Overview of Webflow and Pipeline Management
The Webflow and Pipeline are flexible mechanisms designed to help you manage both the presentation and business logic in your e-commerce Web site, without the need for advanced programming skills. This topic describes the high-level architecture of the Webflow and Pipeline, and provides preliminary information about how you can use these mechanisms to customize or extend the e-business site provided with the BEA WebLogic Commerce Server product.
This topic includes the following sections:
This separation between presentation and business logic is beneficial for a number of reasons, but most importantly, it is helpful from a customization/maintenance standpoint. Different people within your organization may perform different tasks, and may specialize in a particular area. Keeping the user interface separate from the business processes and the Java programming allows your development team to accomplish more in less time, and makes it easier for members of the team to focus on their areas of expertise or interest. For a description of typical roles, see Development Roles.
The six technologies previously described can best be understood as belonging to four categories: presentation, business logic, state maintenance, and flow of control.
HTML, JSP tags, and input processors consitute the presentation portion of the system. HTML is the display language understood by most browsers. JSP tags translate information from the Pipeline session to HTML, while input processors translate form data from HTML to the Pipeline session.
The Pipeline components containing pieces of business logic have no knowledge of HTML or any of the other presentation technologies. Instead, the Pipeline session maintains all of the conversational state in the system. Similarly, the Webflow governs the flow of control.
Figure 1-1 illustrates how the various technology categories interact to preserve the Commerce Server design model. Understanding this diagram is essential to understanding how to customize and extend the Webflow and Pipeline mechanisms.
Figure 1-1 Webflow and Pipeline High-level Architecture
As you learn more about the Webflow and Pipeline mechanisms, return to this architecture diagram. Each time you review the diagram, you will have a better understanding of the big picture.
This document is intended for the following audiences:
The BEA WebLogic Commerce Server product ships with a working e-commerce site that can easily be modified to meet your specific business requirements. Many modifications, such as changes to page layout and presentation, can be completed without any Java coding. It is expected that these changes will be performed by a commerce engineer/JSP content developer or a site administrator, who consults with a business analyst about business strategies. For information about how to customize the Webflow and Pipeline, see Customizing Webflow and Pipelines.
Some of the more complex modifications, such as adding a Pipeline component to use a different credit card authorization system, will require Java coding. It is expected that these changes will be performed by a Java/EJB programmer. For information about how to extend the Webflow and Pipeline, see Extending Webflow and Pipelines.
The Commerce Server also contains a few JSP tags specifically designed to work with the Webflow and Pipeline mechanisms. You will use these JSP tags regardless of whether you are customizing or extending the Webflow and Pipeline. For detailed information about how to use the Webflow and Pipeline JSP Tags, see Webflow and Pipeline JSP Tags.
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