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From Alex Muc <alex....@utoronto.ca>
Subject jakarta website FAQ system and an alternative
Date Thu, 26 Oct 2000 23:11:58 GMT
Hi all,

I apologize for sending this message to two lists, but I wasn't sure
which would be more relevant.

I have been trying to access the FAQ-O-Matic from the jakarta.apache.org
site for the last few days without any luck.  It is always returning an
HTTP 500 error.  I don't know why this is happening.

Anyways, I'd like to offer the jakarta project another possibility for a
database-driven FAQ system.  I developed it over the summer in Geneva,
Switzerland and my employer said that he had no problem with me
open-sourcing the code.
The details of the system:
- It breaks down into two parts, a maintenance part and a browsing part.

- The maintenance part is written in JSP.
- The browsing part is written using XML and Cocoon.
- The FAQ is organized in a hierarchical structure so that the content
proceeds from general questions to progressively more detailed questions
the further "into" the tree you browse.  There is not limit to the depth
of the tree.
- The system is built so that it can accomodate multiple FAQs.  This is
like having multiple FAQ "trees".  So, for example, there could be a
tree for each of the projects on the jakarta.apache.org site.
- Each question has the ability to be linked to any other question in
the system.  This is important because sometimes the questions grouped
in one branch may have some logical connection to questions in some
other branch.
- The system has the ability to add questions dynamically.  That is, the
system allows anyone to post questions to the FAQ and these questions
then wait in a buffer to be answered by someone who knows the answer at
which point the question gets added to the tree.
- The system is fully XHTML compliant.  Which means that users can input
any valid XHTML markup and it will be properly displayed in the system.
This is handy for doing code examples and what-not.
- Because the browsing part is completely Cocoon based it can be
completely customized by using different .xsl stylesheets.  This is
handy if you want to have the same underlying system look different
depending on the area of the site and the website look and feel that it
has to "plug in to".
- There is a simple search engine to query the FAQ database.
- It runs on a simple database backend.  I've had the system up and
running on both a Microsoft SQL Server and a MySQL Server without any
problems.
- It was developed against Cocoon 1.7.4 and Tomcat 3.1, but I don't
think there is anything which ties it specifically to either of those
releases, so upgrading the server shouldn't be a problem.

If you'd like to check the system out I have a demo currently running.
It is accessible at the following URLs
Browsing: http://24.112.129.151:8080/faq/questionpage.xml?QID=1
Maintenance: http://24.112.129.151:8080/faqmaint
To login to the maintenance side of the system use the following:
username: root
password: root
email address: alex.muc@utoronto.ca
Web name: FAQ0
The first link will take you to an FAQ tree of about 250 questions which
is taken from the work I did.  I have setup another tree for testing
purposes, you can add a tree yourself if you want, and questions too.

So, if you're interested check it out.  Like I said at the beginning, if
people are interested I'd be happy to open source the whole thing.  I
also have some computing resources available which could be used to host
the project should that be necessary.

Cheers
Alex.


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