Introduction of ‘Information Associations’ enables construction of dynamic web environments with rich exploration options and powerful search features
Derbyshire, UK – Esprit Soutron (ESP) has announced the third major release of its xdirectory structured content management solution. Version 1.3 adds some 20 powerful new features to the fully browser-based environment for designing, populating and publishing database-driven web sites.
Most significantly, site designers can introduce ‘Associations’ to the structured model of their content. Once defined, ‘Associations’ makes it possible for content authors to build specific end-user pathways through the material they are creating and/or to build ad-hoc linkages between independent pieces of information distributed within their site. The result can transform a fragmented site having information only accessible via searching, to a coherent and comprehensive environment that provides users with a rich set of navigation options, encouraging exploration of a site’s full range of content.
In xdirectory 1.3, site users can also create one or more ‘baskets’ for storing favourite items and searches. As well as saving records for personal use, these baskets can be published, making them available to other users to allow information sharing among groups with similar interests or goals.
The power of xdirectory 1.3 as an interactive and interoperable solution has also been greatly enhanced by the introduction of ‘Active Tags’. These new tools enable designers to enhance their sites with input forms through which users can directly contribute database content, as well as giving them the ability to construct web ‘pages’ that allow information to be passed into xdirectory directly from external systems in a web service model.
Another interoperability enhancement is the introduction of comprehensive XML export options that parallel the import facilities already available. Items can be collected and exported for local use (e.g. via baskets) or bulk extracted for transfer to third parties.
Other areas of new functionality include the introduction of an HTML editor, giving low-level formatting of textual information; the introduction of record templates that permit default and calculated values to be pre-filled when new records are created; extensions to the preview functionality that enables an editor to view how the information being created will be rendered to the end user and further extensions in the advanced search options that can be offered on the site. Importantly for organisations with offices worldwide or for businesses needing to communicate in local languages, support for UTF-8 has also been introduced, giving users the ability to store and use language character sets such as Chinese, Arabic and Greek.
The City of Westminster is already using many of the new features of xdirectory 1.3 in a project supported by the New Opportunity Fund, where a number of initiatives are being brought together to create the ‘London Discovery’ portal. In particular two of the portal sites, ’10 Generations’ and ‘FACET’ are using the new ‘Associations’ functionality to create Learning Journeys that lead visitors along one of many narrative paths through the sites content.
The Greater London Authority (GLA) is also using xdirectory 1.3 to drive an enhanced web site that provides citizens with access to the Agendas, Reports and Minutes of all of the GLA Committees as part of its drive for greater public transparency. The automatic harvesting of meta-data from the properties and content of GLA documents for incorporation into the underlying xdirectory database and the flexible end-user navigation around the resulting site being two key features enabled by the new version of the software.
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1. Web sites are more effective when they are built around well-structured content dynamically drawn together to meet the requirements of the target end user. xdirectory allows the construction of database-driven web sites that can meet these demanding requirements. It can be used to build entire sites or to provide support for particular structured components within a general site, such as access to embedded e-directory of resources (e.g. images, documents, organisations, people etc). The design of the underlying information structures for an xdirectory site and the rendering of that content to users are both fully configurable.
2. Esprit Soutron develops and deploys web-based information management tools and solutions that deliver our users the right information, at the right time. With over 800 UK and international installations, ESP has clients from the public and private sector including the World Energy Council, Westminster City Council, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Birmingham City Council, Staffordshire University, AT Kearney, Mayne Pharma, and the Bank of England.
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