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Web Site FAQ

Create | Publish | Troubleshoot | Mailing a Form | CGI Scripts | Hit Counter | Password Protection | MS Frontpage

How do I create a Web Site?

The first thing you need for your web site is content. You can gather up text, pictures, sounds, even videos. Picking the right content for your web site is the first and most important step.

Once you have all of your content, you need to get it on your computer. Text can be in Word Documents, text files, or anytype of format that you like. You can scan in pictures and save them as JPG or GIF files for use on your web site.

Once all of your content is on the computer, you need to decide how you will present it on your web site. Most word processors (including Microsoft Word and Sun StarOffice) can convert documents directly into web pages (also known as HTML documents). You can also purchase or download a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor that creates HTML documents. Some products that we suggest are:

  • Microsoft FrontPage 2002
  • HoTMetaL Pro 6.0
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver
  • Adobe GoLive 5

    Another option is to open a text editor like NotePad (for Windows) or Pico (for Unix) and write directly in the HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) format. This is easier than most people think, and we really suggest that you give it a try. The O'Reilly books are helpful with learning HTML.

    Once all of your HTML documents are ready, you should collect them into one directory on your computer. All of your pictures, sounds, and videos should also be in that directory. Be sure that your document links are set correctly in that directory. Make sure not to refer to something on your C drive because it will not be available when you transfer the pages to our server. Double check that your links do not contain "C:\".

    Your start page, or home page, should be titled "index.html". This will be the first page that comes up when someone visits http://www.yourname.com. If you do not want to use the name "index.html", you can create a htaccess file which states the file that should be your index file. Create a file called ".htaccess" and put this line in it:

         DirectoryIndex filename.extension

    You should replace "filename.extension" with the name of the index file you want to use. Htaccess files can also be used for other things, such as rewriting the URL, setting up custom error messages, password protecting directories, and much more. We suggest you read the Apache Documentation for more information. When in doubt, ask us.

    Publishing your Web Page

    Once all of your files are ready, you need to publish them to the JTAN server you are on. Programs like FrontPage, HotMetal Pro, and Dreamweaver have publish buttons. The server name is http://www.yourname.com, and your username and password is the same username and password that was assigned to you when you got your account (unless you have changed it). In some programs "publish" may be called "FTP".

    If you don't have a built-in publish button in your program, or you want more control of the process of publishing, you should use FTP. FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, is a simple way to transfer files from one machine to another. You can use the DOS command "ftp", or you can download a Windows program which has a nice GUI interface for transferring files. Here are some FTP programs that we suggest:

  • AceFTP v2
  • WS FTP Le

    When using FTP, you should connect to the host "www.yourdomain.com" using the username and FTP password you were issued. ProWeb users with dedicated IP addresses can also use their IP address to connect. If you are having trouble logging in, be sure you are connecting to the right host, using the right username and password. Your FTP password is NOT usually the same as your members password.

    Once you have connected, ProWeb and ProShell customers upload your pages to the directory

    /home/username/public_html

    where "username" is the main account username you used to log in with. This is not usually the same as your domain name, although it may be similar.

    If you have a Webtrafix account on a Cobalt server, please upload to the

    /web

    directory instead. The process is slightly different and is explained here.

    ProWeb customers can setup extra FTP accounts in the Members Area which are restricted to specific directories in your account. These extra accounts can have their own usernames and passwords. Even if you don't have extra users, security can be enhanced if you setup an extra FTP account for your own use that is restricted to /home/username/public_html or some subdirectory of that. This way, if the password for this account should be stolen, it can easily be cancelled.

    Transferring your files to the server is easy, but it will be different from program to program. Make sure to upload your text files in "Ascii" mode and your pictures, sounds, and videos in "Binary" mode. If you are using a Windows GUI FTP program, they will most likely select the mode for you.

    Once everything is uploaded or published, you are done. You can now view your web site at:

         http://www.yourdomain.com

    Troubleshooting Web Pages

    Here are the most common mistakes by newbie web publishers:
    1. Uploading to the wrong directory
    2. Not naming the home page index.html
    3. Not uploading all the files needed for the site
    4. Using path names in links like C:\ that only make sense on a PC
    Be sure you are uploading to the right place and that you are uploading everything. By far, these are the most common mistakes. Most commonly forgotten are images located in some strange place on your PC. When the site is transferred without the pictures, you will see broken image icons on the site. Sometimes links will point to places or directories only available on a PC. Keep in mind that you must put everything needed for the page onto the JTAN server.

    Another common goof is not naming your page "index.html" and consequently not deleting or replacing an existing file of that name, or similar name. The symptom of this problem is that you still see the old site page displayed on your site even though you KNOW you uploaded a new site. Often people will upload an "index.htm" file and not realize that there is a "index.html" or index.shtml file already there. These are different names, but only one can be the index. Be sure to delete all the "imposters". If you are receiving an "Access Denied" error on your web pages, the permissions may be improperly set. To allow others to view your web pages, you'll need to have the proper permissions setup. Most Windows FTP programs show permissions as Owner/Group/World. Here is a small table that you should know:

    chmod 644
    Owner: Read, Write
    Group: Read
    World: Read

    chmod 755
    Owner: Read, Write, Execute
    Group: Read, Execute
    World: Read, Execute

    "Owner" is you, the owner of the files. "Group" is all of the other users on the system. "World" is anyone who is trying to look at your files via HTTP. Plaintext files, pictures, sounds, and graphics should all be chmod 644, or Owner Read, Write; Group Read; World Read. Scripts that should be executed should be chmod 755, or Owner Read, Write, Execute; Group Read, Execute; World Read, Execute. Directories should also be chmod 755. Our FTP server is setup to automatically setup the correct permissions, so if you don't mess with them, they should be correct.

    How do have a web form mailed to me?

    There are several ways to do this. One way is with the pre-written "FormMail" script from Matt's Script Archive, a good source of handy scripts. A perl script like FormMail needs to be pre-configured in a text editor before you can use it. You will need to edit it to add your domain and other information. Once you have it configured upload it to your account. Put it in the same directory as you will put the form. Once you have installed FormMail on your account, you need to create the form and link it to the FormMail program. Here is an example of some HTML code that uses te FormMail program to send an e-mail to Julia Thomas:

    <hr>
    <form action=FormMail.pl>
    <input type=hidden name="recipient" value="juliathomas@jtan.com">
    <input type=hidden name="subject" value="A Message To You">
    Whatever you type here will be mailed to Julia Thomas:<p>
    <textarea name=comment cols=50 rows=2></textarea><br>
    <input type=submit name=send value=Send>
    </form>
    <hr>
    

    Just copy that code into your page. Change the address and subject value before you use it, of course. You can add whatever input fields you need, and voila! You now have a form that mails. For more information on setting up FormMail and configuring it, please look here.

    How do I create a CGI Script?

    Creating a CGI script from scracth is not an easy task if you aren't a programmer. Even installing one that somebody else wrote can be tricky. Some documentation can be found at http://www.jtan.com/doc/apache/ Also, be sure to check out the many good CGI resources on the Net. A Yahoo search on CGI will give you a nice set of links to investigate. If you are really interested in learning Perl, we recommend "Programming Perl" by Larry Wall, Tom Christiansen & Randal L. Schwartz. It is published by O'Reilly

    Our servers are setup so that you can execute a CGI script from anywhere, not just in a cgi-bin directory. All you need to do is make sure that the file and directory is chmod 755, as we discussed earlier.

    All Perl (CGI) scripts must startoff the "Pound Bang" line. It looks like this:

         #! /usr/bin/perl

    If your script doesn't start that way, change it. It will fail with a "File not found" error if you have something else there.

    Sometimes scripts need to know the location of sendmail. This is usually /usr/sbin/sendmail but sometimes might be /usr/lib/sendmail. You can tell which one it is with the 'ls' command, or you can nag the "human ls command" -- another name for a JTAN administrator.

    If you are writing a CGI yourself, you should program defensively and accept responsibility. Be thorough. Never forget, you are PROGRAMMING A COMPUTER, a science that some people get PhD's for studying. Be careful. You are allowing total strangers to run a program on our shared machine.

    If you are running somebody else's CGI, you should never forget that most CGI authors don't program defensively or accept responsibility. They are never thorough. They think they are playing a video game, but in fact are PROGRAMMING A COMPUTER, a science that some people get PhD's for studying. Be careful. You are allowing total strangers to run a program on our shared machine that other total strangers have written.

    Finally, take a look at the error_log when you are having trouble. It can be found in /home/yourname/weblogs or in /usr/local/etc/httpd/logs, or maybe even /var/logs/httpd. These are very valuable for debugging CGI scripts. You can use the Unix command:

         tail -f /home/yourname/weblogs/error_log

    in a SSH windows while you hit the page with your browser. This will display any error messages that arise. Keep an editor open to fix the script in a third window. This is a good way to debug CGI scripts.

    A classic CGI error is "Unexpected End of Script Headers", or something similar. In fancy words it means your script crashed and burned. This usually goes along with the infamous "Internal Server Error" page. Take heart. Many a good webmaster before you has seen these screens. Good luck.

    How do I add a hit counter to my page?

    If you want to let people who are coming to your web site see how many other people came to your web site, you can add a hit counter. All you need to do to add a hitcounter to your web page is insert the following tab in your page:

         <IMG SRC="http://www.jtan.com/cgi-bin/nph-count?link=yournamehere">

    Please change "yournamehere" to something unique (like your user name!) If you do it right you should see something like this:

    Or if your site is real busy, this:

    To learn more about the capabilities of our counter, please look at the the documentation.

    How do I password protect a web site?

    There are many ways to password protect a site. No single one of these is best for everybody. Security issues can be complex and require consideration of the details of your particular application.

    Here we describe just one possible way, called "Basic Authentication".

    1. Create a file named .htaccess in the web directory you want to protect. This is easiest to do directly in the shell with a unix editor.
    2. Put the following lines in that file:
          AuthType Basic
          AuthName "Some Name Here in Quotes"
          AuthUserFile /home/username/passwords
          <Limit GET POST>
          require valid-user
          </Limit>
      Remember to replace username in the text above with your real JTAN username. The AuthUserFile path can be anywhere in your home directory, but it should not be anywhere within public_html.
    3. Create the /home/username/passwords file with the htpasswd command.
        htpasswd -c /home/username/passwords  firstusername
      Where "firstusername" is the first username for access to the site. The command will then prompt you for the password and encode it in the file. If you want to add more users, just run htpasswd again without the -c switch.

    Using Microsoft FrontPage

    Some customers prefer to use Microsoft FrontPage to publish their web site. We will gladly install FrontPage Extensions for ProWeb users so they can fully take advantage of the features that FrontPage has. We can also setup Subwebs for users who need them.

    If you have any questions about operating the FrontPage software, please ask Microsoft. Unfortunately we cannot help you use the editor, but we can help you if you are having difficulties with the extensions. Please direct any FrontPage questions to our tech support department.

     


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