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  • Question

  • User875171746 posted

    I am in the brainstorming stage of this project and would like some input on how best to achieve our requirements. We sell custom products on a custom made eCommerce web site built with ASP.NET 2.0. We are looking for a way to offer an extensive set of options to our customers and have a "design center" that will collect the option input from the user and show them a picture of the desired configuration. When the user is satisfied that is what they want, they will be able to submit the configuration to our middle-tier components as a variable set of options and option values.

    This would almost be a no-brainer except for the total combination of options is well into the millions which makes A) coming up with the product images and B) finding a way to load them that doesn't take forever quite a bit of a challenge.

    Fortunately, I have located a source that can build the (thousands of) desired images to the quality standard we need them using a 3D modeling program, and I could potentially automate the process of cutting and pasting sections of them to make the millions option combinations of images that I would need.

    However, the second hurdle "B" is not so easy to overcome. I have recently worked with a 3rd party shopping cart that uses Anthem AJAX (built for ASP.NET) to do a partial page update from the server to get the images one by one based on changing options on the page. While I can see this might be a solution, I am not very happy with the performance compared to using preloaded images that are swapped using javascript. Then again, preloading several million or even several thousand images (if I segmented some of the choices into different pages) to the browser cache to account for all of the possible combinations the user could choose on the page clearly isn't an option.

    So, I have come here to learn about technologies that could potentially accommodate my requirements:

    1. Must be a client-side technology that can load (or create) an image of the product based on the style, style variations, and color that the user selects. No visible postbacks!
    2. The options the user select may be entirely different depending on the style of the product. I think it would be easiest to segment the styles into a couple of hundred pages and then the options would not need to dynamically change when the user chooses a different style.
    3. The user input choices can be contained within the technology as long is there is a way to post them to my middle-tier .NET components when the user submits the page.
      1. If the user input controls are hosted outside of the technology, it must be able to respond to them when they change.
      2. If the technology contains the user input controls, it must also be able to accommodate a custom price calculation formula (for each style) or fire events to javascript and expose the controls so they can be used for the calculation.
    4. Must be compatible with a large number of browsers for use with eCommerce. However, since the product that the masses buy is already on a separate page from the design center, some fallout is acceptable.

    A few technologies that come to mind:

    1. ASP.NET AJAX - I know it could work, however with my limited experience with this technology, I don't know what my options are.
    2. Adobe Flash - I don't have any experience working with Flash, but from what I understand it could potentially be used to "morph" images using mathematical formulas. I also know it can potentially be used as a front end for .NET remoting, meaning the #2 requirement could potentially be satisfied. However, there may be other options using Flash I am not yet aware of.
    3. Silverlight - I am just guessing that Silverlight can be used for this. However, at this stage I don't completely know what Silverlight is or what it can be used for.
    4. CGI - From what I understand Google maps and other map web sites use this technology. I am guessing that there might be a way to generate the images using it, but don't even know where to start.

    Of course, there may be other technologies or even design approaches I haven't considered - any ideas would be welcomed. I will even consider other platforms if there are easier ways to achieve this. We will also port our application to a newer version of .NET if it makes a difference.

    At this stage I am just hoping for some people who have experience with a technology that can achieve the dynamic picture loading (or creation) to point me in the right direction so I can begin learning that technology instead of wasting time trying to learn them all.

     

    Saturday, May 8, 2010 7:19 AM

Answers

  • User-1704326042 posted

    Hello NightOwl,

    it's nice that you can actually share your thoughts, as these design issues we go through them every day or every other poject :)

    I have worked with .NET since 2003-2004, especially asp.net and now silverlight and BI. 

    The .NET framework is really rich in frameworks, tools, technologies, languages and so on; the tricky part is, knowing how to combine these technologies.

    We might have an application, using different frameworks for different modules, yet still on top of the .NET framework.

    In this case, it's the pros and cons of what you want to use based on your requirements that matters :

    In more details :

    For example, here's a website in which we design what we want before we obtain it :

    http://disney.go.com/princess

    http://disney.go.com/princess/#/ariel/ 

    In the above example, you can see that using the right technology applies so well, despite some difficulties integrating the collected data with the hosting application.

    With Silverlight, WCF, and ASP.NET, you generally have a great platform to avoid all of the difficulties of having your data in different formats.

    I hope this helps, as my goal is here is to share my experiences and ideas in designing modules with you.

    just to remember, nothing is absolute in architecture, it's all relative to the conditions of the project. If a specific architecture becomes imperative to apply, then it's applied and preserved in the form a framework :)

    Best Regards,


    • Marked as answer by Anonymous Thursday, October 7, 2021 12:00 AM
    Tuesday, May 11, 2010 4:35 AM

All replies

  • Tuesday, May 11, 2010 1:32 AM
  • User-1704326042 posted

    Hello NightOwl,

    it's nice that you can actually share your thoughts, as these design issues we go through them every day or every other poject :)

    I have worked with .NET since 2003-2004, especially asp.net and now silverlight and BI. 

    The .NET framework is really rich in frameworks, tools, technologies, languages and so on; the tricky part is, knowing how to combine these technologies.

    We might have an application, using different frameworks for different modules, yet still on top of the .NET framework.

    In this case, it's the pros and cons of what you want to use based on your requirements that matters :

    In more details :

    For example, here's a website in which we design what we want before we obtain it :

    http://disney.go.com/princess

    http://disney.go.com/princess/#/ariel/ 

    In the above example, you can see that using the right technology applies so well, despite some difficulties integrating the collected data with the hosting application.

    With Silverlight, WCF, and ASP.NET, you generally have a great platform to avoid all of the difficulties of having your data in different formats.

    I hope this helps, as my goal is here is to share my experiences and ideas in designing modules with you.

    just to remember, nothing is absolute in architecture, it's all relative to the conditions of the project. If a specific architecture becomes imperative to apply, then it's applied and preserved in the form a framework :)

    Best Regards,


    • Marked as answer by Anonymous Thursday, October 7, 2021 12:00 AM
    Tuesday, May 11, 2010 4:35 AM