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Product Details Elestore

Feature overview

Elestore administrates and stores all the content of product catalogs, data sheets and similar publications for use in various media, particularly for paper, e-paper and HTML with special focus on paper and e-paper. Elestore closely communicates and co-operates with Elepub, the Object Database Publishing System, and provides the data, which is formatted and visualized by Elepub.

Application and Data Server

Elestore was designed to act as both an Application Server as well as a Data Server. As Data Server it can serve up so called Master Data to existing systems. Master Data in Elestore can be presented and served as relational structures, which can be accessed using relational methods like SQL or ODBC. The object structures contained and managed by Elestore can optionally be accessed via CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture), via an API or can be written out to XML structures.

Integration with existing systems

Data objects administrated by Elestore can remain physically stored in existing external databases. This avoids data redundancy and makes data in ERP and other databases logically accessible to Elestore without the need to physically import it. Still, Elestore and Elepub view such data similar to data stored internally.

Object oriented storage

Elestore administrates different types of data objects of arbitrary, dynamic and changing complexity. This is why Elestore was designed as a fully object-oriented system. The object-oriented nature is hidden from the user wherever it makes sense and where it is possible while in some cases such as for data inheritance the object-oriented features are voluntarily made known and available to the user to profit from them.

Objects can also be imported from relational databases and exported to relational databases combining the advantages of both object-orientation and conventional relational systems.

Data inheritance

Data inheritance avoids data redundancy and substantially eases the maintenance of major data objects. Therefore, Elestore provides data inheritance through the use of "mother objects", which act as templates providing default attributes and values to its children objects, which inherit from their mother all those attributes and values for which they do not (need to) provide their own values.

Data objects

Attributes and AttributeSets

There is a very large collection of different pre-defined attributes (fields), from which articles can be composed. AttributeSets are collections of such attributes, which are typically assigned to mother article objects. AttributeSets can be composed from an arbitrary collection of attributes (fields).

To create an attribute set the user simply selects any number of existing attributes and creates the set. Article objects and especially mother objects are then assigned to such attribute sets and thereby they inherit all attributes as defined in the particular set.

Article objects

Overview

Article objects are composed from many different data objects (fields) of different types some of which are stored as independent object instances. Attributes (fields) of article objects typically vary from article to article, therefore Elestore supports different collections of article attributes called AttributeSets.

Articles types

Elestore differentiates between different article types having different purposes and behavior. "Mother articles" act as templates and inherit their attributes and values to real articles, which are identical in most aspects and differ only in a few attributes such as technical details, dimensions, price, stock etc.

Standard attributes

Article objects come with a very comprehensive set of predefined attributes (fields) especially supporting different types of article numbers and many technical, date and commercial data fields. These standard attributes are common to all article types and can be enhanced by the user through AttributeSets.

AttributeSets

Each article object can be linked to an AttributeSet and thereby receive its own set of attributes (fields) extending the already comprehensive standard attributes. Typically, this is done for mother articles only, which then inherit their AttributeSet to their children articles.

Grouping and classification systems

Article objects can be linked to one or more grouping systems, which are used for classifying and selecting articles. Each grouping system is a multi-level tree created and edited by the user to order (group) articles under different aspects. Existing company specific and/or industry standard grouping and classification systems are also supported and existing grouping trees can be imported.

Virtual data objects

Article objects can partially consist of virtual data objects (fields), which are only logically administrated in Elestore without any physical value stored inside Elestore. This allows for a smooth integration of data that should remain in its original database system, and be used by Elestore without any replication. From the internal view of Elestore (and thereby also of Elepub) virtual data objects are handled similar to normal attributes stored inside Elestore although their values are accessed from the external source (database). This is Elestore's alternative for using external data without creating copies of it.

Article views

The complex article data stored in Elestore can be viewed and inspected in many different ways and forms. Special purpose views facilitate the viewing, selection and inspection of multi-lingual text objects. For easy translation the different languages can also be presented side by side or in table views.

Text objects

Overview

Text objects are formatted and multi-lingual long texts. Text objects are of two different types:

  • autonomous text objects for multiple use or as re-usable part of other objects (articles, images)
  • and dependent text objects, which are used only as a logical part of one other object (article, image).

Dependent text objects

Dependent text objects are logically an integral part of one other object of another class such as article or image. These text objects are automatically administrated by their host objects and used only as part of their host object.

Autonomous text objects

These text objects represent re-usable text entities, which are used autonomously and/or as part of several other objects. Autonomous objects can be used by several other objects of different types (articles, images). This avoids data redundancy where texts are used by different objects or for different purposes (Elepub).

Language variants

Each text object can consist of several language variants. When accessing text objects they answer their currently selected language variant. Therefore, whenever text objects are used there is typically no need to define a specific language variant. This feature of Elestore enables Elepub to automatically switch entire publications from one language to another by simply changing one central language selection setting.

Storage of text objects in XML structures

Text objects are stored in XML format together with all knows formatting attributes. Text objects can be exported to ASCII or RTF format.

RTF formatting

Text objects are edited in an RTF editor supporting all major RTF attributes. RTF text formatting attributes are stored as part of the XML text structure.

Image objects

Overview

Elestore comprises a basic image database making all needed images available both to article objects and as autonomous objects not only but primarily for use in Elepub. Similar to text objects, image objects can be stored in different variants, i.e. formats, resolutions and views. Also similar to text objects there are:

  • autonomous image objects for arbitrary stand-alone use or as re-usable part of other objects
  • and dependent image objects, which are used only as a logical part of one other object (article).

Image storage

Images remain physically stored directly in the file system and are only referenced from Elestore so that they remain physically accessible in the usual way without any need for import or export.

Object sequences

Sequences are arbitrary collections of different object types such as articles, texts and images. Sequences define the order, in which these objects are to be published in chapters, sections and on pages etc.

Sequences are made up of sequence items, each of which points to a specific data object of different type. Sequence items can also hold a sub-sequence defining objects, which are dependent to the top level item. This is how Elestore answers sequences of different logically dependent objects particularly for Elepub, which uses such sub-sequences for creating frame groups or tables of dependent objects.

Relation objects

Relation objects create logical connections between objects of different or of the same object type (class). There are many different types of relations some of which are qualified by a qualifier attribute, which is typically selected by the user. In most cases relation objects are hidden from the user and used to create dependencies between objects. As for the storage of relation objects Elestore and Elepub create one unified system where relations between data objects in Elestore and publication objects in Elepub such as pages, frames etc. are established and used.

Object import and export

Import

All major object types can be imported from ASCII files or from an ODBC database. The data import process can create new objects and/or overwrite given attributes of existing objects (partial import as update).

Accessing foreign databases

There are three ways of accessing external databases:

  • via ExternalVirtualLinks physically connecting an article attribute to a data field of an external database
  • via ODBC to import from external databases
  • via ODBC to export to external databases.

Export

All user data objects can be exported to ASCII files or to ODBC databases. For exporting data the object-oriented structures inherent to Elestore are transformed into relational structures so that conventional relational systems are fully supported.

XML support

For most major object types, namely for article and text objects, Elestore fully supports XML for import and export (in case of text objects XML is even used for the internal storage as described in section text objects).

General requirements

Running the Elestore software requires:

PC hardware: min. 1.300 MHz processor, 512 MB RAM, min. 300 MB free disk space
17" or 19" monitor with a resolution of 1.024 x 768 pixels
Operating system: Windows 2000, XP or NT 3.x or 4.x or newer