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Tools & Technologies

To assure quality service and delivery, ByYourSite specializes in a selection of tools and technologies that are best suited for efficient and cost-effective web application development. Because we use industry-standard tools and technologies we can very quickly integrate into our clients' existing development efforts. The code that we produce will remain usable for years, and can easily be customized to satisfy your changing needs.

In this page we give a brief description of the following tools and technologies* used by ByYourSite:

Tools and technologies used by ByYourSite
Access HomeSite Photoshop
Active Server Pages InterDev SQL
ArcIMS Java SQL Server
DHTML JavaScript VBScript
Dreamweaver JavaServer Pages Visual Basic
Fireworks Linux, Apache Visual Source Safe
Front Page MapGuide Windows, IIS
HTML Other Graphic and
Layout software

Our description is divided in six sections. We start with server-related technologies followed by other programing languages. We then describe authoring tools, web GIS tools, databases, and finally image editing and page layout tools.


We will distinguish two types of servers: web servers and application servers. Web servers are programs that run on top of the operating system and are designed to respond to Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) requests and to return HTML pages to the browsers. We will present two web servers: the Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) and the Open Source Apache web server from the Apache software foundation. Application servers are technologies that run in conjunction with a web server. Application servers allow us to add interactivity and "intelligence" to regular web sites.

Application servers are often add-ons to web servers that allow the developer to write logic written with a server side scripting language. A group of scripts working together to perform a specific task is called a web application. The application interacts with the the user via the web server that sends regular HTML pages which the application generates on the fly.

Scripts that run on the server rather than on the client (the browser) offer flexibility and added security. Web applications add flexibility as they are shielded from the browsers' limitations. For instance, web applications can deliver a web page specifically catered to different web browsers. If a user is using Netscape, the HTML she will receive from the application might be very different than the one she will receive if she uses Internet Explorer. Server-side scripts add security, as the script on the server remains invisible to the user. The user sees only the HTML that is the output of the script running on the server. In this model things such as passwords, and intellectual properties are protected from the preying eye.

ByYourSite specializes in using two server-side scripting technologies: Active Server Pages, and Java Server Pages.


Apache is the leading web server. Apache can run on, among others, Windows, UNIX, Linux, Macintosh operating systems.

Most applications developed on Apache use either the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) combined with Perl for scripting, or use a JSP application server.

Like most UNIX friendly environments, Apache administration is mostly done through the command line interface.

ByYourSite is actively working at extending its currently limited experience with the Linux and Apache platforms.

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Internet Information Server (IIS)

Internet Information Server is bundled with Windows servers. Active Server Page (ASP) is the default web application technology on IIS, but it's possible to use any other application server such as JRun or ColdFusion.

IIS is more than just an HTTP server. It includes a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server, a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) server, and a Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) server.

The administration of IIS is greatly simplified by the Internet service manager. Most of the operations can be done through the graphical user interface and will feel familiar to a Windows administrator.

As with any web server, it's very important to make sure that the latest patches are installed on IIS. Microsoft is regularly releasing these patches to fix security breaches that are discovered on the server. You can find the latest update at:

ByYourSite has extensive experience in IIS administration in single-server environments.

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Active Server Pages (ASP)

Active Server Pages (ASP) is Microsoft's solution for server side scripting, and is mostly used on Windows platforms. It is the default environment for Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) that comes bundled with Windows Servers. However, it's worth noting that ASP 2.0 is ported to the UNIX/Linux platforms by ChiliSoft.

ASP is very popular among businesses as it comes bundled with Windows Servers. As many companies have these servers already installed on their networks, they don't initially need to invest in extra pieces of software and expertise to develop their Internet presence.

ASP is very popular among developers because it is relatively easy to learn. The default scripting language used is VBScript (a subset of Microsoft's Visual Basic), but ASP is designed to be language-neutral. It can also handle JScript (Microsoft's version of JavaScript, ECMA 262 language specification), Perl, REXX, and Python. It also integrates very nicely with all other Microsoft technologies, such as Microsoft SQLServer, COM, and Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS).

Most of ASP's drawbacks come from its strength. Because it is so permissive, it's very easy for a developer to create sloppy code that will ultimately become expensive to maintain.

Asp's affinity for Microsoft's Servers has some doubting its capacity to serve high-volume sites. However, every day, new high-volume sites such as Dell and Lycos are choosing to use ASP. Also, with the release of Windows 2000 the platform gained a lot of stability.

Our main source of technical information for ASP is the MSDN library and the book Professional Active Server Pages 3.0 by Alex Homer et al. (Wrox).

Active Server Pages are ByYourSite's core expertise.

You can find more information about ASP by visiting Microsoft's web page or by following the links on our links page.

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JavaServer Pages (JSP)

JavaServer Pages (JSP) is Sun Microsytems' answer to Microsoft's ASP. JSP is especially good at separating User Interface (UI) layer from the data layer. This separation allows you to alter the UI without the risk of affecting the underlying logic. Since the application logic can reside in components, it facilitates code reuse and component base design. This approach makes it faster and easier to build web-based applications.

JSP is part of the Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE). When supported by the application server, J2EE brings enterprise level power to JSP web applications. To learn more about J2EE you can go to Sun's web site.

JSP relies on a technology (Java Servlet) that is platform independent. An application (or a module) that is developed on a Microsoft platform will run as well on UNIX or other platforms. Among the application servers that use JSP as the scripting environment are the Open Source Tomcat, Allaire/Macromedia's JRun, IBM's WebSphere and Bea's WebLogic.

JSP's weakness lies more in its development environment. We haven't yet met a good Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and many tasks are still better done through the command line interface.

ByYourSite is actively prospecting for opportunities to gain more experience with JSP. Please contact us or click here to learn more about our special offer.

Read more about JSP by going to Sun's web site or by following links on our links page.

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Programming Languages

In this section we will discuss general purpose programming languages such as Visual Basic and Java, scripting languages such as VBScript and JavaScript, markup languages such as HTML and XML, and usage-specific languages such as SQL.

Visual Basic (VB)

Microsoft's Visual Basic is one of the most popular programing languages available. Its success comes from its rapid application development approach and its relative simplicity when developing complex applications.

VB is suitable for the development of applications that don't need to be close to the operating system to perform well. Because VB is shields the developer from the intricacies of the system, it allows fast application development. In the context of web applications, it is the primary choice for the development of COM objects. In most situations, the performance gains by using lower level languages such as C/C++ do not justify the added complexity and cost of development.

The Visual Basic family of language is ByYourSite primary programing language.

Read more about Visual Basic on Microsoft's web site or by following links on our links page.

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VBScript and VB for Application (VBA)

VBScript and VBA are subsets of Visual Basic. They both use a syntax similar to VB, but they don't support all of its features.

VBA was designed to bring scripting ability to desktop applications. With VBA, applications can be extended, customized and integrated to meet specific business needs.

VBScript is designed to offer lightweight scripting capabilities for low-memory environments, such as web browsers and web servers, and is most commonly used in creating HTML Web pages. VBScript's built-in limitations come from its lightweight requirements and the necessity to satisfy the Internet security needs. It doesn't support functions that directly access the client's operating system or file system. For example, you cannot do file Input/Output or read the registry on the client's machine. These functions are limited to the server side applications.

Microsoft tried to impose VBScript as the default client-side scripting for the World Wide Web, but its lack of support by Netscape resulted in the dominance of JavaScript.

The Visual Basic family of languages is ByYourSite's primary working tools.

Read more about VBA or VBScript on Microsoft's web site or by following links in our links page.

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JavaScript, JScript and ECMAScript

Contrary to what the name JavaScript might make you think, it has nothing to do with the Java Programing language. Today, JavaScript is the default language for client-side scripting (browser scripting). All modern browsers support it, but this has not always been the case.

JavaScript was developed by Netscape to add scripting power to its servers and browsers. It first appeared with Netscape Navigator 2.0. In turn, Microsoft implemented its version of the language, JScript, with the release of Internet Explorer 3.0.

Even though both JavaScript and JScript were very similar, the differences justified the push for the development of a standard. The variation between the two implementations of the scripting language were mostly designed to enhance the support of the manufacturer's own platform. The core of the languages were similar, but the variations were sufficient enough to impede the growth of the World Wide Web. Under pressure from the web community, both manufacturers submitted a proposal for a standard scripting language to the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA). The ECMAScript was born under the ECMA-262 specifications and adopted in June 1997.

Today when you talk about JScript, JavaScript or ECMAScript you are basically talking about the same thing under a different marketing flare.

With its object orientation capabilities and its syntactical similarities to C, C++ and Java, JavaScript is easy to learn and comfortable to use. Even though it's an interpreted scripting language, JavaScript remains very powerful and can scale well to meet complicated programing tasks.

To our knowledge, the best JavaScript book is David Flanagan's JavaScript, The Definitive Guide (O'Reilly & Associates). The power of this book is that after you learn the basics of the language, it remains a very good reference source.

ByYourSite has extended experience with JavaScript. We especially enjoy its flexibility and its syntactical similarities with C, C++ and Java.

On the web, read more about JavaScript on Netscape's or Microsoft's web sites or directly from the ECMA web site or by following links in our links page.

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When Sun Microsystems introduced Java in 1995, it promised to deliver a simple, object-oriented, high-performance, platform-independent programming language. It was exactly what the booming Internet needed.

Java is relatively simple as it takes a lot from the C/C++ syntax. Java removes many of the complexities inherent to these languages. For example, in Java there is no need to manipulate pointers, as the language handles them automatically.

Unlike C++, Java was designed to be an object-oriented language. An object-oriented application is the sum of multiple components (objects) that communicate through interfaces. Each object performs only one function well and this is done independently of other objects. A given object knows only how to pass information to other objects and it is not aware of what the other object is doing with the information.

The power of object-oriented language is that it allows the development of flexible and extensible applications. With objects, if the requirements for an application change, you need to replace the functionality of specific objects instead of modifying the entire application.

Object-orientation also promotes code reuse. Since each object performs a well-defined task, each time this task is needed you simply need to call the object and get the desired result.

Java can be platform-independent. Programmers write code to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) rather than to a specific operating system. Although it is possible to write non-portable programs, Java makes it very easy to implement what Sun calls "Write Once, Run Anywhere" code.

ByYourSite is actively prospecting for opportunities to gain more experience with Java in the context of JSP. Please read on our special offer.

Read more about Java on Sun's web site or by following links from our links page.

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Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is what makes today's world wide web possible. With HTML, the Internet evolved from being a collection of plain text documents linked via special indexes to today's rich media of formatted-text documents containing their own links, images, sound and video.

HTML is all about the look of a document. HTML files are plain text files that contain a set of predefined tags which describe the text should be formatted. For example, if you want to make a string of text appear in bold face you enclose it in-between <b> and </b> tags. When the browser encounters angle brackets (<>), it understands that it contains an HTML tag and it tries to interpret it.

If you want to see what the source of an HTML page looks like you can go in the "View" menu of your browser and select "View source." This will display the HTML for the currently-loaded page.

HTML is static by nature. In any given situation the page will always be rendered the same way by a given browser.

It's important to understand that the tags or the files are not performing any formatting themselves; the browser is responsible for the interpretation and rendering of the tags according to the HTML standards. The standards for HTML are defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Responsibility for the implementation of the standard is left to the browser's manufacturer. In the "browser war" for domination of the world wide web, and in an effort to gain users adoption, manufacturers constantly added new features to their browsers and then pushed these features to the W3C in an attempt to make it become standards. This is why today browsers are incompatible.

Even if in modern browsers the pool of standardized features is increasing and the exceptions are fewer, there are many users who are still using older browsers. Still today, to publish a public web site, the author has to compromise; should the site be limited to the functionality of an older browser? What generation of browser should the site support? Should the experience be enhanced only for one manufacturer's browser? These questions should be addressed at design time and the answers will strictly depend on the site's intended use, and on the potential user population.

Meanwhile, we recommend that everyone keep their browsers up to date. Not only does this assure you of a better experience but it also assures that your browser implements the latest security patches. To check on your browser version you can go in the "Help" menu and select "about," or if you use Netscape you can click here. You can download the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer from:
and the latest version of Netscape Navigator at:

Needless to say, HTML is the ABCs of ByYourSite's line of business...

You can find links to some of the many web sites providing information about HTML by following links in our links page.

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Dynamic Hypertext Markup Language (DHTML) is actually a combination of HTML, style sheets and a scripting language such as JavaScript.

DHTML is a way to override HTML's static nature. By using scripting language, it is possible to modify properties of some HTML tags and in some cases you can change the content of the tags themselves.

For example, it is possible to create rollover effects (image that changes when you place your mouse over it). To achieve this effect you use the scripting language to swap the source property of the image tag with another. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defined the Document Object Model (DOM) to allow programs and scripts to dynamically access and update the content, structure and style of documents. With the DOM a programer can access each elements on the page to produce DHTML.

Style sheets are a set of instructions which tell the browser on how content should be rendered on the page. The W3C defined the Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) standard to help manufacturers build compatibility between their browsers. With DHTML and CSS it is possible to considerably change the look of a page programmatically.

DHTML is where the difference between the browsers is at its greatest. Some DHTML was possible since the third generation of browsers, but advanced DHTML wasn't really implemented before the browsers of version 4. Even then Microsoft's and Netscape's implementation were incompatible.

Some features may be present in some browsers and not in others. For instance, say where you want the content of a paragraph to change in function of what the user inputs in a text box. With Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 (IE) you can change the content inside paragraph tags to react to the user input. With Netscape Navigator you can't change the tag's content, but only, as with IE, tag's the properties. The result is, to produce the same effect with Netscape you would have to pre-write several hidden paragraphs and only display them via DHTML according to the need.

To make things more complicated, some features are supported by both browsers but not implemented in the same way. Even worse, some properties are not consistent among browsers of the same generation and of the same manufacturer running on different platforms. Particularly with IE, some features are available on IE 4 for Windows but not on IE 4 for Macintosh.

Thankfully for HTML, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is stepping in to implement the Document Object Model (DOM) that defines the way the browser is supposed to access the various tags, tag properties and tag content.

Our book suggestion for DHTML is Danny Goodman's "Dynamic HTML, The Definitive Reference" (O'Reilly & Associates). As its name implies this book is more a reference than a tutorial, and thus targets the developer rather than the curious layman. It is a very good guide, and will help you wade through the maze of browsers compatibility.

Like HTML, DHTML is at the foundation of ByYourSite's knowledge. We have extended experience in resolving cross-browser issues.

Read more about the DOM or CSS at the W3C web site, or get more information on DHTML and Style Sheets by following links in our links page.

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Extensible Markup Language (XML) is to the document content (data) what HTML is to the document layout.

XML is a simple, standard way to delimit text data... It is structured such that you can formally describe the syntax you have devised and share it with anyone using any other computing platform.

XML describes a document's content rather than it's layout information. As we have seen above with HTML, it is impossible to know what a paragraph of text is talking about. The only thing that we know is that we are dealing with a paragraph, and nothing distinguishes that paragraph from another. Like HTML, XML uses tags to describe the content. For example, with XML it is possible to know if a given paragraph is the introduction or the conclusion.

The Extensible Stylesheet Language: Transformation (XSLT) is used in conjunction with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to render the XML into other formats such as HTML and PDF. XSLT is often referred to as being the query language for XML documents, as it can take the raw XML and retrieve, sort and aggregate the data to get the desired output. XSLT is fairly new and the W3C standard has not yet been implemented by many XML parsers.

Before XSLT you could only process XML via custom applications that would interact with an Application Programing Interface (API) defined by the parser. The two most common APIs are the Simple API for XML (SAX) and the Document Object Model (DOM).

XSLT doesn't transform the document itself but rather its representation. XSLT relies on a SAX or a DOM parser to build a tree structure that represents the data, and then applies its rules to transform the tree. XSLT provides the language to manipulate and navigate through the tree.

As XML is fairly new, ByYourSite is actively prospecting for opportunities to gain more experience in this field. Please read on our special offer.

As book reference we would recommend Didier Martin et al. in Professional XML (Wrox) and Michael Kay's XSLT Programer's Reference (Wrox).

Get more information on XML and XSLT by following links from our links page.

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Structured Query Language (SQL)

Since the '80s, a standard for Structured Query Language (SQL) has been defined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This standard is the ANSI-SQL. Today, most Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) are at least compliant with entry-level ANSI-SQL.

SQL is used to retrieve and manipulate information stored into relational databases. With SQL one can add, edit, retrieve, delete, filter, sort, and aggregate data stored into Relational Database Management Systems.

To add flexibility and power, most vendors extend ANSI-SQL with their own functionalities. For instance, Microsoft SQLServer calls its version of SQL, Transact-SQL (T-SQL) and Oracle calls its version PL/SQL. Most of these extensions add to ANSI-SQL logic operators and specific calls to the Relational Database Management Systems.

ByYourSite has extended knowledge of SQL and T-SQL in the context of web application development.

Get more information on SQL by following links in our links page.

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Authoring Tools

Most web source code is plain text, so why use authoring tools? Why buy and learn a new tool when text editors, such as Notepad, are already bundled with the operating system? My answer to this is "productivity". Authoring tools considerably boost your productivity by offering all the utilities that you need under the same hood and by adding color-coding to your code.

There are two main approaches when producing code. There is the "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG) way and the "straight type it all" way. WYSIWYG is an environment in which the developer interacts with a graphical representation of web page elements (buttons, forms, images, text...). Elements are dragged and doped on a representation of the page. Then the software interprets the layout and generates the HTML and supporting scripts. The best packages, such as Dreamweaver, generate the source code on the fly.

WYSIWYG is very intuitive (if the user interface is well designed), it does not require code learning, and it can be much faster in producing the desired layout.

WYSIWYG's biggest weakness comes from its primary idea, "to shield the user from the code" and can become counterproductive. As they are designed to handle graphical representation they often lack tools that allow global changes. A programmer will have the tendency to rely on the graphical tool and thus will not learn the code. If down the road there is a problem with the layout the programmer will not know how to edit the source code. It is very common in WYSIWYG to get in a situation where you are stuck with something that does not work well and if you can't edit the source code, the fastest way to get out off it is to start your page from scratch when it is often just a matter of changing or replacing a few properties.

Many WYSIWYG manufacturers assumed that the developer will not need to touch the source code, so they produced source code that was optimized for their software and not for the human eye. As a result many early versions of these packages have the tendency to "digest" the code. Some tools, like earlier versions of Microsoft Front Page will open an existing source code and rewrite it to its benefit. Not only will this destroy your visual queues (indentation, comments...) that you have carefully inserted, but it will also break sections of code that it does not interpret correctly. This is especially true if you are in a situation where you are using a script to generate HTML. In this case you have HTML interspersed with code, and a badly behaved application will have the tendency to only interpret the HTML ignoring the script. Trying to be user-friendly it tries to correct the HTML as it thinks it is incomplete when in effect it will break your code.


HomeSite was created by Allaire (now Macromedia) and is very popular among HTML developers working on a Windows platform.

For a reasonable price, HomeSite provides quick tips for tag completion, good color coding and support for HTML, JavaScript, Java and CFML.

The greatest strengths of HomeSite is that it does not "digest" the code and it is very simple to use. It is the perfect source editing tool.

HomeSite can be intimidating to beginners as it does not provide a good WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) environment. It is really designed to help write code manually instead of dragging and dropping objects in a form.

However, we consider HomeSite to be the perfect learning tool for the person interested in web technology. It provides all the tips and information to write good HTML. HomeSite provides very strong tools like extended search and replace tools that are real time savers.

HomeSite is one of the primary tools used by ByYourSite to develop web pages.

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Dreamweaver (UltraDev)

Macromedia Dreamweaver was the first WYSIWYG HTML editor that did not "digest" source code. Its user interface, though well designed, follows a Macintosh paradigm and can, at first, be confusing if you are a straight Microsoft user.

Dreamweaver can be a great learning tool as it is possible to do WYSIWYG work and see at the same time the source being edited. A beginner can use this feature to learn what are the tags or structures needed to achieve the desired layout.

One of Dreamweaver's strong features is its ability to use templates and objects. These tools are great time savers and help to assure consistency across the web site. Template objects are snippets of HTML code that are stored in a central location. When the source of the template or of an object is edited the rest of the site that uses it is automatically updated.

UltraDev is an extension of Dreamweaver that adds server side scripting capabilities to Dreamweaver. With UltraDev it is possible to create ASP, JSP, and ColdFusion script.

Finally, Dreamweaver 4 integrates very smoothly with Fireworks, Macromedia's web graphic tool. This greatly simplifies and speeds up the production of graphic intensive layouts.

Dreamweaver is gradually gaining importance in ByYourSite's tool set. For the most part this site is built using Dreamweaver and Fireworks.

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Visual InterDev

Visual InterDev is Microsoft's tool for web application development. It is part of Microsoft Visual studio and as such it is very well integrated with other Microsoft tools such as SQLServer, Visual Basic, C++ and Visual SourceSafe.

The great asset of Visual InterDev is developing data driven ASP applications in a multiple user environment. Within the environment it is possible to directly access the data and create views and stored procedures. In a multiple user environment you can use an external source control such as SourceSafe or use InterDev native tools to assure your files' integrity. In addition, InterDev provides a set of design time and run time objects that can simplify one's work (be careful when using these features as they tend to be optimized for Microsoft's browsers).

Visual InterDev is going to be phased out by Microsoft. In the new VisualStudio.Net, Microsoft removed InterDev and added its functionalities into the Integrated Development Environment of Visual Basic, C++ and C#.

InterDev is ByYourSite's primary tool when developing applications with Active Server Pages, SQLServer and that are controlled by Visual SourceSafe.

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Front Page

FrontPage is Microsoft's WYSIWYG tool. It is a very good tool if you are OK with doing your pages Microsoft's way. A person used to Microsoft's interfaces will feel right at home from the beginning, and most steps are fairly intuitive.

FrontPage is not designed with script writers in mind. Earlier versions (before FrontPage 2000) were notorious at digesting your code, and to edit scripts you still have to rely on an external tools (Notepad, InterDev...). However, if you are using FrontPage Extensions on the server it becomes very easy to use canned server side script such as form handling, counter and discussions.

At ByYourSite we use FrontPage mostly in situations where we are requested to leverage FrontPage Extensions. We prefer to use tools such as HomeSite, InterDev or Dreamweaver.

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Visual SourceSafe

Visual SourceSafe is not an authoring tool per say. It is part of the Microsoft Visual Studio suite and is a source control tool. When working in a multiple developer environment, source control is essential for avoiding and resolving potential modification conflicts, and with big projects, source control allows to keep track of modifications' history and help in the production of distinct releases.

Visual SourceSafe integrates nicely with the rest of the Visual Studio tools and can be used to control any type of file produced by any development language, authoring tool, or application.

ByYourSite has experience in administrating Visual SourceSafe and uses it in most of its projects.

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Web based Geographical Information Systems (Web GIS) are often seen as a way to extend full blown GIS applications. With Web GIS it is possible to limit data sharing costs and provide an easy-to-learn interface to complex datasets.

ByYourSite has some experience with Web GIS using ArcIMS and MapGuide and is actively prospecting for opportunities to gain more experience with web based GIS. Please read on our special offer.


ArcIMS is ESRI's web solution. With ArcInfo and ArcView ESRI is the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) applications leader.

With ArcIMS, maps can be displayed on the web using ready-to-use HTML/DHTML and Java clients, or rely on custom made client applications written with Active Server Page (ASP), ColdFusion, or JavaServer Pages (JSP).

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MapGuide is Autodesk's Web GIS solution. Autodesk, a Computer Assisted Design (CAD) leader who took ESRI by surprise when it first released MapGuide. After MapGuide's release, ESRI had to play catch-up with the power, lightweight, and ease of use offered by its challenger.

The MapGuide server comes bundled with ColdFusion Server but it can also be interfaced with ASP and JSP to display maps on the web.

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There are several type of databases. Today, most popular systems with businesses are the Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS). Relational Database Management Systems attempt to model a system by storing data in various tables and keeping track of the relationship between the data in each table.

ByYourSite's databases experience is mostly around Microsoft's tools. We will describe two of the three database systems that Microsoft offers, Access and SQLServer. The third product by Microsoft is FoxPro.


Microsoft Access is not a Relational Database Management System but rather a file based database that is disguised as one. Access is part of Microsoft Office and is very popular on desktops. It is relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and robust enough for many business applications.

One big reason for Access dominance is that it is allows to build self-supporting applications. Access integrates the user interface or forms, the data storage or tables, the reporting tool or reports, scripting via Visual Basic for Applications, and a visual query builder into one package. Using this tool it is possible to build complete data driven applications.

Access can also be used for small scale web applications. Even if it can't handle many concurrent connections to the data and that it is considered less secure than enterprise scale Relational Database Management Systems, Access successfully handles low budget, low traffic web sites.

ByYourSite uses on Access on a regular basis to develop both database applications and web applications.

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SQL Server

SQLServer is Microsoft's Relational Database Management System (RDBMS). With the increase of reliability of the Windows servers platform, SQLServer is getting very popular in the business world for mid to large scale database requirements. For the past few years SQLServer has been eating away market share from Oracle, Informix, DB2 and Sybase.

Unlike Access, SQLServer is designed with a multi-user environment in mind, and thus it is a much more robust database system for the web. SQLServer can handle many simultaneous connections and enable multiple access levels enhancing security.

The beauty of SQLServer is that it integrates very smoothly with the rest of Microsoft tools and can considerably simplify development and administration needs.

SQLServer is ByYourSite's main database system used for the development of web based applications. ByYourSite is experienced in conducting SQLServer basic administrative tasks.

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Graphic and Layout tools

The web, principally being a visual media, this reference page would be incomplete without an introduction to some graphic and layout tools.

Vector and bitmap (or raster) are two main strategies in storing digital images .

A vector image format stores image rendering information using mathematical functions or vectors that define series of areas of common properties (color) surrounded by lines and circles. Vector based images are ideal for representing images where there are not many variations from one point to the other such as illustration and fonts. The great advantage of vector images is that because they are defined by mathematical functions, they are not dependent on resolution or size. If vector based images can only approximate continuous tones (shadow effects) they tend to produce smaller files than raster images.

Bitmap images represent an image by defining the colors and positions of tiny dots put side by side. Bitmap images are ideal to represent photo realistic images, or graphics with continuous tone requirements such as fading or shadow effects.

Since the image is represented by a defined number of dots it becomes dependent on resolution and size. If you have an image that is defined by 1000 dots in width and 1000 dots in height and that you print it on a square of one inch by one inch, the image will not show the different dots and will look very sharp. Now if you increase the size of the printed image to one foot by one foot, the size of each dot will have to be increased proportionately to fill the space, the eye will start to distinguish the various dots that compose the image.

Bitmap image file size tends to be larger than vector image file size and are directly dependent on resolution. Web browsers typically support only bitmap image formats such as JPG and GIF. Macromedia Flash files are very efficient because they use vector base images, but they require a browser plug-in to be displayed.

JPG and GIF are names for bitmap compression algorithms. The JPG algorithm is typically more efficient at compressing files that have continuous tones such as photos. The GIF algorithm is more efficient at compressing files composed of large areas with the same colors such as illustrations. The GIF algorithm limits the number of colors that can be displayed to an index. Colors that are not within the index are approximated by rasterizing the image (a green area would be an intermix of yellow and blue dots).


Macromedia Fireworks is specialized in producing graphics for the web. It can handle both vector and bitmap based images as a source. Most work in Fireworks is done using vector based images that are then exported to GIF or JPG files.

Fireworks was one of the first programs to offer a complete set of tools such as image slicing and image optimization tools that simplify the life of a web graphic designer. With these tools, the author can concentrate on the layout and let the software generate the HTML.

Fireworks is also very well integrated with Dreamweaver. Since version 4 of the programs it is possible to go back and forth between the two applications while keeping the changes synchronized.

Fireworks is ByYourSite's primary tool for producing web graphics. For the most part this site is built using Fireworks and Dreamweaver.

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Adobe Photoshop has been for many years the leader in bitmap image editing. This very powerful tool was designed for the printed media. For web production, Adobe has been playing catch up with Macromedia Fireworks since version 5.5.

With version 6.0, Photoshop became a very strong contender for web graphics. This will allow Adobe to leverage on the huge pull of Photoshop users that would rather not have to learn a new tool to do their work on the web.

Photoshop is ByYourSite's primary image editing tool.

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Other Graphic and Layout software

Among other graphic tools regularly used are vector based drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia Freehand. These tools are often used by graphic illustrators to produce original illustrations that are then imported into a tool such as Fireworks or Photoshop to produce web graphics.

Some designers like to use page layout software such Adobe PageMaker or Quark QuarkExpress to create web page templates. These tools are often used by graphic designers working for printed media. To be familiar with these tools and to be able to import these files in a web production environment leverages the pool of artists working for print only.

At ByYourSite we are familiar with all these tools.

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*ByYourSite has no commercial interest in any of the company mentioned herein.


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