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Developing Web Information Systems

Article · January 2002

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Richard Vidgen David E. Avison


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Developing Web
Information Systems
Richard Vidgen
School of Management, University of Bath, Bath, UK

David Avison
ESSEC Business School, 95021 Cergy-Pontoise, France

Bob Wood
Information Systems Institute, University of Salford, Salford, UK

Trevor Wood-Harper
Information Systems Institute, University of Salford, Salford, UK

Butterworth Heinemann 2003


Contents
Preface xii
Chapter 1: Information System Development .......................... 1
1.1 Information systems and IT ............................................................................1
1.2 Information systems development methodologies ......................................3
1.3 Information systems development life-cycles...............................................4
1.3.1 Waterfall life-cycle .....................................................................................4
1.3.2 Problems with the waterfall life-cycle.....................................................5
1.3.3 Alternative life-cycles ................................................................................7
Evolutionary development............................................................................7
Iterative (rapid) application development ...................................................7
End-user development...................................................................................9
1.3.4 Prototyping .................................................................................................9
1.3.5 Agile Development....................................................................................9
1.4 Alternative strategies for information systems acquisition........................11
1.4.1 Packaged solutions ..................................................................................11
1.4.2 Outsourcing..............................................................................................11
1.4.3 Application service providers ................................................................11

Chapter 2: Internet-based Information Systems..................... 15


2.1 The Internet .....................................................................................................15
2.1.1 A brief history ..........................................................................................15
From ARPAnet to the Internet ..................................................................16
Internet browser wars ..................................................................................16
2.1.2 Internet statistics......................................................................................17
2.2 How the Internet works .................................................................................18
2.2.1 Internet protocols....................................................................................18
2.2.2 The worldwide web .................................................................................19
2.2.3 HyperText Markup Language (HTML)................................................21
2.2.4 Web site authoring tools.........................................................................22
2.2.5 Beyond the basics ....................................................................................22
2.2.6 Mobile Internet ........................................................................................23
2.3 Open source software development.............................................................23
2.3.1 The Linux phenomenon.........................................................................24
2.3.2 How OSS works ......................................................................................25
Why OSS works............................................................................................26
2.3.3 Implications of OSS for IS development.............................................26

Chapter 3: Web IS Development Methodology (WISDM).....29


3.1 Introduction .....................................................................................................29
3.2 WISDM in context: the Multiview approach to IS development ............29
3.2.1 Using the Multiview framework to guide methodology generation.31
3.3 The WISDM matrix ........................................................................................32
3.3.1 Organizational analysis............................................................................32
3.3.2 Work design..............................................................................................33
3.3.3 Information analysis................................................................................33
3.3.4 Technical design.......................................................................................33
3.3.5 Human computer interface design........................................................33
3.3.6 Moving around the methods matrix .....................................................33
3.4 The role of the analyst: multiple perspectives.............................................34
3.5 WISDM and the IS development life-cycle.................................................36
3.6 Is web IS development different? .................................................................36

Chapter 4: e-Business Strategy................................................ 41


4.1 Introduction .....................................................................................................41
4.2 Business models...............................................................................................43
4.3 Business webs for the theatre industry.........................................................43
4.3.1 Aggregation...............................................................................................46
4.3.2 Agora .........................................................................................................49
4.3.3 Value chain ...............................................................................................51
4.3.4 Alliance......................................................................................................53
4.4 Virtual communities........................................................................................55
4.5 Marketspace transformation and relationship capital ................................56

Chapter 5: Systems Thinking .................................................. 61


5.1 Introduction .....................................................................................................61
5.2 Difficulties and messes ...................................................................................61
5.3 Themes in systems thinking...........................................................................63
5.3.1 Systems and patterns of organization ...................................................63
5.3.2 Systems and emergent properties..........................................................65
5.3.3 Recursion and system hierarchies..........................................................65
5.3.4 Communication and control ..................................................................65
5.4 Thinking in loops ............................................................................................66
5.4.1 Feedback loops ........................................................................................68
Negative (or balancing) feedback ...............................................................68
Positive (or reinforcing) feedback ..............................................................70
5.4.2 Feedforward loops...................................................................................70
5.5 Patterns .............................................................................................................72
5.5.1 Limits to success ......................................................................................72
Leverage points .............................................................................................73
5.5.2 Fixes that fail ............................................................................................74
5.4.3 Success to the successful ........................................................................75
5.6 Mental models..................................................................................................76

Chapter 6: Soft Systems Methodology ....................................79


6.1 Introduction .....................................................................................................79
6.2 Hard and soft systems thinking.....................................................................80
6.2.1 Organizations ...........................................................................................80
6.2.2 Hard and soft traditions..........................................................................81
6.3 Soft systems methodology .............................................................................82
6.3.1 Exploring the problem situation ...........................................................83
Situation considered problematic [1] .........................................................83
Problem situation expressed [2]..................................................................84
6.3.2 Below the line: root definitions and conceptual models....................86
Root definition of relevant systems [3]......................................................86
Conceptual models [4] .................................................................................90
6.3.3 Back above the line: taking action in the problem situation .............93
Comparison of models with real world [5] ...............................................94
Evaluating change [6] and taking action [7]..............................................94
6.4 Beyond the basic form of SSM .....................................................................95
6.4.1 Using SSM to support IS Development...............................................96

Chapter 7: Designing for User Satisfaction ............................99


7.1 Introduction .....................................................................................................99
7.2 Sociotechnical design with ETHICS ......................................................... 101
7.2.1 Participation........................................................................................... 103
7.2.2 Job satisfaction...................................................................................... 103
7.2.3 Sociotechnical systems design process .............................................. 105
7.3 The Scandinavian tradition of participative design ................................. 109
7.3.1 Participative design principles............................................................. 110
7.3.2 The participative design process......................................................... 111
7.4 Web site quality – the customer perspective ............................................ 112
7.4.1 Web site quality..................................................................................... 112
Usability....................................................................................................... 113
Information quality.................................................................................... 114
Service interaction quality......................................................................... 114
7.4.2 The application of WebQual to online bookstores ......................... 115
Data collection ........................................................................................... 116
The results................................................................................................... 117
Interpretation of the results ..................................................................... 118

Chapter 8: Information Analysis ........................................... 123


8.1 Introduction .................................................................................................. 123
8.1.1 The theatre booking system ................................................................ 124
8.2 Information system modeling .................................................................... 125
8.2.1 Analysis and design............................................................................... 125
Structured systems analysis and design................................................... 126
Object-oriented analysis and design........................................................ 126
8.3 The unified modeling language (UML)..................................................... 126
8.3.1 Fundamentals of object-orientation................................................... 127
Objects ........................................................................................................ 127
Classes and instances................................................................................. 128
Encapsulation and communication by messages.................................. 128
Inheritance .................................................................................................. 129
Polymorphism ............................................................................................ 129
8.4 Requirements gathering and use case diagrams ....................................... 130
8.4.1 Requirements gathering ....................................................................... 130
8.4.2 Use case notation.................................................................................. 131
8.4.3 Extension, inclusion, and generalization........................................... 133
Extends ....................................................................................................... 133
Include......................................................................................................... 133
Generalization ............................................................................................ 133
8.4.4 Describing a use case ........................................................................... 134
8.5 Class diagrams............................................................................................... 134
8.5.1 Relationships: associations .................................................................. 137
Multiplicity .................................................................................................. 137
8.5.2 Attributes and operations .................................................................... 138
Attributes .................................................................................................... 138
Operations .................................................................................................. 139
8.5.3 Relationships: generalization............................................................... 139
8.5.4 Relationships: aggregation ................................................................... 140
8.5.5 The theatre booking system class model........................................... 141
8.5.6 Navigability............................................................................................ 143
8.5.7 Recursion ............................................................................................... 143
8.6 Interaction diagrams .................................................................................... 145
8.6.1 Sequence diagram ................................................................................. 146
8.6.2 Collaboration diagram.......................................................................... 148
8.7 State transition diagrams ............................................................................. 149
8.8 Activity diagrams .......................................................................................... 151

Chapter 9: Technical Design................................................. 155


9.1 Introduction .................................................................................................. 155
9.2 Information system design.......................................................................... 156
9.3 System design overview............................................................................... 157
9.3.1 Design constraints ................................................................................ 159
9.4 Logical database design ............................................................................... 160
9.4.1 Relational databases.............................................................................. 160
Primary keys ............................................................................................... 161
Relationships .............................................................................................. 162
Normalization ............................................................................................ 163
9.4.2 Moving from UML class model to relational schema..................... 164
Implementing many-to-many relationships........................................... 165
Implementing supertype and subtype classes........................................ 166
9.4.3 Theatre booking system database design .......................................... 168
Entity-relationship model......................................................................... 168
Entity and attribute list ............................................................................. 169
9.4.4 Object-oriented databases ................................................................... 172
Object-relational hybrids .......................................................................... 172
9.4.5 Physical design ...................................................................................... 172
Database transactions................................................................................ 172
9.5 Application design........................................................................................ 173
9.5.1 Sequence diagrams................................................................................ 174
User registration......................................................................................... 175
Payments..................................................................................................... 175
9.5.2 Seat reservations – locking strategy.................................................... 176
9.5.3 State transition diagrams...................................................................... 177
9.6 User interface design.................................................................................... 178
9.6.1 Page layout guidelines .......................................................................... 179
9.6.2 Navigation schemes.............................................................................. 182
Frames ......................................................................................................... 183

Chapter 10: Software System Construction ........................... 187


10.1 Introduction ................................................................................................ 187
10.2 Software implementation overview ......................................................... 188
10.3 Business data implementation .................................................................. 189
10.3.1 Defining tables .................................................................................... 190
10.3.2 Defining relationships........................................................................ 193
10.3.3 Subtypes ............................................................................................... 195
10.3.4 Populating the database ..................................................................... 195
10.3.5 SQL and queries ................................................................................. 196
10.4 Business logic.............................................................................................. 197
10.4.1 Using ColdFusion to publish a database on the Internet ............. 197
Queries and the three ANSI three-level architecture model............... 199
10.4.2 Developing ColdFusion components for the business logic ....... 200
10.4.3 State management............................................................................... 204
URL parameters and form fields............................................................. 205
Cookies........................................................................................................ 205
Session variables ........................................................................................ 206
10.4.4 Database transactions ........................................................................ 206
10.5 Presentation layer – the user interface .................................................... 206
10.5.1 DreamWeaver Templates.................................................................. 207
10.5.2 Style sheets........................................................................................... 208
10.5.3 Browser compatibility and bandwidth............................................. 209
10.6 Putting it all together – the complete application.................................. 210
10.7 Wireless application protocol (WAP)...................................................... 215
10.6.1 Generating wireless content with ColdFusion ............................... 216
10.8 Going live .................................................................................................... 218
10.8.1 Get a domain name ............................................................................ 218
10.8.2 Hosting options .................................................................................. 219
Host the site at an Internet Service Provider (ISP) .............................. 219
Co-host a server with an ISP ................................................................... 219
Host your own server................................................................................ 220
10.8.3 Promoting the site .............................................................................. 220
10.8.4 Monitoring the site ............................................................................. 221

Chapter 11: Web Information Management ......................... 223


11.1 Introduction ................................................................................................ 223
11.2 eXtensible Markup Language (XML)...................................................... 224
11.2.1 XML data definitions ......................................................................... 227
11.2.2 Displaying XML in a browser........................................................... 229
11.2.3 Time to ditch HTML? ....................................................................... 230
11.2.4 Business applications of XML.......................................................... 231
Intelligent searching .................................................................................. 231
Web automation for business to business transactions ....................... 231
Intranet development and knowledge management............................. 231
Delivery to different platforms................................................................ 231
11.2.5 XML and databases, XML and Java ................................................ 232
11.2.6 XML, web services, and .NET ......................................................... 233
11.3 Content management systems.................................................................. 234
11.3.1 Issues in web content management ................................................. 235
11.3.2 Genesis of web content management systems............................... 236
11.3.3 A web content management systems framework .......................... 238
Content life-cycle....................................................................................... 238
Organizational integration........................................................................ 238
CMS process management ....................................................................... 239
11.3.4 CMS illustration: Intranet development.......................................... 240
The CMS framework as a diagnostic tool.............................................. 241

Chapter 12: Reflections on WISDM ...................................... 245


12.1 Introduction ................................................................................................ 245
12.2 The Global Drinks case............................................................................. 245
12.2.1 The client organization in 1998 ........................................................ 245
12.2.2 The Global Drinks e-commerce project 1999–2001..................... 246
12.2.3 Outcomes of the intervention .......................................................... 246
12.3 Web IS Development methods................................................................ 247
12.3.1 Organizational analysis ...................................................................... 247
12.3.2 Information analysis........................................................................... 248
12.3.3 Work design......................................................................................... 248
12.3.4 Technical design ................................................................................. 249
12.4 Reflections on the case .............................................................................. 250
12.5 Methods and methodology in IS development...................................... 251

Appendix A: Barchester Playhouse Case Study.................... 255


A1 Introduction .................................................................................................. 255
A.1.1 The organization of the Playhouse.................................................... 256
A.2 Current box office operations ................................................................... 257
A.2.1 Current IT systems .............................................................................. 257
Processes and data supported by the current box office system........ 258
Issues with the current box office system.............................................. 258
A.3 Motivation for change ................................................................................ 258
A.3.1 Perceptions of the theatre .................................................................. 259
A.4 Requirements of the theatre booking system.......................................... 259
Theatre layout............................................................................................. 259
Theatre productions and performances ................................................. 260
Ticket prices ............................................................................................... 260
Ticket sales.................................................................................................. 261
A.4.1 Roles and attitudes of those involved in the analysis ..................... 261

Appendix B: Research Student Admissions Case Study ...... 263


B1 The current process...................................................................................... 263

Appendix C: Internet Resources ........................................... 267


C.1 WISDM......................................................................................................... 267
C.2 Development tools...................................................................................... 267
Tools required for the TicketManager application.................................... 267
Optional tools for the TicketManager application.................................... 268
C.3 Web design ................................................................................................... 269
C.4 Other useful sites......................................................................................... 269

Index ...................................................................................... 271

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