01 March 2009

The Uppercase team provided development support for the updated Minn Kota web site. The previous site was built using an ASP (VBScript) CMS that I built a couple years earlier. Everything had to be rebuilt because of the change of underlying technology. The new site relies on Ektron CMS400.Net, a robust enterprise-level CMS application.

The theme for the site had complexity and demands far beyond those that are easily accommodated by Ektron. We built a number of custom web services for integration via AJAX. We built an elaborate system of "smart forms", library items and assets to build a very large and robust web site. There are several key features that received extensive attention.

Extensive Aggregation

The site is full of lists of related and random items. The lists require aggregation of smart form data. This requires a combination of codebehind development, custom user components and extensive XSLT documents.

Custom Request Caching

The aggregation requires significant processing power. Unfortunately, the Ektron URL alias mechanism conflicts with ASP.Net system caching. Courtesy of our multiple levels of master pages, I was able to build an effective request-based caching mechanism that respects the particular demands of the Ektron system while fully addressing the speed issues.

Web Interface Optimization

Themes of this complexity create a severe delay for users. To address this issue, we utilized UIX to aggregate, compact and compress the JS/CSS files. It also manages sprites. More details on this are available elsewhere.

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