Data-Centric Web Application Framework
Jan Pazdziora, Brno, September 2003
Existing styles of the development of Web-based systems use procedural languages or template-based techniques where the output is being made up from textual pieces of the target markup. These approaches not only lead to nonvalid HTML pages easily, moreover, output markup in the code of individual applications prevents reusability of the code and makes maintenance and further development more complicated.
Therefore, in large systems, true separation of the content and the presentation part is needed. Data structure description format is proposed as a core tool for serialization of application output in native data structures to intermediary data layer in XML, validation of input parameters and output data, development of test suites, and communication among the members of the development team. Data output becomes independent on the intended presentation and can be postprocessed into any target format, while applications no longer contain mixtures of syntaxes that distract developers and make the source code error-prone. Applications become multilingual, as no language-specific code needs to be present and localization of both data sources and presentation stylesheets is moved from run-time to off-line definition. With increasing numbers of user agents, the presentation postprocessing of the data can be shifted to the client side, saving processing power of the server and increasing throughtput. Above all, long-term maintainability of Web applications is achieved by stripping them of volatile dependency on the presentation markups.