ALP Catalog Type 2 (preview)
Early preview - product is under development
With this catalog we are starting a set of ALP based products for end-users
and developers. This one is mostly for developers who need to prepare catalog
oriented applications for autorun CDs. However it is applicable for some other
applications too. The final version will include WEB server support as well.
A few words about it.
The catalog is based on simple Microsoft Access DB with a few tables. The
abstract structure includes categories and Items. Items are linked to categories
(one or more). The detailed information about the items is in separate tables
(articles, images, links and the final version will add also price/shipping).
The details from the other tables can be linked to each other and to the items
The catalog has edit/admin pages. They can be configured to allow some of the
above relations and disallow others. Thus adopting the catalog to the particular
application is a matter of changing several rules (the visual tool for this is
not ready - see in the default.asp in the admin directories).
The other side of the catalog is the public/presentation side. It is based on
HTML templates implemented in ASP using the TextEmbedParser component
from ASP Compiler. TextEmbedParser parses a HTML page (the template) and
serves a tree like structure to the ASP page. The ASP page implements a set of
Sub-s that are called for every node in the document tree where TEMPLATE HTML
attribute points to the key name of the Sub. The Sub-s have common prototype and
their purpose is to inspect the node, change its contents and attributes and
(depending on the Sub purpose) to invoke the same procedure for the elements
under this node (e.g. the HTML elements enclosed by the element represented by
the processed node).
The effect is a very powerful template technique that uses the existing standard
HTML tags. There are similar techniques in JSP and ASP.NET but none of them
is based on standard HTML tags! This allows the developer to construct templates
that can be opened and changed in visual HTML editor applications (such as
FrontPage) without causing corruption of the HTML code.
In fact the template drives the ASP page. The template HTML is a regular HTML
page with additional HTML attributes set to some of the elements in it. They
specify the routines to be called from the ASP page and some parameters for
them. This automatically leads to flexible and universal ASP code and allows
some standard Sub-s to be prepared (in the catalog they are in the include file)
and as many specialized as the developer wants to build. Thus particular
template based application can be implemented with quite universal routines or
with specialized ones. The settings required in the template can be many (for
universal ones) and minimal (for specialized ones). This allows the developer to
prepare something simple - for the non-experienced users or something complex
but flexible for himself.
More details about the HTML templates are included in ASP Compiler 1.1 beta
and will be published as separate articles later.
The contents of the archive
It contains ALP engine with ALPFrame and is configured to run without need to
install it first - thus unpack the archive in an empty directory (with all the
subdirectories) and double-click ALPFrame.exe to start it. There are 3 copies of
the catalog application:
- catalog - information for the catalog itself.
- empty - empty catalog application (if you want to perform some tests etc.)
- sample - sample catalog application (a little sample data)
And in the tmlsamples directory you will find some HTML template
oriented samples based only on the standard/universal parts of its code. If you
are interested in the HTML template in general review them - they are simple and
will show the the template idea more easilly.