What is a Data Droppable Website?
Websites which can accept data, typically through publication from automated sources - but sometimes manual, are droppable data websites. They are data-ready. They wait for information to be put into certain areas and will then incorporate this into the website content.
Most importantly, droppable means the content can be "dropped in" and "dropped out" - contrast this with most websites which, when we wish to migrate to a different platform, a huge amount of pain is incurred.
Thinking about Website Content Management Systems
Typically, website platforms run on Content Management Systems (CMS) where power users can manage content.
Benefits of Content Management Systems
- Less technical staff can maintain content
- Less need to involve developers to update information
- Able to change content without needing republication (common feature)
Negatives of Content Management Systems
- Still require a degree of knowledge to manage confidently.
- Brittle, untrained users can break much of a CMS without realising it.
- Time-consuming. A lot of time is spent taking information from one source and manually putting it into the CMS.
The key advantage of Data Droppable Websites (DDW)
The biggest advantage of Data Droppable Websites - large parts of the website can accept data and put that content in different parts of the website without user intervention. This makes the website replayable in terms of seeing the website change without significant intervention.
What is the best way to manage droppable data?
Good old FTP
We recommend a simple FTP folder on your webserver, with user access control. There are tools which expose FTP folders as a UNC, and finding writing an FTP publish/remove application is not that challenging.
For data content, this could be centrally created by your Business Intelligence/Management Information teams.
What about APIs?
Curiously, we are not so sure that exposing APIs is the best approach. APIs are ostensibly RESTful, meaning Representational State Transfer. Dynamic endpoints are not RESTful, there becomes the need for clients to conform to the server's demands. We see APIs as being "opinionated".
For our implementation, we will likely restrict the size of files, and potentially minor validation of the json structure, but the aim is to remain "unopinionated".
How does the security work?
It is simply a case of managing User Access Control to the relevant FTP folders. Nothing would prevent the creation of an API or Website GUI to permit manual uploading of data.
What are the risks of droppable data website approaches?
There are two main risks;
- Unsolicited content damaging the reputation of the website ethos.
- Injected content - exposing security vulnerabilities.
It is the duty of the owner/controller of the droppable data website to ensure only known content providers can publish to their platforms.
What are the main benefits of droppable data websites then?
We see the biggest win is the time it saves in getting content onto your platform. Whilst not removing the need to manage content and information, increasing the amount of new content available to your audience with less effort is a real benefit.
We cannot recommend enough looking into droppable data websites more.