ALOE Reloaded!

November 21st, 2008 by Martin

Alas, it is done now. After lots of work in the last months, we today released the new ALOE! All data from the old system was copied to the new one, so don’t worry, nothing is lost. We’ve sent an email to all ALOE users with according information. When everything runs smooth now, we’ll also move the other ALOE instances such as OPENEER very soon!

Ok, what happened? ALOE might still look very similar to you, but lots of things changed, especially in the backend. Let’s start with some changes and new functionalities you will probably notice immediately:

  • The Web Interface got a redesign.
  • Enhanced navigation and sorting possibilities for several lists (e.g., MyResources ).
  • The login is now the nickname and no longer the email address.
  • We added a “Forgot your password?” functionality.
  • Atom Feeds are provided for any open group in ALOE.
  • Messages to groups can be sent.
  • A bookmarklet to add new bookmarks to ALOE is now available.
  • ALOE provides a message sentbox, and ALOE messages can optionally be forwarded to your email account.

And here some additional technical information:

  • The new ALOE Web Service stores resources, user-defined metadata sets and metadata about the resources in a MySQL data base. That way fine grained access control to the data which is stored in the system can be guaranteed.
  • ALOE has a new JSP interface which allows URI driven navigation. The implementation is performed according to the J2EE Pattern FrontController in combination with the Action Pattern in order to make the component easy to maintain and simple to extend.
  • Ajax functionality is integrated using the well-tried Action/FrontController pattern combination as well.
  • Many functionalities are implemented using the taglib library in order to avoid code replication. This also comes in handy for the server side components of Ajax functionality, where responses consisting of HTML snippets can reuse the code inside the classes of the taglib library.
  • We did our best to protect the platform against code injection or cross-site-scripting (xss).
  • Most parts of AloeView make consequent use of the formatting tag library to enable instances of the system in different languages (or even language switching at runtime later on). Multi-language support is not perfect yet, since there are some known (and definitely several unknown) code snippets, where text was directly inserted into the pages. Nevertheless most of the functionality can be switched to a new language by simply translating one text file.
  • The AloeView system validates as XHTML 1.0 Strict, although there might be some system states, where pages do not validate in all cases. It is simply impossible to check all possible combinations of database states (e.g. empty resource sets), so it is likely that validation will fail in some (rare) cases. Additionally it might happen of course, that new errors are inserted into the system since it is work in progress, but we will keep an eye on it and will do our best to guarantee standard compliance.
  • We do not longer rely on an external thumbnailer for web pages. Instead we are using our own thumbnailer based on khtml2png. There is still some trouble (e.g., with flash content and when adding a bookmark that points to a pdf or jpeg), but we’re working on this.
  • A new architecture of the ALOE Web Service has been implemented which provides the following advantages:
    • Improved interface in particular for JAVA clients. For such clients many methods return beans so that a confusion of return parameters can be avoided.
    • The business logic is encapulated in a seperate layer in order to enhance the extensibility of the system.
    • Encapsulation of the data base access in dedicated classes so that the exchange of the persistance layer will be eased for future scenarios.

Of course we are always happy about your feedback! Tell us when something is not working, when you’re missing something, when you don’t like certain features etc. Of course, we’re also happy when you tell us that you like the new ALOE :-) Have fun!

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