The thesaurus was loaded into Microsoft Access. It is called from Active Server Page (ASP) scripts using ODBC (open database connectivity). Each descriptor has its own record. Definitions, related terms, broader terms, and narrower terms are each in a memo field - each term delineated with a semi-colon. This provides for unique records and rapid look-up. We then parse the memo fields and create recursive links to provide the thesaurus.
The search strings are reformatted before being sent on to a search engine. This allows us to use the Wizard as a front end for any search engine on the web.
To save search strategies (frames version only), we pass a "cookie" to the end user. This is text that Netscape, Microsoft Explorer and some other browsers can accept and save on your computer. We use the cookie as a unique identifier based on the date and time (in milliseconds). At the same time, we enter the cookie and search string into a database on our server (a more common approach would have been to save the search string on your computer). When you go to save and retrieved search strategies, we check to see if the Wizard has left a cookie. If so, we look up and present the saved search. If you want to see your cookies and you use Netscape, look at cookies.txt in your Netscape program area. You will note that web software only knows you by this anonymous id that the software gave you.
We use 5 scripts. One for the no-frames version. For the frames version we use one script to generate the frames; one script for the search form frame; another for the thesaurus frame; and another for the save search strategy frame. Each frame is basically an independent browser client. We pass parameters from frame to frame when we refresh the entire screen. Thesaurus look-ups stay in the same frame to provide speed.
Finally, we log and save all outgoing search strings. This allows us to identify what patrons are interested in so we can better tailor our products and services.
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