Webserver use, configuration and management
Here the questions revolve around getting the website content from the authoring/design teams in a managed and controlled manner. It is vital to all commercial and most organisational websites that the general public are not exposed to half completed work, obsolete material, or maliciously planted material, so the questions include:
Here the questions relate to the information architecture and how the information space is divided up so as to make it comprehensible to the users. In parallel to the architecture questions that are user focused there are the structure questions relating to the layout of the data on the server in a comprehensible and extendable structure. Once the structure is in place and the data loaded then tools can be used to maintain the coherence of the information space, including:
Security is an omnipresent concern that requires consideration at all levels of development and infrastructure, including:
Monitoring includes the view taken on the readers of the website:
In addition, the monitoring needs to embrace the more inward looking performance measures to ensure:
The above relate to measurable and direct parameters, there is of course the additional assessment of the HCI issues and usability questions regarding the website design. These issues, whilst very important, will be addressed in other units, for example AUFDW.
What happens when things go wrong?
The legal framework for the proper operation of a webserver is complex, and whilst the unit will not offer a sound ‘legal’ view will address the issues and highlight routes to locating the relevant external advice.
The final substantial session will address the issue of scalability, and how both the information design decisions, the configuration and setup decisions, and the platform purchase decisions have an impact on the surprising impact of success.
An example is the crash of the 1901 census website (www.familyrecords.gov.uk) under the weight of 50 million hits (Anderiesz, 2002). Success brings it own problems! As a postscript to this the National Audit Office have recently published a full report investigating what happened, why and who might be blamed, see the executive summary (8 pages) at, http://www.nao.gov.uk/publications/nao_reports/02-03/02031259es.pdf, a look about the NAO site will give you the full report. I tried “1901 census” in their site search page at http://www.nao.gov.uk/search/site_search.asp which located the press releases, full report, and above executive summary. The original note about this was a couple of paragraphs in the “Backbiter” column in Personal Computer World – see if you could have tracked down the above details from the mention by Backbiter.