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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tracking the URL's used in the application and having the ability to modify them

Any software application would be using many URL's in them. For example, when you take a product, you could have the following URL's in the product:
- A link for the product's home page on the organization site
- Links for Help pages
- Links for Video tutorial
- Links for customer support
- Links for online pages where the workflow is a mix of desktop and online components
- A link where a customer can buy the product
- When the product used 3rd party components, the workflow may be pointing to 3rd party links

There are complications that come in because of the 3rd party links. For example, I have run into cases where the 3rd party component that we were using became like an orphan because the organization that had provided us the component became bankrupt and closed down (was not purchased by another organization, just shut down). In this case, the component still continued to work, but the link was no longer existing. However, the link was the last part of the workflow and there would be a percentage of the users who would still click on the link and thus run into a problem.
For this purpose, the policy that should be followed should be to ensure that all the links that are actually used in the application are redirect links, where the redirect happens on the servers of the organization and the target of the link can be modified. Doing it in such a way will ensure that even in the case of the above situation where the link for the 3rd party does not exist, the modification of the redirect URL can happen on the company server and point to an alternative workflow (such an alternative workflow could even mean just pointing out to the customers that because of business reasons, the final part of the workflow does not work any more and apologize for the same). This is better than being in a situation where the workflow leads to an error, since that makes the customers think that something is not working, and if the error is not rectified, they start wondering about why the organization is not correcting the error.
However, there is a lot of book-keeping that needs to happen for this. All these links, with the date of creation, the target destination and the person who created the links (and of course, any description of what the link was meant for) are essential pieces of information to capture. This ensures that in the future, if the person who created the link is no longer with the organization, the replacing person has a good amount of knowledge about these links.

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