SACEA: graphical interfaces

The following are tests on diverse client-side internet technologies for automatic interactive illustration of project descriptions received in textual format by the user's WWW navigator. It goes from the most static to the most interactive (but risky) tools, from the most server-side based to the most client-side based, from the most dependant on traffic speeds to the minimum traffic dependency.

This is a part of the SACEA project.

Frames: A frameset representing all Belgian environmental administration, from federal to regional level.
Belgian map: The demo of a concept of navigation through clickable maps and organigrams in order to illustrate projects and partners in a user-friendly manner.
Java, steps: The use of a Java applet in order to automatically illustrate the status of different steps within a project.
Javascript, steps: All the calculations and graphical representations of project status can be done at the client side using javascript and editable frames. The only gif image needed for all those graphics has only 1 pixel! The connection time is minimum for this graphical tool.
Java, organigrams: Here, we see a Java Applet able to build interactive organigrams out of textual information received as parameters.

Suggestion to html: send to the html discussion group. Work on html standard level can solve several SACEA problems related to vectorial images and clickable maps (the aim beeing to reduce the transmission of images in SACEA).
(MS-Word) document discussing automatic illustration on the WWW: client-side versus server-side, Java, JavaScript and both, rôle of agents and information kiosk.
(MS-Word) document (draft) proposing some parameters that should be received from the agent, in order to be able to illustrate the information automatically.

Provisional conclusion:

The most simple and standard html codes should be used. Advanced technologies such as Java should be used carefully for the moment because of its instability and because of the delays needed to download big Java applets.

For automatic illustration, as less as possible should be done at the server side, because of transmission delays of the images created. Only reference images (backgrounds maps and organigrams) should remain on the server.

At the client side, the use of simple html (including clickable maps) is prioritary. JavaScript can add (even graphical) value in order to diminish transmission time. Frames can give more browsability. The combination of frames and JavaScript can do most of the work within SACEA needs. Finally, Java will be necessary for the most advanced functions, preferably in conjunction with frames and especially JavaScript.

Server side applications and scripts are still the most popular on the internet. They are also the less transportable (from one server to another) and, for graphical applications, suffer from the restrictions of trafic speed.

last updated: 12/6/97
Author: Bruno Kestemont for Da Vinci Geomanagement sa