Behind the curtain of this website

If you find problems with this website:
If you find any difficulties with this website, and are daring enough :) to report them to us, please see the Contact page.

How this site works - and how someone without software/website development knowledge can update it!
This site is a good example of how separating software development, content to publish, and presentation styling, can ease website production and maintenance.

Within the styling capabilities setup on this website (e.g. the styling options provided and the navigation structure scheme at the top), the content can be expanded, deleted and edited just by changing the contents of a few text-based files with any text editor including Word. The styling capabilities can also be modified in the same way with a small amount of XSLT and HTML knowledge. So to a great extent, after the initial software/website development capabilites (and graphics) are created (and can be extended later) for a site like this, no expensive software development resource is required to update the contents of this site or (with a little knowledge) the way it looks!

The technical talk!
This website uses these technologies, tools or languages: ASP.NET VB.NET XML XSLT HTML CSS

All of the content is stored without any information about presentation style (e.g. layout, style, etc). However, the content is stored in such a way that it is 'marked' with the kind of content it is, and the grouping/hierarchy it falls under.

Using the VB.NET language a given page is generated using ASP.NET technology, picking the appropriate content ('on-the-fly' if necessary), and then transforming it (on the web server in this case) to HTML (that the browser understands) using a prescribed XSLT (XSL Transform). The XSL Transform contains the information necessary to 'map' presentation style (layout, colours, etc), onto the various kinds of content data. This transformation could also be picked/built 'on-the-fly' - an example reason for doing that would be to provide a personalised or customised layout or colour scheme to users. The font styling is also further separated out into a site-global CSS style sheet.

The content and the presentation styling transforms are stored separately in XML files. XML is great for storage and also describing/grouping data in such a way that both a computer and a human can make sense of the data with minimal effort.