Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Java IoT, Weblogic

Java IoT: Article

Navigating The Global Enterprise

Developing a ubiquitous navigation utility

In the five years that I have worked in Web solutions practices, a typical business problem has changed from "we need a new Web site" to "we need to regain control over our existing sites." It's not uncommon for large corporations to have hundreds or even thousands of different Web sites spread over various service lines, geographies, and organizational boundaries. This presents challenges ranging from logistical and technical, to creative, business, and legal. This article focuses on solving the problem of ubiquitous navigation across diverse Webscapes.

In the Beginning There Was the RFP
Let's start with a real-life problem. A global financial services company whose products you probably carry in your wallet identified a need for a ubiquitous navigation utility. They have to manage myriads of intra- and inter-site references spanning nearly 1,000 of their Internet, intranet, extranet, and partner Web sites across the globe. It should maintain the infrastructure of navigation assets, such as familiar top, left, and bottom navigation bars, site maps, navigable taxonomies, features and highlights, inline ads, and cross references, while ensuring that all content is reachable and there are no broken links.

Being a large company, it issued an RFP and received numerous responses, mostly from product vendors, including a Web testing tool and several portal and content management platforms. Unfortunately, none of them would satisfy all the requirements. CMS is able to publish the assets and can do some initial validation, but cannot maintain the validity of links at runtime. Portals don't have that problem, but can only maintain links to their own pages. Site crawlers can detect broken links only after they appear on the sites.

My team was the only services organization that responded to the RFP. To differentiate against stronger competition, we needed to come up with a perfect solution that would satisfy all the requirements, while delivering comparable or better scalability, maintainability, and, ultimately, value. Thus we came up with the idea of a target-centric navigation solution.

Target-Centric Navigation Solution
The only way to ensure that the site never displays a broken link is to validate all the links at the page rendering time, suppressing the ones that point to unavailable resources. The simplest way to do it is to use classes from package java.net as shown in the following code:

public static boolean isBrokenLink(String linkURL)
{
  try
  {
   // Throws MalformedURLException if //invalid syntax
   URL toTest = new URL(linkURL);
   // Throws IOException for some URL //types
   URLConnection c = toTest.openConnection();
   // Throws IOException when site not //found
   c.connect();
   // Throws IOException when page not //found
   c.getContent();
   return false;
  }
  catch (MalformedURLException ex) {}
  catch (IOException ex) {}
  return true;
}

However, a single page can contain dozens even hundreds of links, many of them pointing to dynamic pages, so validating each one using the above method would result in very poor performance. Furthermore, this method will not work at all if the target site intercepts its own 404 errors and redirects them to a not found page. A better solution would be to create a Target Registry containing records about every navigable target, including pages, documents, navigation nodes, and media streams. Every navigation link on the page can then be validated just before rendering with a single query to the registry, ensuring optimum combination of performance and reliability.

Sometimes it is not sufficient to remove a broken link by itself - when it is accompanied by the contextual information, such as text or images, the entire page element should be removed. A good way to implement navigation assets is to assemble them from contentlets, or elementary units of dynamic content presentable on a Web page, as introduced in the article I co-wrote with Alexey Yakubovich about Vitrage framework, "Development of Component-Oriented Web Interfaces" (JDJ, Vol. 10, issue 3). A contentlet has a number of core attributes: Name, Description, Image, and Display Order. Additional attributes, such as Date, Type, and Source, may be represented as needed for a particular problem domain or implementation. All of these attributes are optional. Content Reference is a type of contentlet that points to a specific URL. As shown in Figure 1, there are several concrete types of content references pointing to different types of targets, such as dynamic pages, documents published through CMS, external links, and media streams.

Due to the diversity of possible targets, the target registry can be realized as a single entity or as a logical collection of target-specific registries. PageRegistry would contain the information about all dynamic pages in the system. It usually has to be implemented from scratch; however, it is well worth the effort because it can be used not only to support navigation, but also for search, security, automatic site maps and indices, supporting page life cycles, etc. Document Registry or CMS_Cache usually comes as a part of the Content Management System and does not require any custom implementation. Approved External Links store can be implemented as a part of PageRegistry or on its own, and similarly has uses beyond navigation. Regardless of the implementation details, use of target registries would allow bulk validation of all navigation assets on a page in a single though possibly complex query.

Implementation Considerations
The Links
Content References are flexible enough to implement any navigation assets found on today's Web sites. They have a built-in validation mechanism to prevent rendering of broken links at runtime while maintaining the correct structure of the remaining page. When used in conjunction with a compartment-oriented presentation framework such as Vitrage, which allows bulk loading of all contentlets used on a page in a single database hit, content references have the same or better performance than any other dynamic navigation mechanism.

Navigation compartments can be easily extended to non-Java technologies, such as static, PHP, and even ASP pages. You can define a special type of compartment, which, instead of generating HTML into a ServletResponse, would rewrite a predefined region of an external file.

If you opt to not use compartment-oriented presentation framework, you can still implement a deferred contentlet-based validation through the use of a Response Filter from package javax.servlet. To use this mechanism described in detail in "Adding Internationalization to Business Objects" (WLDJ, June 2005), each contentlet should be rendered surrounded with meta-information tags containing references to the target registries. The response filter then parses ServletResponse, finds all the tags, validates them against the registries, and removes the tags along with invalid content references.

More Stories By Alex Maclinovsky

Alex works at Sun Microsystems as the Engineering Manager for Sun SOA Governance Solution. For nearly two decades he architected and built distributed systems on enterprise, national and global scale. Alex specializes in SOA Infrastructure, Security and Composite Applications. He blogs at http://blogs.sun.com/RealSOA/ and can be contacted at [email protected]

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...