HR Guide to the Internet:
Compensation: On-Line Salary surveys: Implementing Web Technology

Implementing Web Technology
into Salary Surveys

The benefits of implementing Web technology are typically seen in several key areas:

Lower-cost of survey administration: One of the most compelling features of an Internet-based survey is its instant and near-zero cost of deployment. The survey applications can be accessed instantly worldwide, which significantly speeds the time it takes for the to survey to reach the participants. Accessed from a Web browser, these applications eliminate the time and cost typically associated with traditional survey questionnaires. The Internet offers additional advantages over diskette based survey administration in that file downloads are not required and Internet browsers are supported on many different computer platforms.

Streamlined data entry processes: Significant benefits are gained from distributed data entry. Survey participants have traditionally interacted with a salary survey by completing a printed survey questionnaire. Using the Internet for administration of the questionnaire, you are able to decentralize the data entry to the survey participants. These self-service applications significantly reduce the administrative overhead associated with collection and distribution of paper-based forms and information, data entry and data error, and lead to a higher level of data accuracy.

Understanding the Internet
using a Client/Server Model

The Client/Server model for computer systems is one in which a client computer interacts with a server. In the typical model, a server will process the requests for a large number of client computers. This model differs from the mainframe architecture in that within the client/server model, the client computers are capable of executing applications as requested by the user. In the mainframe architecture the computer terminals connected to the mainframe are not capable of executing applications on their own. Instead, they are simply 'dumb terminals' that display only information sent by the mainframe.

In the Client/Server model, servers send (i.e., serve) data and applications to the client computers. The Internet can be viewed as a large distributed computing environment with many similarities to the Client/Server model. The web 'server' sends to and receives data from 'client' web browsers. The Internet has millions of web servers.

The computer you are using to view this document is using software to browse documents on the Internet. Your computer becomes the 'client' in the Client/Server model. The web server which has sent this document to your browser is also processing the requests from dozens or hundreds of other client computers.

Web servers perform two basic functions: 1) transmit files as requested by client computers, and 2) execute computer programs stored on the web server as requested by client computers. Client computers may execute programs as requested by the computer user. Client computers also send data to, and display data received from, web servers.

Applications (i.e. computer programs) designed for the Web are typically developed for execution on either the Client or Server end of the Client/Server model. For example, a web based application may be developed as an application to run on a web server or may be developed as an application to run on the client web browser.

The environment in which the application runs presents some limitations, weaknesses, and strengths that need to be considered when choosing an application environment. This document will outline some of the characteristics of each application environment and provide working examples of the applications and explanations of how they were developed.

Components of the Web

Protocols: As described above, the Internet is made up of servers and clients. The information transmitted through the Internet must conform to one of several protocols. The most common protocol used for transmitting information to web server computers is known as the Common Gateway Interface (CGI). When developing a server application, you may need to implement the CGI protocol. NT Web servers use the Active Server Pages protocol (ASP).

Just as information transmitted to the server must conform to a protocol, the information transmitted from the server to the client must also match a protocol. This protocol requires that the 'content-type' and document standards be written as part of a header in any file sent to the client.

HTML: The information transmitted from the server to the client may contain plain text or codes that form the Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). This language was written to format documents sent through the Internet so that a document would appear similar in formatting even if viewed on different web browsers.

The HTML language has undergone several version changes. Later versions allow for embedded scripts (programs embedded within the HTML code) and pseudo-compiled programs (such as Java).

The end result of these technological advances is that you now have more choices when developing an on-line web based salary survey.


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