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EAServer Provides Clear Evolutionary Path for Sierra Club

  • August 01 2002, 1:00am EDT

John Muir, a gifted inventor, scientist and noted naturalist with a passion for preserving America's remaining wild lands, cofounded the Sierra Club with 27 members in 1892. Today, with a membership of 700,000, the mission and passion survive undiminished. Sierra Club's Take Action Web site makes it easy for visitors to respond to current environmental alerts by sending fully composed e-mails, faxes or letters to empowered government officials.

Implementation Summary

For the Sierra Club, Sybase EAServer provided a clear evolutionary path from existing PowerBuilder-based applications to full Web-enabled applications. I was able to adapt portions of existing PowerBuilder logic to new EAServer nonvisual object components. Java servlets field incoming visitor requests and pass the information to the PowerBuilder components, which then make requests to the Adaptive Server Enterprise database. Servlets take the returned data structures and complete the Java server pages (JSPs). I also used Java servlets to look up visitor ZIP codes. A servlet submits a firm to an address verification vendor, and the corrected information is returned to the servlet which reformats the information and stores it in the visitor's record, ensuring any correspondence with the government will contain the correct address. PowerJ was used to develop all the Take Action servlets.

Being a nonprofit organization, EAServer's excellent performance in high-traffic situations on an inexpensive CPU was important. We needed the performance to get the job done. When we are talking about Internet applications, it has to be reasonable.

Practical Advice

The most difficult part of the project was getting people to agree on how it should behave and what it should look like. There are lobbyists in Washington, D.C. with a very detailed understanding of the issues. If they had it their way, you would have a hugely technical three-page tome which might turn everybody off. On the other side of things, there are relatively new people who are concerned with marketing and publicity. They wanted something really quick and pithy ­ something that would motivate people to get excited. Bringing together the people with the in- depth knowledge and the people who know something about how to motivate people was the key to success.

I would recommend using PowerBuilder components as opposed to enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs). There are quite a few reasons why this makes sense.

It's important to develop and maintain a close relationship with your technology vendor. When new challenges arose, having a tight relationship with Sybase enabled us to quickly resolve any issues. Other than that, I really would not have done anything differently. I think we made smart decisions and leveraged our technology well.


Take Action provides an efficient toolset for effective environmental activism. Perhaps a less tangible, but very powerful, long-term benefit of Take Action is helping to build a community unlike other communities on the Internet. By its very nature, the Sierra Club attracts passionate individuals, many of whom would be willing to champion a cause alone. Take Action and the Action Network campaigns use automation to harness and focus this diverse collection of motivated individuals into a cohesive force and give them a sense of communal identity. Members know their efforts are being exerted at the most effective leverage points and that they are not lone voices in a diminishing wilderness.

Sybase Enterprise Application Server (EAServer), Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE), Sybase PowerBuilder and PowerJ. Sybase EAServer is the most open application server to power e-business applications by providing uncompromising performance and secure enterprise Web services within an open-choice development and deployment environment. Only EAServer integrates J2EE 1.3, secure enterprise Web services as well as C/C++, PowerBuilder and COM for a complete e-business application framework.

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