• IE6, HTTPS and MS Office

    In CMS we have a software feature that allows users to export any screen in the application as an MS Office file (Word, Excel or PowerPoint). Recently we found out this feature didn't work very well for some Internet Explorer 6 users, so we had to tweak our implementation a bit.

    The basic technique we use to create MS Office files is to take our existing HTML screens and instruct the user's PC to open the files in MS Office. In the past, we told the PC to open the file in MS Office by setting the MIME type for the appropriate file type (e.g. application/ms-word for Microsoft Word). We found a technique that works better with IE6, HTTPS and MS Office is to set the Content-Type to application/x-download and set the Content-Disposition to attachment; filename=(filename here).

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  • Eliminating Session Timeouts

    This weekend, my mother told me about the trouble she had booking train tickets from Washington, DC to New York using Amtrak's online reservation system. She had to make the reservation three times because the first two times she took too long and the website timed out. As I listened to my mother's story, I felt proud because I knew she wouldn't have had the same problem if Spider Strategies wrote Amtrak's reservation system.

    The problem my mother experienced is a common one for web applications. Most web applications operate using the notion of a session which is used to store information about the user that is logged on and the activities he or she is performing in the application. The trouble is that the session is periodically erased to save memory on the server. When the session is erased, the user's work is lost. In my mother's case, her reservation was erased.

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  • Great Places To Work

    As Scott mentioned last month, Spider Strategies received an honorable mention for great places to work in Washingtonian magazine. The article is now up on Washingtonian's website, and you can read about Spider Strategies here.

  • Simplifying the Weighting Issue

    Possibly one of the most useful aspects of the CMS software is the ability to assign weights to any scorecard node, at any level of the scorecard tree. For any node in this tree, any number of subordinate nodes can play a role in determining the score of their parent. This allows users to emphasize the importance of certain higher priority items over others. When you have two very important objectives, such as "Produce many widgets" and "Keep cost low", chances are that the default weight of "1" (setting each of their weights equally, so 50% for each) would work just fine.

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  • We're a "Great Place to Work"

    Washingtonian magazine's annual "Great Places to Work" issue hit newsstands today, and we got an honorable mention. I haven't seen the article yet, but as soon as I do I'll post a copy here. For now, check out the press release for all the details.

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