Branding Application Continued..

September 10, 2006

In the previous post on this topic, I talked about simple ways of branding application or content pages. Sometimes, however a much higher level of customization is required.

This is usually handled in one of the two popular ways of doing this-  Having custom templates, and having a separate UI layer hosted either by customer or service provider.

While SME prefer having a custom template, large enterprises want a seperate UI layer.

We understand fairly well about how custom templates work, we use them in the blogs. It essentially requires us to have a UI framework which can decide which template to use at the runtime. There are only a few frameworks which do this out of the box, most require some enhancements. (For example they read configuration of which template to use from XML file – hence requiring customization to make them read it from database instead).

When creating a separate UI altogether,

– Don’t go about exposing the business layer. Traditionally the “UI Layer” is heavy, having all the elements of MVC pattern with the controller and action having a fair amount of code in them. Think of exposing equivalent of the “XML server” you would if you had an AJAX based UI. The difference is that this layer will not reflect your business model and will not be well defined services. Instead, they will be one to one with the UI hence minimising the amount of logic that is required.

– Do all the validation on the server side – just in case the custom implementation misses out on something.

– Expose reference data values as a separate service. It will also ideally publish a SDK in c#/asp.net, java/jsp and PHP/perl.

– It somethimes help if you provide mappings with industry standards ( if your reference data is not) for example, while booking hotels, you should support ISO city codes as well. This will allow the customer to seamlessly merge the services from multiple providers.

In the next post, I will talk about custom Navigation, Ads, Site stats and custom error messages and contact info.

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