May 2000

SEASONBYSEASON.COM GOES LIVE in time for the PBS debut of the Season by Season cooking show (12:00 Saturdays). The show, which has been getting a great deal of attention in the media lately, features Michael Chiarello, the chef at Tra Vigne restaurant in St. Helena and author of a best seller cookbook. Addwater created the graphics and flow of the site; OMIX built the backend and hosts this site.

JAVA SERVER PAGES are becoming a de facto standard way for a server to generate new pages from a database (i.e., dynamically - not static pages). Engineers write Java code embedded in HTML files, and when the Web server hits the Java code, the server executes the program. The program typically gets new information from a database and then creates new HTML-formatted information on the fly or is sent to a user's browser. This used to be done mostly with Perl code and the process was called CGI. Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASP, but not the same ASP as below) then became a very popular form, but now JSP seems to be surpassing ASP on the new sites. A key reason for JSP's popularity is that is JSP can run on non-Microsoft platforms such as Unix.

EVERYONE WANTS TO BE AN ASP. Now that business-to-consumer .com companies are taking a hit in the market, many companies are entering the Application Service Provider (yes, ASP again) market. An ASP might run almost any business application or Web site, then provide the application back to users via the Internet or private networks. This is a more complete service than the traditional hosting services, which provide a network connection, wire cage, and power to allow you to keep your Web servers at the hosting company.

XML CONTINUES TO GAIN MOMENTUM. XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language and it looks like HTML, which is the language in which Web pages are written. The difference is that HTML just says what a page should look like, but XML defines what a piece of information is. For example, HTML could present '1435' in a bold blue font, but XML could also label it as an order number. This helps different applications or remote Web sites to communicate with one another, since computer software can process '1435' if it can determine that it is an order number.

INFORMATION SHARING BETWEEN SITES is generally accomplished in one of three different ways. The easiest is to provide a link to the remote site, but then the customer may never come back to your site. A better way is to build a frame around the remote page, on which you can keep your logo (see www.ask.com). One of the best ways to share information is to use an XML interface to the remote site. With this approach, you can get just the information you need and present it to the user on your site. For example if you have an XML link with a shipper, your Web site can obtain and display shipping status information without losing the user to the shipper's site.

CONTENT IS A KILLER to create. Text on a Web site has to be concisely written in a single voice by writers who really understand the site's vision. Catalogs with tens of thousands of products can require many days of work to fill in missing fields, add descriptions, or produce digital photos. Photos should have a professional look and have the right size and resolution if they are to be served up dynamically from a database. It can be difficult to plan your site and content to be ready all at the same time. OMIX often builds Web tools to help companies input new content as it becomes available.

BEAR MARKET IS AFFECTING OUR WEB WORLD in interesting ways. People are switching to a longer-term focus, since fortunes are not being made in months anymore. Teams with long-term industry experience are buying entrepreneur-created .com companies that VC's may be pushing to sell.

FOR QUESTIONS OR TO RECEIVE OMIX NEWS call Kyle Hurlbut, Jim Chabrier or Milla Milojkovic at 650-330-8950 or sales@omix.com