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Practical Internet Groupware by Jon Udell

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Example 2: A Conferencing-Enabled Helpdesk Application

Despite the lengthy XML detour, this chapter is really about conference-enabled groupware. We’ve seen how to inject a docbase outline into an NNTP newsgroup, where it can serve as a framework for discussion and review. Now let’s try a variation on the theme. HelpDesk is a hybrid web/NNTP application that uses web techniques to populate and view a database of trouble tickets and uses a newsgroup to add a conferencing dimension to that database. Figure 9.7 shows the form used to open a trouble ticket.

Opening a trouble ticket

Figure 9-7. Opening a trouble ticket

The form’s handler creates a record in an SQL database, which can be inspected using the web-based viewer shown in Figure 9.8.

Viewing the ticket database

Figure 9-8. Viewing the ticket database

How does the form handler connect to the SQL database? It could use any of a number of conventional web-to-database techniques. We’ll look at one way to do web-to-SQL integration in Chapter 15. At issue here is how to use an NNTP server as a discussion component. We’ve already seen how a web form’s handler can inject messages into a newsgroup to create a framework for discussion. HelpDesk does that too. Figure 9.9 shows the newsgroup view that corresponds to the database shown in Figure 9.8.

Figure 9-9. Newsgroup view of the HelpDesk database ...

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