Setting-up a Web Presence

© 2004, Brad Moore

author contact:

http://www.freewebs.com/lb-connection

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Introdcution

So, you have written your latest, greatest Liberty Basic program, and you want to get it out there on the web and share it with the world. If you are a bit confused about what to do next, here comes the definitive guide to publishing on the web. This article relies heavily on various web sources and is more of a road map to get you where you need to go.

Let's look at the stuff you are going to need:

Creating Websites, Quick Start:

Everyone wants to get right into it, so here a great place to start: Mozilla Suite, which comes with Composer. Composer is a top notch WYSIWYG website creation tool. It is perfect for the first time web wrangler to get a site put together. Download the Mozilla suite here:

[http://www.mozilla.org/products/mozilla1.x/]

To get you off and going, you will some guidance on getting a website put together. A great tutorial that covers the basics of working with Composer is just a click away. Grab it off the web and be on your way to creating your first website, once you have downloaded Mozilla and installed it. The tutorial is here:

[http://www.thesitewizard.com/gettingstarted/mozillacomposer1.shtml]

Planning that Website:

Getting a site together is often more than just throwing a few words and a couple links onto a blank page and hoping people will come and use it. It takes planning, strategy and good design to be successful. "WEBalley" has tutorials, examples and links to tools. It concentrates more on the classic web development techniques of hand coding your site, but much of the information applies no matter what tool you choose to build your site. Check it out here:

[http://www.weballey.net/]

"Web Authoring that Works" is a fantastic web development site that is as good as a book. This site specializes in the soft side of web design - what makes a good website, not how to code the website. Here is what the authors say about their site:

what makes a Web page/site effective;
how the Web differs from print media;
to recognize and correct common design mistakes;
how to write more effectively for the Web;
how to organize material for the Web;
examples of good Web design; and
about other resources you can use.

I can not recommend this site enough - check them out here:

[http://www.umext.maine.edu/webauthor/intro.htm]

Although aimed at the business audience, this next site encompasses the entire process of developing for the web, publishing, bringing in people - along with insights into getting help, advanced design and much more. There are a lot of really great ideas here for anyone aiming to set up a space on the web, whether commercial in nature or just for fun. Go here to get the skinny:

[http://www.learnthenet.com/english/section/webpubl.html]

The tutorial at "webRightNow" is, for the most part, filled with good information that spans the entire spectrum of the subject matter of web publishing - from the first thoughts of "I need a website" through choosing a host, to creating content (the website itself). One thing to remember is that the site is aimed at selling hosting services on their partner site, and has a slight spin in that direction. Considering this, the content is very, very good and well worth reading. They suggest many things to consider when selecting a host, and the site development information is good and well presented. They are on the web at:

[http://www.webrightnow.com/articles/news/detail/28-news.html]

"webRightNow" also features a very nice, very in depth set of articles focusing strictly on beginning to learn HTML. Although I like to create my websites with a WYSIWYG style web editor, this is another great way to get your website off the ground. The tutorial is available here:

[http://www.webrightnow.com/tutorials/34-10-1.html]

Also note, while visiting "webRightNow", that they feature additional articles about themes, using fonts, drawing people to your site, search engines and more. This is a rich site with a lot of content for the "would be" web publisher. See it all here:

[http://www.webrightnow.com/articles_tutorials.php]

There are so many really great resources out there for learning to create web pages. This is one that has been in continuous development since 1994. It takes the user through the process of creating a website about volcanoes (can anyone say Mount St. Helens?) in native HTML code. This site deals with design and coding and leaves the less tangible items (like: hosting, usability, organization, promotion, etc) to others. The content is aimed at educators, and is fantastic. What is more, the entire tutorial can be downloaded onto your computer and completed off-line. There is an easy to print version too. If you plan to create interesting websites using HTML you owe it to yourself to take a look at this offering:

[http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/tut/index.html]

Let me mention one more resource (there are literally hundreds out there) for learning to code in HTML. This is a free downloadable ebook on the subject. I have read this book, and it is pretty good, developing from basically no knowledge of HTML and finishing with thorough coverage of tables. The ebook is in pdf format. The author summarizes the contents like this:

  • HTML code headers, Title, HTML Web page body, Background color, Background image
  • Text Formatting, Text style, Nested Tags, Fixed width font, Font size and face, Text color
  • Line Breaks, Paragraphs, Paragraph alignments, Images in web page
  • Text links, Image links, Email links, Lists, Horizontal Separator Rule
  • Drawing a table, Table sizes, Alignment in table cells, Images in table cells
  • Cell Width, Cell padding, Cell spacing, Tables and images, Graphic editing programs
  • Table background color, Column Span, Row Span, Nested Tables
  • Includes all example web pages and html source codes

As a free resource it is well worth the few seconds to download. It does feature a prominent add at the head of each section telling about a paid email course for advanced web design. Get the ebook here:

[http://www.learnem.com/freebooks.html]

Wisdom for Webmasters:

So you know a bit about putting together, creating a strategy and publishing your webpage. You might even be comfortable with HTML, but are you committing major design errors? Good design is just as important as the actual production. What to build and how it should look, not to mention - what to do and not do when creating your website.

There are several pages that offer sage advice to would be web-wranglers. Here is a short list of my favorites:

Ten tips for Webmasters has to lead my list. Everyone who publishes should see this:

[http://www.cyberbee.com/master.html]

Legal concerns extend into the ether - trust me. Copyright is one of the biggies. This site has Ten Tips for Webmasters concerning publishing content that is not your own. It should be required reading for every website creator:

[http://www.nolo.com/lawcenter]

The title if this site pretty much says it all - Art and the Zen of web sites What a fantastic site of page after page (after page…) of things to consider when creating your web site. It is packed full of wise bits of information that no web publisher should miss. This one too should be required reading for anyone coming to the web for the first time. What's more, it is funny - studded with humorous little quotes throughout the many pages - such as this one:

"Text may be a very rich medium, but it looks boring on the screen. It doesn't flash and hop about, so it had to give way to things that did." - Douglas Adams

Don't miss this site!

[http://www.tlc-systems.com/webtips.html]

Tools:

Tools are an important part of creating web pages - luckily you do not need to spend a lot of money to get a good tool set together. You can, in fact, create nearly any page with a simple editor like notepad, although this is the hard way to go. You may appreciate some of the more advanced tools that are tailored to web page creation. I have put together a short round up of mostly freeware applications that you can use to do the job.

1st Page 2000, version 2.0 - a dedicated HTML editor that is streamlined to create fast, clean code. It is free and fairly easy to use. Here is what the authors say about their product:

Evrsoft 1st Page 2000 helps you write, edit and improve your HTML, its powerful tools let you author websites faster, easier and better! Most new builders don't realize the time they're losing by relying on traditional based text editors like WindowsTM Notepad to author their sites. Whether you're a beginner or an HTML guru you'll find 1st Page 2000 great to use!

[http://www.evrsoft.com/1stpage2.shtml]

Front Page Express - WYSIWYG web design tool released by Microsoft in the mid 1990's is a quick and easy tool for creating websites. Microsoft included this as a component that could be installed along with Internet Explorer up through version 5.01. Beginning with IE 5.5, it was dropped. Microsoft does not make it available at their site any longer unfortunately, as it has entered the realm of abandonware. This is too bad, as it was a nice editor for quick and simple websites.

I found that the installer for Frontpage Express can still be located by doing a search on Google (search for: frontpage express download). The user should beware however, as Microsoft does not condone distribution of their software by third parties without consent. You options are to get an option pack for NT 4.0, get an install for IE versions 4.0 - 5.01 (software CD's from Microsoft from the late 1990s almost all contain some version of IE, many with Front Page Express), or search it out on the web.

Of course I began the article by mentioning Mozilla.org's Composer that is part of the Mozilla suite. It is a very nice, free WYSIWYG web page editor. Get it here:

[http://www.mozilla.org/products/mozilla1.x/]

A nice wizard based website creator is EZ Sitemaker. It creates a website by asking the user questions about their site in a simple wizard. It comes with just two templates, but allows you to modify the templates, increasing the possibilities. I was able to create a test site in just ten minutes. It is offered by ImageLink Inc, and is a free download from here:

[http://ezsitemaker.net/index.htm]

An HTML based WYSIWYG web page editor is available in the form of a program called ProtPad. It is not quite as smooth to use as say FrontPage Express, but offers a nice interface and creates good, basic sites. All the tools are there, and this is a nice thin choice if you are creating light weight web sites. Get it from xtort.net (a strange bunch of folks, but brilliant programmers) right here:

[http://www.xtort.net/xtort/protopad.php]

The final product is another very nice WYSIWYG editor. It is a bit funky to get used to the design concept, but this program produces some really nice sites. It features some 20 or so templates from which to create your website. The original program is written in German (I think) and then apparently translated to English. The German influence adds to the program unusual feel. Over all it is a very sound web page creator. It is called Zeta Producer. If you install on a pre-Window 2000 system you will need some extras (like the latest release of ADO) to get it going. Additionally, the freeware version is a feature limited (although not time limited) release of the commercial version. It requires you register once you install the application. Over all, it seems pretty sound. You can get it here:

[http://www.zeta-software.de/enu/producer]

I have concentrated on mostly freeware tools in this article, but there are some trailware/commercial programs that bear mention. One of them is the W3IDE written by Liberty Basic's own Scott Bannon of BanPRO hosting. If I am correct, Scott wrote most of this application using Liberty Basic. It is an excellent editor with many advanced features. You can get a trialware version here:

[http://www.w3ide.com/]

Finding a host:

You know once the website is done, you are going to need somewhere to put it. Free website hosting is getting to be very rare these days. There are a few solutions, and I will go over these here. You may need to consider a low cost host to get the features you need.

Let's talk about the features you might want in a host -

  • First and foremost - space. You are going to need a few megabytes to host that site. I would consider at least 10Mb a minimum. You can get up to 50Mb from some free hosts.
  • Next you are going to want decent bandwidth. This describes both the amount of data (in bytes) your host will allow you to transfer at any given moment, and the total for a month.
  • Look for reliability. This can be hard to gauge, as there is no official reporting mechanism for tracking reliability.
  • Ease of use. How easily can you manage the site and move data to and from it.

You may also be interested in other features over time, such as CGI support, Scripts, PHP support, Perl Support, Email accounts and Database services (like MySQL).

Web hosts (especially free hosts) come and go quickly, and a concise list would not remain current very long. Do a GOOGLE search on "Free Web Hosts" to find some options when you begin your project. Let me mention as you search for a free host, look for one who puts the least amount of ads and pop-ups on your free site you create. These things turn off potential visitors and will only work against you.

As an alternative for actual links to free website hosts, here are a couple very good directories of free hosts:

[http://www.clickherefree.com/]

[http://www.free-webhosts.com/]

[http://www.freewebspace.net] (POPUP WARNING: This site has various popups, nothing dangerous detected)

I have used and like FREEWEBS as a free host. They impose very little on you, only requiring a single line on your page identifying your site as a FREEWEBS site. They offer 50Mb of web space and an easy policy to work within. They have one thing that makes it difficult - you must upload your site ONE file at a time. There is a really slick work around:

  • create your entire web site.
  • compress your website into a single zip file (if you have multiple directories, you will need a zip file for each)
  • upload the zip file using the freewebs uploaded
  • go to the freewebs file manager and click the icon to decompress the zip file - now your website is ready for visitors.

    If you are looking for an economical company to host a non-free website, please consider BanPRO (I hope Scott will not be embarrassed by the plug). Scott Bannon offers a special Liberty Basic package to people who are part of the Liberty Basic Community. You can reach Scott on the Conforums site by accessing his profile:

    [http://libertybasic.conforums.com/index.cgi?action=viewprofile&username=banpro]

    FTP Client:

    Once you have a host, you are going to want to get your website you are creating moved over to it. Like I mentioned before, some hosts have integrated file management and file transfer features, and do not allow you to work with other tools to move your website. Freewebs is this way. Others will allow you to connect via FTP and move your website from your local machine to the host. For this you will need an FTP Client.

    Internet Explorer has a basic FTP functionality and can be used to move files to your host, manage file permissions and delete files. Access your host by typing your ftp address into the address bar in the following form:

    ftp://username:password@yourwebsite.com

    I have a couple other freeware FTP clients that are top notch as well.

    RightFTP is a very slick, professional looking FTP client. It features a Windows Explorer look and feel. The developers claim it has a unique queue based engine which allows the client to handle the ftp commands in threaded queues allowing you to work with the client while it transfers files. Get it from the official website at:

    [http://www.right-soft.com/rightftp/]

    Website Publisher is a really great piece of software that will easily publish your site from your local hard disk to your hosted website. It uses FTP to do this, comparing the hosted site with your local site and uploading only the files that have changed. For an easy, one click upload and synchronization, this is the best tool out there. You can download the program from their website at:

    [http://www.cryer.co.uk/downloads/websitepublisher/index.htm]

    A couple other proven FTP clients are WS_FTP from IPSwitch which is a shareware product. You can visit them on the internet at [http://www.ipswitch.com/Products/WS_FTP/home/index.html]. Another popular FTP client is FTP Explorer, which allows you to browse and transfer files to and from a remote host using a windows explorer type interface. Find them on the web at: [http://www.ftpx.com]

    Thanks - Brad Moore