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Presenting Statistical Data Using XML. Office for National Statistics, United Kingdom. Rob Hawkins, Application Development. Presenting Statistical Data Using XML. Supporting paper for MSIS 2005 Reference: CES/AC.71/2005/23 Mission Requirements and Examples Component Design The Future

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Presenting statistical data using xml

Presenting Statistical Data Using XML

Office for National Statistics, United Kingdom

Rob Hawkins, Application Development

Presenting statistical data using xml1
Presenting Statistical Data Using XML

Supporting paper for MSIS 2005

Reference: CES/AC.71/2005/23

  • Mission

  • Requirements and Examples

  • Component Design

  • The Future

  • Questions at the end please !


Develop a Java component, which

  • queries a large relational database (300 million statistical values and supporting metadata)

  • produces a variety of statistical outputs

  • enables a range of user interactions with the outputs

  • can be integrated into any Java-based web application

  • performs and scales well on busy public-facing web-sites

  • is flexible and extensible


Key customer: UK Neighbourhood Statistics Programme (NeSS)

  • Web-site to provide better information for neighbourhood renewal

    Also, build the component so that it can be re-used for other web projects

Requirements and examples3
Requirements and Examples

Print-friendly examples

Requirements and examples4
Requirements and Examples

Metadata Linking

  • Requirement to access contextual metadata from items in tables, charts, and maps

Requirements and examples5
Requirements and Examples

Neighbourhood Profiles (a report per area, with multiple outputs on same page)

Component design
Component Design

  • Simple API hides internal complexity

  • Internal re-design can be carried out without affecting the client-code

  • Written as a “framework” for re-use

  • Stateless and not dependent on web-site that uses it

  • Design is suited to being encapsulated by a Web Service

Use of xml and xslt
Use of XML and XSLT

  • Instead of building the output directly from relational database queries, we first create the results as XML

  • We then use XSLT transformations to convert the XML into the required form (HTML, CSV, SVG, etc)

  • Re-usability of the solution is improved by use of a common, multi-dimensional XML Schema

  • As long as XML conforming to the schema can be produced, any data source can be used, e.g. legacy sources

  • The entire process is dynamic, carried out when the web-site user clicks “go” – querying the database, building the XML, running the XSLT transformation

  • This is all run on the server – there is no transformation taking place on the client

Simplified design diagram
Simplified design diagram

Client code

Data Request

(What I want)

Common XML Schema

Data and Metadata

XRender Service Layer

Process Layer

Presentation Request

(How I want it)


Data and XML Cache


Presentation Rules (XSLT)

HTML table




Chart (URL)

XML Transformer





GIS Service


CSV, etc.

Re usable framework
Re-usable framework

“Plug-and-Play” Design

“Business” = Business-domain specific code and configuration – e.g. for NeSS requirements

Business Data Access Objects turn database queries into XML

Generic Objects Model and Build the Common XML Schema

Generic Utility Objects e.g. for Caching, automating the transformations, building charts

Generic XSLT chains

Business Configuration XML used to tailor the output

Business Data Sources & Stored Procedures

Business XSLT chains

Generic Process objects Coordinate the Transformations

Environmental configuration XML

Business Process Objects build the client response

Business API layer

Business Cascading Style Sheets

Business JavaScript

Performance and scalability
Performance and Scalability

  • High-volume public web-site – peaks at hundreds of concurrent user requests

  • Requirement to render most output within a couple of seconds as a worst-case average

  • Techniques used:

    • Oracle index tuning and query hints

    • Memory caches to minimise database access.

    • XSLTC (Pre-compiles XSLT scripts)

    • Balance and optimise the work done by Java and by XSLT

The future
The future

  • Further ongoing enhancements for NeSS

  • Re-use component on UK “National Statistics Online” web-sites

  • Share ideas (and code?) with other National Statistics Institutes ?

End of presentation
End of presentation

Any questions ?