Welcome!

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

Related Topics: Weblogic

Weblogic: Article

Content Management

Content Management

This article outlines how to build a typical content-based Web application, a threaded message board. In recent years, threaded message boards have gained popularity due to their ability to draw visitors back to a site with the appeal of fresh content. Message boards also make financial sense.

Unlike the costly process by which Web teams create their own content, a threaded message board automates publication and delegates it to site users. Additionally, companies have achieved significant cost reduction in the area of technical support by creating message boards where communities of users can answer one another's support requests.

Since a threaded message board sits atop a database of content, a dynamic or database-driven content management system drastically speeds the creation and operation of such a Web application This article reviews the basics of building a threaded message board on the BEA WebLogic application server and the FatWire UpdateEngine content management system, which is database-driven and compatible with the Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and IBM DB2 databases. With WebLogic, UpdateEngine automates many of the steps involved in creating a threaded message board, such as defining database tables, creating edit screens, and making vendor-specific SQL and workflow calls.

Anatomy of a Threaded Message Board
The basic unit of the threaded message board is the message, or post, which is a short snippet of text with authorship information. Figure 1 shows the main interface of a message board.

Every message belongs to a thread, which is a post about a new topic and its subsequent replies. The left frame of Figure 1 displays the two threads called "New thread" and "Application Accelerators." From this main interface, users can create a new thread, select a thread to view its messages, or reply to a message within a thread. If the users begin a new thread or reply to an existing thread, they are presented with an HTML form to enter the message content.

Building the Dynamic Threaded Message Board Application
Building and running the message board consists of four steps:

  1. Design data structures
  2. Create tables in the database
  3. Program template logic to run the board
  4. Manage content
Design Data Structures
The first step in developing a dynamic Web application is designing the database structures that will hold the content. Surprisingly for a message board, we can get by with only one data structure (content class in UpdateEngine parlance): that of the basic message or post. The messages on this board will contain the fields shown in Table 1.

Create Tables in the Database
In the UpdateEngine GUI, the developer types in field names and selects data types (from the 22 available in a drop-down list). From this point, UpdateEngine's Content Definition wizard creates database tables automatically, eliminating the need to do this programmatically in a database-specific SQL dialect. If new fields need to be added or removed from a table at any stage of the development cycle, this can also be done on the fly. Creating the table definition for this message board takes about 5 minutes with the wizard. Figure 2 shows the wizard interface with the example fields entered.

Program Templates to Run the Message Board
Templates are programs that control the display of the message board and move content into and out of the database. Templates are written in JSP and invoke the UpdateEngine API. This API allows the developer to write high-level Java code to carry out queries, as well as content management and workflow operations, and saves development time by avoiding database-specific SQL or workflow operations. The same templates run on any database compatible with UpdateEngine. Four templates need to be written to power our message board.

Display_Threads
This template runs a database query to get all threads and display them by the order of how recently they were updated. Listing 1 shows a pseudo-code example of how the query could look in the UpdateEngine API. The ordered list can now be displayed as a thread list, and clicking on a thread should call Display_Posts for that thread. Display_Threads should also present the user with the option to create a new thread. Doing so amounts to calling the Create_Post template, passing in information that a new thread (as opposed to a reply) is created.

Display_Posts
Like displaying threads, displaying messages comes down to a simple query. Run a query to get all posts that match a given thread (by checking the POST_PARENT field), and then order them by date authored. An example is shown below:

/*Create a query to find posts whose parent is the current thread,
/*pointed to by dbidCurrentPost */
Query q = new Query(POST_PARENT, Query.EQUALS, dbidCurrentPost);
/*Run the query over all posts. The result is a list of pointers to records */
DBIDList dbidlPost = getDBIDs(POST,q);

This template should also provide an option to reply to the thread. To do this, create a link that calls the Create_Post template, passing in the information that a reply (and not a new thread) should be created.

Create_Post
Create_Post is simply a form that calls Process_Post. If Create_Post is to create a new thread, a subject field should be displayed on the form. If it is being called in order to reply to an existing thread, the subject line should be hidden and its value should be set to that of the referring post with "Re:" as a prefix.

Process_Post
The Process_Post template receives the contents of the form displayed by the Create_Post template, as well as information about what is being created: a new thread, or a reply to an existing thread. In either case, a new message is created in the database and the content fields are instantiated. If the post is the beginning of a new thread, the POST_PARENT field is set to NULL. If it's a reply to an existing thread, the POST_PARENT field is set to point to the initial message in the thread.

Once the database structure is created and the four JSP templates function as desired, the message board is up and running.

Manage Content
No back-end CMS is needed to operate the message board; however, there are occasions where it's desirable to be able to manage board content to remove or edit objectionable posts, to change user names or thread names, or to append editor's notes. Usually, creating a form to edit messages would take additional programming; however, in UpdateEngine forms for entering and viewing content are automatically generated for each database table created by the Content Definition wizard. The automatically generated edit screen for our message board is shown in Figure 3.

To access a data-entry form, first locate the message to edit. Messages may be located from the UpdateEngine browse screen, shown in Figure 4, and they can be sorted on by a number of key fields.

Alternatively, the moderator can access a record using UpdateEngine's search or Power Search tools, which allow Boolean searches over any fields in the database. Once the desired record is identified, it can be checked out (to prevent other moderators from editing it simultaneously) and sent to the edit screen.

If board moderators want to have a higher level of control over what appears on their site, all new messages can be placed into a workflow process instead of being posted live. Workflows are defined using the UpdateEngine GUI. In this example, two stages, "unapproved" and "live," will suffice, but any number of levels of field- and item-level workflow can be created. Using the Java API, the Process_Post template should be modified so it sets the workflow stage to "unapproved," and the display templates should be modified to show messages only in the "live" stage. Now messages will only appear on the board after an authorized moderator has approved them from the UpdateEngine browse screen.

Conclusion
Developing content-rich Web applications without manually programming database tables, edit screens, and workflow processes saves time. Database-specific SQL commands and workflow operations are passed over in favor of interaction with a GUI and a vendor-neutral Java API. With WebLogic and UpdateEngine, a developer can extend the simple message board described here by adding and redefining database tables in order to create a threaded message board as complex as any found on the Web.

More Stories By Daniel Goldstein

Daniel Goldstein, PhD, director of
developer marketing for FatWire Corporation, has held visiting scholar positions at Stanford University and Harvard University. Daniel's Internet background includes development work for America Online and Rolling Stone.

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
"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.
"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.
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...
"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...
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.
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.
"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.
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 ...
"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...
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...
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 ...
"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.
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...
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...
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...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...