HTML/OS Case Study for Beginners
Contributed by Darryl Kissinger
About This Document
Overview of Contents
Content sections generally follow a time sequence of presentation, with first-developed case applications covered first. To the degree the case study system development followed a typical business system development cycle, studying the case in time sequence may help the reader deal first with those types of problems that typically occur early in a development process, and progress from there. Time sequencing also takes advantage of the fact that the case study programmer started the project as a beginner, so the beginning reader may follow along with his learning curve.
What’s so easy about HTML/OS?
The answer to this question would have been hard to explain to me as a beginning web programmer, even though I had already worked in several non-web oriented programming environments where months of continuous ramp-up time was typical for professional programmers to become effective in a new language environment. My actual experiences trying to get started with other web environments set the stage for the amazement I felt after completing my first web-based application with HTML/OS.
The built-in database system is an important contributor to making HTML/OS easy. This ease does come at the cost of not being SQL or ODBC-compliant, which may potentially be a serious problem for some users. However, in terms of ease of use for the user who does not need the universality of these standards, a lot is gained by having database access methods embedded in the language, as well as the ability to maintain the database from within the HTML/OS environment.
Other contributors to making HTML/OS easy: the simple structure of HTML/OS code that runs before page creation (underlay), during page creation (inlay), and upon a form submit button being clicked (on-click overlay); the session environment that is automatically created and maintained through all subsequent page changes after simply accessing a start link (without relying on client cookies); the private folder environment which can protect page files at an increased level of security; a rich library of tags, called otags or overlay tags, that deal with many common business-oriented tasks with simple syntax and straightforward parameters.
Why was HTML/OS selected?
Automating this process was the first task for which a client-side programming language was evaluated. Several environments were quickly investigated, ending with an online demonstration of HTML/OS, immediately after which the few lines of code needed to perform the needed function were created and the problem was solved. The solution was easy to understand, quickly created, and implemented within a few minutes, while the competing solutions never made it out of the investigation stage.
The following section describes some of the business problems encountered by the website owners and the associated solutions created using HTML/OS, starting first with earlier, simpler applications and progressing to more recent additions. These descriptions represent how the problems were actually solved, with no attempt to note where the solution was the most efficient or best practice at the time, or how it could have been improved then or might be written better now. This level of analysis will be left to those better qualified to pursue it. So I encourage the reader to consider that in every case there may very well be a better way to get the desired result. In any case I hope these descriptions might help in some way to provide a point of reference along the path to finding the best solution.
1) Form Content Storage and Retrieval
The company wanted to eliminate the manual entry step and have the data automatically entered into a database from which daily reports could be printed.
After several weeks of investigation, HTML/OS was selected and the environment was installed in less than an hour. A database with the appropriate fields to store the form data was created within a few minutes. With a few hours more work the solution was completed by adding a form handling routine in an on-click overlay in the form file, and writing a report using a new HTML page added to the website’s new private directory.
The new database was named “email_login” because its main function was to capture contact email addresses, and it was anticipated that a user login capability would be added to the site soon, and a place would be needed to store that information. As it turned out, the user login credentials were not added to this file, but more form fields were added regularly as Marketing found new uses for the database. The original version of the file consisted of about 20 fields (shown below) although it eventually grew to its current size of 184 fields.
A form handling routine was added to the page that displays the form, and the link the user clicks to get this page was changed to an HTML/OS start link.
Here’s the start link added to the landing page for the user to access the form page. The start link activates the HTML/OS engine and a new session is opened. Request Info
In the info-request-form.htm form page body the form fields are named the same as the field names in the database. Only four of the fields are shown below, but all 20 could be included in the form if desired. Notice the hidden field EL_DATE_WRITTEN. This field is not displayed in the browser, but its value is supplied by the HTML/OS TODAY tag so the date can be written to the database.
<body> <form action=“process_form”> Name<input name=“EL_EMAIL_ADDRESS” size=“50” maxlength=“60”><br> Title<input name=“EL_NAME” size=“50” maxlength=“60”><br> Email Address<input name=“EL_EMAIL_ADDRESS” size=“50” maxlength=“60”><br> <Input type=“hidden” name=“EL_DATE_WRITTEN” value=“<<TODAY>>”> <input type=“submit” value=“submit”> </form> </body>