development , , , , , ,