Content Management using JSON feeds: dynamically add and manipulate content on your site

When I first discovered Zoho Creator, the idea of building a Web database that could be included in my own Web site sounded too good to be true. After a while, however, I found that I simply couldn’t get the content from my applications to display correctly for my site. I wanted more power to match the format of the content being displayed to my own site’s style. Using the standard iframe or javascript codes provided by Zoho Creator, the imported information simply wasn’t in the format I particularly wanted. Furthermore, I was disappointed that I couldn’t programmatically display certain information and hide other information.

Then, I discovered the power of JSON. According to Wikipedia, “JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) (Pronounced like Jason, IPA /d?e?s?n/) is a lightweight computer data interchange format. It is a text-based, human-readable format for representing simple data structures and associative arrays (called objects).” In simpler terms, the JSON feed from your Zoho Creator application is packaged into a single javascript variable. You can decipher the data from your application by parsing out the nested arrays. For a sample of the codes for parsing this information, please see below:

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Content Management using AjaxInclude: Pros and Cons

Custom-assemble your Web page from multiple files

In my last post, I introduced the idea of assembling your Web site from multiple files using a JavaScript version of AjaxInclude. Please note that this idea is primarily intended for people using Microsoft Office Live Basics, or some other Web-hosting service that does not allow them to use true server-side includes on their Web sites. AjaxInclude scripts (available from Dynamic Drive) are intended to provide the minimal functionality (from a user’s perspective) to mimic a true server-side include script. The techniques discussed in this post, however, can be applied to any Web page. If you aren’t familiar with ASP, PHP, or PERL programming, you can use AjaxInclude to build similar functionality into any Web site.

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New project: Content Management

I am currently working on a new content management system for Lockworld Herald. Although I am very pleased with Microsoft’s new “Office Live Basics” service, there is no doubt that the standard Web-building service is simply inadequate. There are far too many problems with the way the site is designed to build a professional-looking site using this service.

Scripting problems:

One of the biggest problems with Microsoft Office Live Basics (MOLB) is the inability to use “external” JavaScripts on your site. For my purposes, I am using the term “external JavaScript” to refer to any JavaScript codes that reside outside of the page being viewed…whether on your MOLB site or elsewhere on the Web. In my experience, almost all external JavaScript codes completely disable not only my MOLB site, but crash the entire browser. Since JavaScript is such a standard feature for Web sites, this is simply unacceptable.

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I’m off to see the wizard!

I have been invited to write for the Land of ZC blog (LoZC) by Pete Thomas, author of LoZC and ShareTactics, along with Alan Bradford, author of BigUglyCouch. As I mentioned in my last post, LoZC offers tips and tricks on everything Zoho Creatorish, and goes behind the scenes to interview Zoho Creator staffers.

I’m excited about this opportunity, and look forward to sharing my ideas with all of you Zoho fans on this blog.

That does not mean that I will abandon The Web for You, naturally. Although I will write for LoZC when I discover new features/capabilities of Zoho Creator, I will continue to write about Zoho Creator along with other free resources to help you build your Web presence free right here on The Web for You.

I look forward to working with Pete and Alan, and I hope you get the chance to check out their blogs – you’ll definitely find a wealth of knowledge about a wide variety of topics.

Thanks for the opportunity, Pete!

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