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Dynamic Web Sites with Topic Maps and XSLT

Web site content is controlled by Topic Map
Web site site map is controlled by Topic Map
Web site resources are controlled by Topic Map
Web site layout is controlled by XSLT
Web site style is controlled by XSLT

by Nikita Ogievetsky, Cogitech, Inc.
nogievet@cogx.com
©Cogitech, Inc.



History

XWATL framework was originally presented in August 1999
Building Web sites with XSLT and Topic Maps was originally presented in January 2000



Topic Map and HTML

  • Topic Map offers powerful ways of describing universe of interconnected resources- “the GPS of the information universe”.
  • HTML offers an excellent way to deliver browsable information via the Web.
Conclusion:
  • Perfect match!



Topic Map as the maintained source code of a website

Offers
  • Convenience
  • Power
  • Reliability
  • Rapid reconfigurability
Who benefits?
  • Maintainers of large, complex websites, e-commerce integrators.



Approaches

Alternative Approaches:
  • SAX or DOM based Servlets, COM objects, ASP, JSP, Perl or Python CGI.
We selected:
  • XSLT transformations.



Topic Map and XSLT for the WEB

Advantages:
  • Platform and software independence.
  • XSLT encapsulation mechanisms (XWATL)
  • Ease, simplicity and beauty
  • Write once render anywhere
  • Facilitate structuring information
  • Consistent look and feel throughout entire web sites



Work process (if you adopt the framework)

It is Impossible to ...
  • Break consistency
  • Break link integrity
Developers can concentrate on ...
  • Delivering content
  • Aggregation and syndication mechanisms
  • Styling and page design



Structural Components

Three Axes:
  • Topic Map
  • XSLT Stylesheets
  • WWW Universe of resources referenced by occurrence locators



XWATL Framework

XSLT stylesheets are divided into functionally independent layers.
Build reusable stylesheets for:
  • Metadata extraction
  • Web page layout blocks
  • Components styling and rendering



Topic Map Components




Topic Link Element




Topic Link Visualization

Topic Links :
  • Every topic link is rendered as a separate web page (WML card)
  • There is no more then one page for any topic
Topic Characteristics :
  • Source for web page content and traversal metadata



Added themes




Added theme role in our Framework

Added themes constraint of our framework:
  • Only one added theme is allowed for the Web Site
  • At least one added theme is required and it is the subject of the website
  • Topic link referenced by the added theme must exist in the Topic Map.
Web page generated for added theme topic becomes default or main page of the generated web site.
When topic map based web sites are merged:
  • added theme web page serves as the entry point to the original web site



Topic Names




Topic Names Visualization

  • Web page titles (dispname)
  • Sub-titles (dispname)
  • Ordered lists (sortname)
  • Button captions (basename, dispname)
  • Hyperlinks (basename, dispname)
  • Natural Language Generation (basename, dispname, sortname)
Names of system topics - SuperTypes and scopes play special role in NLG



Topic Occurrence Role




Occurrence Role Visualization

  • Images: logos, portraits, illustrations in portrait orientation, illustrations in landscape orientation
  • HTML and text fragments (embed)
  • URI to be redirected to (replace)
  • Client and Server side objects
  • XPath expressions aggregating content from external documents
  • SQL Queries
  • Just hyperlinks (no traverse)
Occurrence role types are used by XSLT to choose rendition for referenced resources and derive links behavior.



Topic Associations




Topic Associations Visualization and Utilization

  • Govern sitemap of the web site
  • Aggregate sub-topics content in the case of in-line association role types
  • Supply metadata for Natural Language Generation (System Associations)
  • Allow recursive references and subject reuse
  • Allow to maintain metadata in an extremely structured and intuitive way



Association Role




Association Role Visualization

  • Buttons
  • Image Maps
  • Simple hyperlinks
  • NLG generated text blocks with embedded links.
  • Web page sub sections when type of association role is in-line



Topic Linking

Topic map form a deeply inter-linked universe of topics associated
Directly by means of ...
  • associations and association roles
Indirectly by means of ...
  • scopes (occurrence roles, associations, topic names)
  • types (occurrence roles, associations, association roles, topic links)
  • facets



Scopes affiliation




SuperType affiliation




Mapping Topic Map elements for HTML rendition

Topic MapWeb Site TopicWeb PageTopic AssociationsSite map. Occurrences Images, Logo Text HTML fragments External Links Topic Names, SuperTopic (system) Names Page Headers, Titles UL lists Hyperlinks titles Natural Language Generation NLG Topic (system) Templates Natural Language Generation



Examples

  • 2 Topic Map documents
    • Garden Center
    • Intellectual Property Law Office
  • 2 XSLT Stylesheets



Planning and Design Topic Map fragment:




Planning and Design Topic with Stylesheet 1:

  • Logo occurrence of the root topic.
  • Display name of current topic.
  • Buttons with captions formed by display names of topics playing role of sub-services in association with current topic.
  • Occurrence in HTML fragment.
  • Occurrences in illustration images.
  • Hyperlinks with captions formed by display names of topics playing role of sub-services in association with the root topic



Planning and Design Topic with Stylesheet 2:

  • Display name of current topic.
  • Logo occurrence of the root topic.
  • Occurrence in HTML fragment.
  • Occurrences in illustration images.
  • NLG text formed by display names of current topic, system topic (Services) and topics playing role of sub-services in association with current topic.
  • NLG text formed by display names of topics participating in association where current topic plays role of a sub-service: current topic, containing topic, sibling sub-services and system topics (Services).
  • Hyperlinks with captions formed by display names of topics playing role of sub-services in association with root topic



Trademark Topic with Stylesheet 1:

  • Logo occurrence of the root topic.
  • Display name of current topic.
  • NLG text formed by display names of current topic, system topic (Services) and topics playing role of sub-services in association with current topic.
  • NLG text formed by display names of topics participating in one association where current topic plays role of a sub-service: current topic, containing topic, sibling sub-services and system topics (Services, Item).
  • NLG text formed by display names of topics participating in second association where current topic plays role of a sub-service: current topic, containing topic, sibling sub-services and system topics (Services, Item).
  • Hyperlinks with captions formed by display names of topics playing role of sub-services in association with root topic.



Conclusions

Building dynamic Web Sites with Topic Maps and XSLT framework offers convenience, power, reliability, and rapid reconfigurability to web architects, developers and integrators.
  • There is only one Topic Map document whatsoever that contains and controls content and structure of the whole website.
  • Facilitated management of the sitemap and metadata.
  • Easily merge-able with other topic map based web sites.
  • HTML offers an excellent way to browse Topic Maps via the Web.
  • Expedited maintenance of graphics, html fragments and other external resources.
  • Elegant solutions for Natural Language Generation.
  • Facilitated presentation and style maintenance : stylesheets can be shared by different web sites.
  • XSLT rendering and thus: write once render anywhere.





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