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The Case of Relatives and Absolutes
PlanetRobots, Inc., faced with the task of developing a website
for each of its two company divisions—PlanetRobot Home and
PlanetRobot Garden—decided to contract with two firms to get
the work done. RadWebDesign, a seemingly experienced firm, took
on the Home division's website and proceeded to write the site's
internal links using only URLs (after all, they're more complicated,
so they must be better). A less experienced, but well-schooled
firm, CorrectWebDesign, was tasked with PlanetRobot's Garden
site, and used relative paths for links between all the pages within
the site.
Just as both projects neared completion, PlanetRobots called with
an urgent message: “We've been sued for trademark infringement, so
we're changing our domain name to RobotsRUs. Our new web server
is going to be .” CorrectWebDesign made a
couple of small changes that took all of five minutes and was ready
for the site's unveiling at the RobotsRUs corporate headquarters.
RadWebDesign, on the other hand, worked until 4 a.m. to fix their
pages but luckily completed the work just in time for the unveiling.
However, during a demo at the unveiling, the horror of horrors
occurred: as the team leader for RadWebDesign demonstrated
the site, he clicked on a link that resulted in a “404—Page Not
Found” error. Displeased, the CEO of RobotsRUs suggested that
RadWebDesign might want to consider changing their name to
BadWebDesign and asked CorrectWebDesign if they were available
to consult on fixing the Home site.
What happened? How did RadWebDesign flub things
up so badly when all that changed was the name of
the web server?
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