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The technology

  • Java library with custom MySQL and Postgres relational mapping
  • Website in Spring framework with JSP pages, in Tomcat app server
  • XSLT version of Facetmap, wrapped by PHP and ASP for use in those webservers
  • The story

    This was a solo product I developed mostly in 2001 and 2002 to demonstrate faceted classification. (Faceted classification is a kind of data markup that gives users more options in navigating the data. For more about that, see the original demo.) Basically, a user uploads or publishes her own classification, and Facetmap uses that to construct a web-based navigation interface for her data.

    It also serves a primitive HTTP API for third-party clients: Facetmap's XML responses could be parsed, or formatted with XSLT, for display by the third party. I was pretty happy when one of my users donated his XSLT back to me and I got to use it on the Facetmap site. (It's the "Nav Column" presentation style.)

    Facetmap fueled some contract work and I sold some licenses, but here are my points of more pride:

  • Various university courses use this product. Professors instruct their students to write a classification and submit it to Facetmap so it can be browsed. The students write me every so often -- usually asking me to troubleshoot something, but I like the communication anyway.
  • It led to my only speaking engagement to date. That was a lot of fun but I learned that I'm not going to make a career out of presentations. I spend too much time preparing them.
  • Cloud services feel natural now, but I published Facetmap such a long time ago that few people were willing to upload their data to a third-party hosted service. Salesforce and the term "SaaS" were only a year old and not well known, certainly not to me. So I count it as innovation. I take unjustified pride in innovating things which later prove to be popular, even when I had nothing to do with their popularity.