Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML 4 in 21 Days

Chapter 25: Putting Your Site Online




The last chapter for this term covers server related concepts. The objectives important to this chapter are:

  • the tasks performed by the server
  • finding a server to use
  • storing and updating files on a server

A server does several things that can also be done on the browser, and a few things that can't. For instance, the server runs the HTTPD program, the Hyptertext Transfer Protocol Daemon, that sits and waits for a browser to contact it and request a service. That service may be to deliver a web page or an external file to the requester. In order to provide a file, the server must be able to find files, and to provide error messages when it can't find files. The server also runs CGI (Common Gateway Interface) programs, which can be scripts to process user entered data or programs like hit counters. Servers also provide security through authentication and passwords, and can run firewall programs to keep intruders out of the system.

It is easy these days to find a web server where you can place your files. The first place you should look is on the server of the provider who sells or gives you Internet access. Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) include a few megabytes of space for web sites to all their clients. More space is available for additional charges.

While some people may have access to the Internet through school or work, it is not likely that those organizations will provide site space to you. It can't hurt to ask, just don't expect it.

Setting up your own server is a possibility for those with deep pockets or a limited audience. Inside a company running an IP network, it can be done easily. For a private individual, wanting to set up a commercial site, it would be better to consult an existing ISP before paying for a wide bandwidth phone line and the dedicated machine to serve the whole world. Along this line, some ISPs are now advertising server space for intranets, as well as general web servers. The market grows.

Things to ask a service provider, when setting up a web site:

  • path to your directory on the server: what do you connect to, and how do you navigate the interface?
  • exact URL to your site: without this, you can't lead people to your site
  • name the default index file on the server: usually index.html or home.html
  • what CGI scripts can be run on the server, if any
  • what are your limits on space and content?

When sending files from your home/personal system to the server, keep three things in mind:

  • Send all files in binary mode, if using File Transfer Protocol (FTP)- this always works, regardless of file type
  • Follow filename rules - use 8.3 if you will involve any DOS systems
  • Stay in lower case for file names - some methods of accessing files are confused by case differences
  • Avoid carriage returns and line feeds in your files - mistranslations are possible

Ms. Lemay provides an extensive section on announcing your site to the world. Remember that there are a lot of search engines, indexes and listings of interesting sites out there. It would pay to register with as many as you think might be used to search for your site (or one like it) if you want to be found. I have not done this for my site, since its appeal is limited to my students. Don't advertise on the whole web if you don't want hits from the whole web.

This concludes the notes for CS332, Advanced HTML Programming. Please review all these notes and the review documents for the final exam.