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IMS5401 : Web-based Systems Development

Readings for the unit will be posted here from time to time during semester. There are three tables below: one is for books, the second is for articles and the third is for web sites. You should at least have a brief look at all of them, but you will need to be selective in deciding which ones you want to read in detail. Note that I have also included many web-based references in the tutorial exercises.

1. Books

Theme Author Title and publication details Comments
Web usability Nielsen, Jakob Designing Web Usability, New Riders, 2000 Nielsen is the great guru of web site usability. I don't always agree with him, but he is always interesting. Also check his web site (listed below)
Nielsen, Jakob & Tahir, Marie Homepage usability: 50 web sites de-constructed, New Riders, 2002 Uses the principles outlined in his web usability book to analyse the homepages of 50 major web sites. Very good examples of how to analyse a site (even if you don't always agree with his analysis!)
Web and Internet History Berners-Lee, Tim, & Fischetti, Mark Weaving the web: the original design and ultimate destiny of the world-wide web, harper Business, 2000 Interesting outline of how the web evolved from Berners-Lee's viewpoint. Also interesting to see where he thinks it could/should go
Wolff, Michael Burn rate, Orion, 1998 This book is a fascinating insight into the internet/web industry in the early-mid 1990s. The author ran a small publishing company which got involved in Internet/web publishing, and this describes his experiences.
Multimedia Vaughan, Tay Multimedia: making it work Very thorough guide to the general field of multimedia, with lots of good coverage of the specifically web-related aspects.
Web site architecture Rosenfeld Louis & Morville Peter Information Architecture for the world wide web, O'Reilly, 2002 Very thorough and easy-to-read introduction to the importance of creating an information architecture for web sites, and useful guidelines for how to do it
Web page design Flanders, Vincent & Willis, Michael Web pages that suck: Learn good design by looking at bad design, Sybex, 1998 These books try to show what good design is (and what good design principles should be) by demonstrating examples of bad design. They are very provocative and entertaining, but there is a lot of serious good ideas in them behind all the fun. If you don't like their style, you will hate the books, but if you do like their style, then you will find them very easy to read. Note the associated web site listed below.
Flanders, Vincent & Peters, Dean Son of web pages that suck: Learn good design by looking at bad design, Sybex, 2001
       
       
       

 

2. Articles

Topic Comments Resources
The Internet and the web For historical interest only: This is the original article (1945) by Vannevar Bush in which he described the need for new technologies to enable us to manage, link and retrieve related information. His description of a machine which he called a Memex is often regarded as the starting point for machine-based hypertext. His writing style and examples are a bit old-fashioned, but the ideas were very influential. Bush
Also mainly of historical interest. This is a short article summarising the state of the art in hypertext development in 1988 - just before Berner-Lee started promoting the web idea in CERN. Note that the basic ideas about a hypertext web of documents was already well-established, and lots of people were trying to develop systems (If you are interested you can get the whole issue from the digital library at the ACM web site at www.acm.org) Smith & Weiss

This is the original memo by Tim Berners-Lee to explain why CERN should set up a project to develop the web. It is essential reading, because it explains what he originally wanted the web to be.

Berners_Lee(1)
Another article by Berners-Lee a few years after he had started the web project and other people outside CERN had become involved. It gives a good summary of his developing ideas about the web as it was developing. Berners-Lee(2)
This paper makes an interesting comparison between the Internet/web and radio as means of communication. It describes how radio in its early days was an open, uncontrolled communication medium like the web is now, but this changed as time went on and it became more popular (and more powerful). Governments are already becoming concerned about their lack of control over the web; could they move to regulate and manage it as happened with radio? Hargittai et al
This short paper is a grim forecast of the possible fate of the web/internet if it is not better regulated. Huston
 

 

Data Communications This is the most recent of an on-going series of reports being done on the extent of broadband usage among Australian web users. Broadband Deployment
Multimedia This is a brief simple document which I wrote, describing how digital representation works - ie how text, graphics, etc are represented in bits in a computer Digital representation
Development methods These are a handful of articles on the nature of development processes for the web - ie rather than specific techniques, they are concerned about the overall pictue of how to go about web development. I think the best of them are the short one by Glass (which is heavily subjective) and the one by Taylor et al which examines industry practice

Glass

Taylor et al

Avison et al

Wrobleski et al

     
     
     
     
     
     
     

3. Web Sites

Theme
Web site address
This is essential visiting (but maybe you won't want to read too much!). It is the site of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which tries to set standards for the web. Most of the site is taken up by highly technical discussions and specifications of web standards, especially for mark-up languages, etc. These become very confusing very quickly unless you are right into the technology, but it is worth a look just to get some idea of the complexity of the technology. www.w3c.org
This is the web site of the Internet Society - a sort of Internet equivalent to the W3C. Its site is also not very exciting, but includes a lot of stuff on the technical features of the internet and their specifications. www.isoc.org
Everything, but especially usability. This is the site which Jakob Nielesen set up in the mid-90s and has been running ever since. Its main content is his weekly essays on aspects of web development and usage. They are short, dogmatic and sometimes contradictory, but they are usually interesting. www.useit.com
This on-line magazine has been going since the late 1990s which make sit a real veteran by web standards. It consists of a collection of articles about a wide range of aspects of web design, development and content. Lots of interesting ideas, opinions, etc www.alistapart.com
Another on-line magazine consisting of articles about web site architecture. Many terrific articles about specialised aspects of information architecture and site architecture www.boxesandarrows.com
Show examples of bad design in order to highlight and demonstrate what good design should be. Light-hearted, but with a serious message. www.websitesthatsuck.com
   

 

 
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