Business Desk Architecture
This section describes the architecture of Commerce Server Business Desk. The following diagram illustrates how a set of configuration files provides two important types of information needed for the Business Desk Framework to support navigation. The first type determines the set of categorized modules that will be accessible within Business Desk. The second type is used to build and manage the taskbar, which will probably be unique to each action page.
The diagram also illustrates how modules are typically designed such that their initial action page is a list page, from which edit pages may be accessed using task buttons. It also shows the typical design in which a user must return to the initial list page in order to move to a different module.
The choice of the HTML Component (HTC) shown in the various edit pages is purely arbitrary, though a master EditSheet HTC is generally used to contain any other editing controls. The ListSheet HTC is the most common HTC on list pages, sometimes accompanied by individual HTML controls and EditField HTCs in a find pane.
The ListSheet HTC provides a few different modes in which it operates, many of which are designed to accommodate hierarchical data. This often allows the use of a single list page, as opposed to multiple layers of nested list pages on different action pages.
There are three main points to the diagram. First, the master configuration file, together with a set of module configuration files, provides the information needed by the Business Desk Framework to manage both the navigation pane and the taskbar displayed on each action page.
The second point is that action pages that display read-only lists, known as list pages, are always displayed along with the navigation pane. This means that to move to a different module, the user must do so from a list page, not an edit page. List pages are read-only (with the exception of tasks like Delete and Import), which means that users will not generally need to be presented with warnings about leaving the module without having saved changes to data.
The third point is that navigation between action pages should typically be done through the task buttons on the taskbar. This mechanism allows the Business Desk Framework to provide services that occur during transition between action pages. Direct linking of action pages to buttons within a page should be minimized.
This section contains:
- Framework. Describes the services provided by the Business Desk Framework as well as the visual environment in which Business Desk displays the various Business Desk modules.
- HTML Application and the Client Installer. Describes how the Business Desk is normally run within the context of an HTA, and how the files necessary for this are downloaded to the client the first time Business Desk is invoked.
- Configuration Files. Describes how a number of files containing configuration information, specified using XML, provide the data that allows the Business Desk Framework to supply many of its services.
- Categories. Describes the notion of categories and how they are used to organize modules within Business Desk.
- Modules. Describes the composition of Business Desk modules, including their manifestation as ASP pages as well as how they make themselves known to the Business Desk Framework.
- Action Pages. Describes typical contents of the ASP pages that implement Business Desk actions, including information about special elements that all such pages should include, and provides an anatomy of such pages.
- Tasks. Describes the notion of a task within the Business Desk environment and how tasks are used as the mechanism through which Business Desk provides support for navigation within a particular module.
- HTML Components. Describes the use of HTML Components (HTC) within Business Desk, including how they provide a standardized mechanism for viewing and altering data.
- XMLHTTP Operations. Describes the functionality used by a list page to retrieve additional data for the ListSheet HTC without requiring the whole page to be re-rendered. This is an important enhancement that improves the performance of paging through large sets of data, or late loading of detailed data. Also describes framework routines for using XMLHTTP communication to enable saving without needing to reload the page.
- Security. Describes how the security mechanisms within Business Desk allow for restricting particular users to subsets of the available Business Desk modules.
- State Management. Describes the mechanisms available for preserving state on either the client or the server between the various action pages of Business Desk.
- Error Reporting. Describes the mechanisms available for reporting client and server errors to the Business Desk user.
- Online Help. Describes how the online Business Desk Help system is implemented and how online Help for new Business Desk modules can be integrated.
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