Figure 1.15 Home page index.html for The B2B Company in a web browser showing HTML source in text editor
Literally, data about data - a format describing the structure and content of data.
XML or eXtensible Markup Language
A standard for transferring structured data, unlike HTML which is purely presentational.
Text information and data - XML (Extensible Markup Language)
When the early version of HTML was designed by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, he based it on the existing standard for representation of documents. This standard was SGML, the Standard Generalised Markup Language which was ratified by the ISO in 1986. SGML uses tags to identify the different elements of a document such as title and chapters. HTML used a similar approach, for example the tag for title is <TITLE>. While HTML proved powerful in providing a standard method of displaying information that was easy to learn, it was purely presentational. It lacked the ability to describe the data on web pages. A metadata language providing data about data contained within pages would be much more powerful. These weaknesses have been acknowledged, and in an effort coordinated by the World Wide Web Consortium, the first XML or eXtensible Markup Language was produced in February 1998. This is also based on SGML. The key word describing XML is 'extensible'. This means that new markup tags can be created that facilitate the searching and exchange of information. For example, product information on a web page could use the XML tags <NAME>, <DESCRIPTION>, <COLOUR> and <PRICE>. The tags can effectively act as a standard set of database field descriptions so that data can be exchanged through B2B exchanges.
The importance of XML for data integration is indicated by its incorporation by Microsoft into its BizTalk server for B2B integration and the creation of the ebXML (electronic business XML) standard by their rival Sun Microsystems.
Graphical images (GIF, JPEG and PNG files)
A graphics format and compression algorithm best used for simple graphics.
JPEG (Joint Photographies Experts Group)
A graphics format and compression algorithm best used for photographs.
An add-on program to a web browser providing extra functionality such as animation.
Graphics produced by graphic designers or captured using digital cameras can be readily incorporated into web pages as images. GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) and JPEG (Joint Photographies Experts Group) refer to two standard file formats most commonly used to present images on web pages. GIF files are limited to 256 colours and are best used for small simple graphics, such as banner adverts, while JPEG is best used for larger images where image quality is important, such as photographs. Both formats use image compression technology to minimise the size of downloaded files. Portable Network Graphics is a patent and licence-free standard file format approved by the World Wide Web Consortium to replace the GIF file format.
Animated graphical information (GIFs and plug-ins)
GIF files can also be used for interactive banner adverts. Plug-ins are additional programs, sometimes referred to as 'helper applications', and work in association with the web browser to provide features not present in the basic web browser. The best-known plug-ins are probably that for Adobe Acrobat which is used to display documents in .pdf format (www.adobe.com) and the Macromedia Flash and Shockwave products for producing interactive graphics (www.macromedia.com).
Sound and video that can be experienced within a web browser before the whole clip is downloaded.
A collection of web services that facilitate certain behaviours online such as community participation and user-generated content, rating and tagging.
Traditionally sound and video or 'rich media' have been stored as the Microsoft standards .WMA and .AVI. Alternative standards are MP3 and MPEG. These formats are used on some web sites, but they are less appropriate for sites such as that of the BBC (www.bbc.co.uk), since the user would have to wait for the whole clip to download before hearing or viewing it. Streaming media are now used for many multimedia sites since they enable video or audio to start playing within a few seconds - it is not necessary for the whole file to be downloaded before it can be played. Formats for streaming media have been established by Real Networks (www.realnetworks.com).
Over its lifetime, many tools have been developed to help find, send and receive information across the Internet. Web browsers used to access the World Wide Web are the latest of these applications. These tools are summarised in Table 1.3. In this section we will briefly discuss the relevance of some of the more commonly used tools to the modern organisation. The other tools have either been superseded by the use of the World Wide Web or are of less relevance from a business perspective.
The application of the Internet for marketing in this book concentrates on the use of e-mail and the World Wide Web since these tools are now most commonly used by businesses for digital marketing. Many of the other tools such as IRC and newsgroups, which formerly needed special software to access them, are now available from the WWW.
Since 2004, the Web 2.0 concept has increased in prominence amongst web site owners and developers. The main technologies and principles of Web 2.0 have been explained in an influential article by Tim O'Reilly (O'Reilly, 2005). It is important to realise that Web 2.0 isn't a new web standard or a 'paradigm shift' as the name implies, rather it's an
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