Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ruminating on SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an integral part of any Internet Marketing Campaign. SEO strives to increase the visibility of a website in search results. For SEO, we have to consider both on-page factors and off-page factors. Given below are some examples of what can be done on the site pages and what needs to be done outside the site pages.

On-Page factors examples:
  • Meta tags
  • Headings
  • Links
  • Keyword frequency (Internal Keyword linking strategy)
  • Site Structure (Create and submit site maps)
  • UI design that is "Search Engine Friendly" (Image Alt tags, Menus, etc.)
  • Make tagging and bookmarking easy.
  • Robots.txt
  • URL Normalization (if different URLs lead to the same content)
Off-Page factors examples:
  • PageRank analysis (Increase no. of inbound links)
  • Utilize Social Networks, Forums to form a 'link partnership'. (Social Media Optimization - Social SEO)
  • Create and submit articles, blogs, RSS feeds that link to the site.
  • Create Sharable content - Mashup ready.

Monday, June 27, 2011

XSL transformations on the brower

Recently, I came across a web framework that was quite unconventional - the framework was performing XML transformations using XSLT on the browser. All web requests were directed to a legacy system that returned XML and this XML was directly sent to the brower. The browser had already loaded the necessary XSL, Javascript and does the XML -> HTML transformation.

There are certain pros and cons of this approach.
  • Clear separation of markup/layout from content.
  • Heavy XSL processing offloaded to the brower, brower JS code can check for brower compatibilities and spit out right markup code.
  • All browsers do not support XSL in a standard way. Can be quite a pain to make the look-n-feel compatible with all browsers.
  • Search engines/bots see raw XML, may not be able to interpret and understand.
  • Disables progressive rendering. User won't see anything at all until entire stylesheet and data is loaded completely.
  • XSL is pretty tough to master. Resource skill could become a potential bottleneck.
  • Could run into scalability issues for large XML payloads. When processing XML files, XSLT must load the entire document into memory.
IMHO, although XSLT processing in-browser is fast compared to server side, it is still better if no transformation is required at all. There are tons of server side web-frameworks that can do the job better and faster.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Open source API for read/write to Excel files

Long back, I had blogged about native APIs in .NET and Java to read/write Excel files.
Recently came across a new native .NET library that can be used to read/write Excel files and supports the binary BIFF format. This is the format used by Excel 2005 files - i.e. xls files. This API is still evolving and looks quite basic at this point of time. 
The code is available here:  http://code.google.com/p/excellibrary/
There is also a .NET port of the popular Apache POI library available at: http://code.google.com/p/npoi/

The new office (2007, 2010) documents  are based on XML standards (i.e. xlsx files). There are a couple of open source projects for creating and modifying 2007 'xlsx' excel files.
1) http://epplus.codeplex.com/
2) http://excelpackage.codeplex.com/