A little about me: Phil Malone.

I'm a veteran software engineer with twenty-five years of programming experience writing software for a wide range of devices, from video games, to under water-robots that explore five miles under the ocean's surface.

To capture the excitement, I took the internet plunge head first in the mid-1990s. Having decided to create a small site about underwater robots, using HTML, and having fun with it, I quickly realized that static HTML pages was not the right basis for large company websites. For years I'd been writing software to automate data processing, and here I was generating screens by hand. So I took a month off (after an excruciating 40-day project on a boat in Singapore) and learned all I could about the programs that run on web servers, to eliminate the need for manually generating and updating websites. My proving ground was a cool site for the Jazzercise community, and it includes many classic examples for Web Automation. This is still my favorite site, and it draws over 120,000 page views per week.

At this point I was hooked.

I quickly began to see the web as an entirely new form of communication, in which content and presentation are both critical, and must be maintained in a fine balance. Too much content and the viewer gets bored, too much presentation and the viewer gets frustrated. The only way to control the balance between Content and Presentation is to separate them into two distinct solutions. That's where the software engineering comes in. Programs written to run on your server can automate the functions of content generation, site updating and standardized visual presentation. So, if you're thinking of creating a website for your company or organization, you must ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your new site provide a large volume of information?
  • Do you want your site to be interactive (to engage the visitor, not just entertain them)?
  • Do you need to do regular updates?
  • Do you need to collect information from your visitors?
If any of these are true, don't just let someone start churning out HTML with a WYSIWYG design program. Consider storing the data on your server in its RAW form, and utilizing custom written software to update, search, summarize and present that information to the viewer.

Presentation and content can now be managed independently.