Technology

  • Mark-up Extensions
  • Server-side State Management
  • Spider Detection
  • Browser & Feature Detection
  • Web-Database Integration
  • Client-driven Site Updates
  • Timely Data Exchange

Limitless has developed a variety of technologies in response to the needs of our clients.

Mark-up Extensions

In order to support highly-dynamic web pages, particularly pages which contain information derived on the fly from databases, Limitless have developed a number of server-side extensions to standard HTML which are evaluated as each page is sent to the end-user. These include the ability to embed standard SQL into web pages, and to automatically use the results of database queries to format and structure web pages. In addition, local variables, conditional tests and looping constructs have been added to HTML to allow almost unlimited flexibility in the design and layout of web pages. These extensions are completely SGML-compliant, to minimise their impact on existing HTML development tools.

Our reasons for choosing to extend HTML, rather than to use existing techniques for generating web pages on the fly, stem from our extensive knowledge of the psychology of programming, which leads us to believe that extensions to web pages should be a mark-up problem, not a programming problem. Our extensions (called LML – Limitless Mark-up Language) allow a web author to exploit the power of database technology without the need to learn how to generate HTML from a program, which is a significant task to achieve correctly for any non-trivial project.

Server-side State Management

Most useful web sites, (those that go beyond being a simple shop-window), need to keep track of information about the user as they move around the site. Limitless’ extensive experience with sites such as Sainsbury’s Wine Direct and Berry Bros. has helped us develop reliable and robust systems to meet the needs of both the retailer and the customer which do not place confusing limits on what the end-user can do within the site – such as being unable to use the ‘Back’ key. (We have even seen sites which allow the end-user to tinker with the prices of products!)

Spider Detection

Spiders, programs that read web sites automatically, are in widespread use on the Internet and can account for a significant portion of the traffic to any given web site. Limitless believe in tracking these spiders and reporting on their activity – we can also remove their presence from web site access logs to give a true picture of user activity on a web site.

Browser & Feature Detection

There is a broad range of capability among browsers, with some not supporting frames, certain HTML extensions, or graphics. Web sites that are tailored to specific browsers only address a percentage of web users, arbitrarily depriving the remainder of the experience that the web site authors would expect. At worst, a web site may be totally unusable by millions of potential visitors because of presumptions about the end-user’s browser. Limitless’ browser detection system effectively eliminates this very real problem by allowing different pages to be sent out to end-users, each optimised for the different browser that they use. The volatility of the browser market, Netscape vs. Microsoft, means that no site should be browser-specific. In addition, Limitless’ extensions to HTML enable the selective detection and handling of specific browsers features (such as frames) directly within web pages.

Some sites make browser detection the users’ problem by offering an alternative at the home page. Limitless believe that the user shouldn’t need to know that a choice is required, nor that such a choice is only possible at one place in the site.

Web-Database Integration

In order to support database access from web pages with high performance, Limitless have developed intermediate-level software that maintains connections to databases, and that interacts with the web-page generation system through the extremely high-speed channel of shared memory. This system completely eliminates various overheads of database use, such as connection and disconnection. At the moment, this system integrates Oracle and Apache, but is relatively easy to migrate to other production-quality databases and web servers.

Client-driven Site Updates

In order to allow clients to maintain editorial control over their own sites in a controlled fashion, Limitless have developed a two-tier system of web site updating which allows clients to use their own choice of tools for authoring pages, while ensuring that updates to sites are done in a controlled and authorised fashion.

Timely Data Exchange

We have developed technology which allows the timely transmission of data across the Internet for certain applications where the data rapidly decays in value, avoiding the delays associated with normal TCP connections. This development included the integration of Windows clients with remote Unix-based servers.

For information on how we can apply these or other technologies to your specific problems, contact us via our form or call us.

BBR Web Site

Wines of Germany Web Site

Wine-Searcher Web Site

 
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