A Data-Centric Approach, Professional Website

From the beginning, I envisioned our service would be built with a data intensive backbone – meaning our databases would play a major role in all facets of our service. Our approach was to build interrelated MS SQL databases that could easily be accessed by SQL queries, procedures, and functions across many different platforms; it was also clear that our professional website service would not only be accessed as a website on a computer but also as a website or app on  mobile devices such as a mobile phone or tablet. There are many advantages with our adoption of a data-centric approach, including:

  • Accessibility from various platforms and devices
  • Flexibility to create apps
  • Interchangeability with templates and page layouts
  • Searchability from internal and external sources
  • More comprehensive, yet efficient way to store information
  • Capability of outputting various types of files, XML or PDF resume
  • Connectivity with support channels, GroupShare
  • Adaptable for all different types of templates, which act as “skins”

Essentially all possible platforms and devices can connect and read data from a MS SQL Server database; in addition our native ASP .Net environment can serve content to most platforms. A XML file may have to be created as a conduit file for some platforms – like a Java app for Droid – though this is an easy transition from data stored in a database.

We have already created a few applications that take advantage of the data stored in databases. For example, we have created a timeline application that shows a professional’s experiences, body of work, and communications over a period of time. These applications draw from data already collected from your professional website and convert it into highly functional content – without any further effort spent by you.

Our data-centric approach makes it easy to change between templates. Barring  possible changes to fonts and colors, you can change from one template to another with a click of a button. Let’s say you are a recent college graduate and had a template with your university colors and logos. You spent a few years building your professional website and now you are ready to change your template. Simply select from our collection of templates and  the change will be made instantaneous. Your database remains intact as you switch between templates.

You can easily change back and forth between page layouts without having to make modifications to your content. For example, perhaps you want to have a tabular layout of your employment experience while you are seeking employment and once you are employed want to have a page layout. Simply toggle between layouts and the same data will populate the page.

We have built an internal search mechanism based on the data collected in our databases. The tables within our databases are interconnected making searches more effective, while providing richer content in the resulting table. You can search on a particular skill and get a results page displaying when that skill was used in employment, educational, and other experiences. In addition, our data-centric approach makes our service more integrated for external web applications – such as a job search board.

We would like for you to keep your professional website throughout your career, so as you can continually add more content, it acts as a repository of all your professional content. If content becomes outdated or irrelevant, you can simply hide it from view (perhaps you will apply for a security clearance or background check where it could be useful at a later time, however).

With our data-centric approach, it is possible to output various types of documents – like a PDF or XML resume – without having to make any further modifications. The resume content will be populated from the data collected from your professional website.

GroupShare, where you can connect with your support channels for peer-reviews, depends on our data-centric approach. Interconnectivity, communication features require data being shared accross different interfaces.

As we develop new templates, we will have more flexibility because of our data-centric approach. If you consider a template like a “skin”, there are almost limitless ways we can develop it. A data-centric approach gives us the opportunity to create a “next generation” of templates in the future.

TheProfessionalWebsite provides a data-centric approach to building your personal professional website.

An alternative to the data-centric approach might be where everything is stored on a page as a control and you design and develop each page. You have more latitude in the development of the page, but since there is no preconceived framework (such as a resume), it is difficult to build a relational-based database; to improve searchability, you can add “tags” and categorize the elements. Many of the “build your own” website services use this type of approach.

We use this alternative approach with our “custom pages” interface  for two reasons. First, it is impossible to cover all the possible content a professional might want to put on their website. Second, with our early beta testers, we discovered some mid-career professionals wanted to sacrifice the benefits of a data-centric page for complete control over the style, layout, content, and aesthetics of the page.

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