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Getting Started With My First Site
Some real basic questions
J_Evans

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 8:45 pm on Mar 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am just looking into setting up a website site and have been reading all of the posts for a week or two. I have an idea that most likely is not the most original but one that has an endless supply of content and if presented properly I think will both be usefull to the public and make a good tool for marketing and advertising. I don't know any programming so I am look for software and have been steered towards a program called "Web Studio 4" to me it looks ok and usefull but I need some help. Is it something that is going to enable me to get started and learn as I go, or is there a better way? Also, looking into hosting I have decied that I want to go with a local, pay or what you get service, but how much room should I be looking at to start? And what other services or features are good to have? I think that sometimes that I am over analizing this whole thing that I just need to jump in. Any information and comments will be greatly appreciated and I am sure that I will think of more questions. Thank you for your time.

 

MichaelBluejay

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 8:35 am on Mar 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi, and welcome to WebmasterWorld! Yes, you're over-analyzing. I suggest you jump right in. You'll make some mistakes, sure, but you'll probably spend less time making some mistakes and then fixing them, vs. trying to prevent all the mistakes you might make.

Price is not a good indicator of quality for hosting. You can get decent hosting for $4/mo. and terrible hosting for $15 -- or vice-versa. Unfortunately discussions of specific hosts aren't allowed on WebmasterWorld. The biggest thing to look for is Support. Realize that many budget plans don't include phone support, just email support. That may or may not be important to you, depending on your situation. Don't worry about how much space each plan has. You won't use all the space on even the smallest plan you can find. And if you do you can deal with it then (not now).

As for what to use to design your pages, I know that Dreamweaver is very popular, but personally I use some ancient software that's not even available any more, so I can't advise much on that front. But like I said, go ahead and get started, and it will become apparent soon enough what pieces to the puzzle you're missing -- and then you can come back here for more help. Go ahead and discover some missing pieces.

Good luck!

TonyMc

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 5:12 pm on Mar 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hosting is pretty cheap. Definitely go with a Unix host (php, apache, mysql etc). I know of a pretty good host that gives way more bandwidth and disk space than you'll probably ever need for $8 per month...with unlimited domains and all that. As for software, I would suggest an open source content management system like Joomla. There are others but that's my favorite. Your host probably would even offer some sort of automatic installer for it. The thing about open source tools is that there is a whole community of people that can help you. That will get you started, allow you learn as you go and not cost anything for the software.

--Tony

J_Evans

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 7:41 pm on Mar 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

What is an Unix server and what is the difference between open software and closed? I assume that it is that someone else can adjust it but I am not sure. The Web Suite 4.o seems pretty easy to use. Also if I create a website say using Web Suite 4.0 then want to change down the road do I have to start all over? Also to get a jump start on things can I do my content in say Microsoft Word then paste the document onto the web page when I create it? Also looking for any other tips etc. you can give me. Thank you for your help.

Jamie

TonyMc

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 10:43 pm on Mar 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Open Source software is essentially free software. Lots of people contribute to the creation of software for the sole purpose of giving it away for people to use. This is different than paid software that you purchase off the shelf somewhere.

Unix is the operating system or platform that your web server software would run on. Unix servers running an Apache web server are probably your best bet. You can google Unix and Apache and find lots of information on them. An alternative would be a Windows IIS server.

Joomla is open source content management software. Check out Joomla.org for more information about that. I'm not familiar with the software that you mentioned so I can't really answer your questions there.

...and you could use Word to write your content and paste it in but it's a little messy. I'd suggest writing it in a very simple text editor like Notepad then formatting it in whatever software you intend to use.

Hope that helps.

--Tony

Steerpike

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 1:09 am on Mar 13, 2006 (gmt 0)


Everything I know about being a beginer.

Firstly, let me start by saying this:

The only reason it seems hard is because you don't know enough about it.

Ok, so you have this burning desire to play with computers and you think the net
is pretty cool. Let's make a website! There's just one small problem; you're not
entirely sure how to turn on a computer.

Firstly you need to have a basic understanding of how all the components you're
going to need fit together.

You're going to need a server.
You're going to (most likely) need a scripting language.
You're going to (most likely) need a database language.

For the purpose of this article, we're going to set up the computer you're sitting
at now as a server. This isn't how real websites work but it'll help you get an
understanding of structure and it'll also give you a nice testing/development area
to play with. In this article I'm assuming you are using windows XP.

Installing Internet Information Services (IIS):

Click start > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs > Add/Remove Windows Components

Select the checkbox for Internet Information Services and install, leaving all the
default options.

That's it. Your computer is now a server.

What does that mean?

Well, open up a browser and type: [localhost...] into the address bar. It
doesn't matter if you're connected to the internet or now. You'll see the page resolve
in your browser. This is the default page that windows creates when it installs IIS.

So where does it exist on your computer?

Explore your computer to: C:\Inetpub\wwwroot

Inetpub and wwwroot are directories that get added when you install IIS. It's where
the server goes to look for webpages when you type 'localhost' into your browser.
If you make a directory in wwwroot called test and in that directory, make a page
called index.html and just write: Hello, in it. You can switch to your browser,
type in [localhost...] and see the page you just created.

You don't need to type in the Inetpub or the wwwroot parts because that's where IIS
looks by default.

Too easy, huh?

What's a scripting language?

Very simply a scripting language allows your webpages to do more than just sit there
when people go and visit them. An html page is very good at showing you information
but it's very limited in being able to respond to users choices.

The most common scripting languages are: PERL, PHP and ASP.

Because you've installed IIS on your computer you can use ASP as standard.
Go to the index.html page you just created and add this line to it:

<% response.write("Welcome to my webpage.") %>

Now save that file as index.asp

Open it by browsing to it in your web browser(through localhost) and see what it says.

Why did we change the file extension?

Servers need to know how to treat the files you're asking for.it's a little confusing
with the setup we have but try to imagine that your computer is actually doing two
jobs at the moment.

First, think of yourself as a user. You open a browser, type in an address and try to
find a page.

Second think of yourself as a server. You get a request, you find the page being asked
for and you send it to the user.

It's confusing becuase, right now, your computer is doing both jobs. In a real set up
it's likely that the server with be a totally different computer.

Anywa, when the server gets the request for a webpage it grabs the webpage, looks at it
and decides how to deal with that request.

An .html file is sent straight to the browser so that the user can view it.
An .asp or .php file means the browser goes: 'Oh, I have to do things with this page before
I can send it.' It's simply the way you let the server know that you're asking it to
execute scripts.

In our example we're asking the server to write "Welcome to my webpage." and output
it to the browser. It doesn't seem that exciting but that's because I'm not covering
everything you can do with a scripting language here. You get to go find that out on your
own.

One last personal note on scripting languages.

When I first started, I used asp as a language. It's a perfectly decent place to start
but after a certain amount of time I suggest moving into php. If you find yourself
wanting to write scripts that do things such as:
Send email.
Upload files.
Manipulate images.
Then I recommend switching to php. All the above things are possible in asp but I found
that the way they're implemented in php made more 'sense' to me. I wont confuse you now
with why, but try to remember to keep it in mind as you develop as, well, a developer.
To install php you need to find the php download (a quick google search will suffice) and
run it like any other program. This will create a php directory in C:
Grab the .dll file from that directory and copy it to C:/windows
Grab the php.ini file and put it in C:/windows
That should be it, but there are some excellent tutorials on installing php that make
everything very clear which you should probably google for and have open before you
start.

In very, very simple terms, you're not just installing the php language onto your
computer, you're setting it up so that the IIS knows to look for .php files in
exactly the same way it looks for .asp files by default.

Finally, the database language.

Databases are basically big buckets for holding stuff. The nice thing about these
buckets is that you can ask for a specific thing and when you reach into it, that's
exactly what it'll try and give you. Installing a database language is much the
same as installing php, and there are a great many tutorials around that help
explain it clearly.

I'm not going to go into detail about databases here unless I get further requests. I
think just understanding that there are three seperate entities related to bringing you
information is important enough.

When people talk about servers they mean the place where the files related to your
website are located. They can talk about APACHE or IIS, but essentially
they're all just places where files are stored.

When people talk about scripting they mean the language your files are written in.
They can talk about ASP, PHP or HTML. There are a great many extensions associated
with web development and they all relate to different languages. The extensions are
important because they tell the server exactly how to treat the page that's being
requested.

When people talk about databases they mean where information is stored. They might
mention MYSQL, SQL, ACCESS or Oracle but they're fundamentally all the same thing:
Great big, storage centers for information. A huge chunk of development is writing
processes that allow people to sort through that information in a meaningful way, which
is why scripting languages and databases are usually mentioned in the same breath.

J_Evans

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 7:03 am on Mar 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Is content management software different than the website design software, or are they the same? Can you convert from one to another or are you stuck with what you design with? I would like to learn to write programming but isn't it a little easier to use a design program to develope a site then work on learning the programming? Thanks

MichaelBluejay

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 8:18 am on Mar 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

CMS (content management software) is a KIND of web design software. You have three choices for making pages:

1. Code the HTML manually by hand.
2. Use generic design software (WYSWYG - what you see is what you get)
3. Use CMS software. A CMS lets you focus on the content (i.e., your articles), and has a number of built-in designs.

Yes, get some pages up first and worry about learning programming later.

Bennie

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 11:31 am on Mar 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Nice post Steerpike!

rkhare

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 11:40 am on Mar 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Steerpike
its just incredible, you explained everything so easily, this post is one of the best I found on any forum. .... classic, must read for everyone - First Step to Webhosting.

curte

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 8:07 pm on Mar 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Getting my two cents in...
A nice wysiwyg editor is NVu, open source, go look at it at www.nvu.org.
A little wobbly at times, and it sometimes screws up your HTML but it's free and friendly. I use it often when I tire of hand coding.
Or, to learn HTML, Cute html editor. Very good low-cost editor.
And you can't beat Cute FTP
Good luck

Curt

p.s. Steerpike - veerrry good!

faris10

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 4:10 am on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think all the tools available under the GNU. If you look for free softwares you can find everything that you need from A-Z.
Here are some of the great softwares that you may need.
www.mysql.com
Great database that can fit your website.
www.php.net which is a great scripting language.
www.oscommerce.com
Full functionality shopping cart that I been suing for some years, Open source.
Do u need free BOOKS?

look Emacs, Kedit (these comes with linux)
You can use crimson editor very simple for windows.
The only thing I have changed in the last year is moving to a real operating system that gave better control, you will find all the tools that you need.
www.linux.org ,www.freebsd.org
All editors,Mysql,Apache, and many more comes simply free. Choose the distribution that you like and start running from there.

[edited by: mack at 9:06 pm (utc) on Mar. 14, 2006]
[edit reason] link removed. [/edit]

BeeDeeDubbleU

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 9:01 am on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Steerpike you should write a book ;)

J_Evans

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 4:19 pm on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I thought I had the basics, I was going to use Web Studio to create 10 or so pages of good content, figure out a domain name, contact a hosting company, get online, the refine the site along with learning some basic programming. And I know that everyone does things their own way and I appreciate the tips but once again it gets over my head. Web Studio is a page designer I guess so do I still need a database program? And exactly what does that do for the website? And am I correct that those are the two things that I need to get started? Also when you create a site say in Web Studio how hard is it to convert to a different setup down the road, another program or your own program? Is your content all still useable or do you have to start from scratch? Someone said to type content in Notepad. I have not used that before, are the files saveable in Note Pada format? Sorry for all the questions and thanks for all of the help.

Jamie

jessejump

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 7:34 pm on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>>>> I thought I had the basics, I was going to use Web Studio to create 10 or so pages of good content, figure out a domain name, contact a hosting company, get online, the refine the site

I think you are being overwhelmed with information. At this point, don't worry about a database, javascript, a CMS, programming languages, php, ASP, Open Source, running your own web server.
You want to make some basic HTML web pages and send them up to a hosting company. You can use any HTML editing program or Notepad to add some text and pictures to make your pages.
A good HTML book or some basic tutorials can teach you how to do this. Then later, you can advance along if you are interested in learning the other things.

zafile



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 9:46 pm on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

In 1999, I started building Web sites in a similar way as the ones described in this discussion.

I found the right Web editor, the right hosting service and other basic stuff. I thought I had everything sorted out!

Nevertheless, I made I few mistakes along the way because I didn't have the right step by step description on how to start and finish my first Web site.

It took almost 2 years for someone to write the steps:

[webmasterworld.com...]

Cheers!

MatthewHSE

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 10:35 pm on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I thought I had the basics, I was going to use Web Studio to create 10 or so pages of good content, figure out a domain name, contact a hosting company, get online, the refine the site along with learning some basic programming.

That will be the best way to get started. You've gotten a lot of great advice here so far, but in the end, just jumping in is the best way to learn. Go ahead and get your domain name, buy your hosting, and create your pages with Web Studio or whatever tool you like. Fiddle around with it and have a good time. You'll make a lot of mistakes you'll be embarrassed about later, but we all do that at first. At first? I still do it now, and I've been at this stuff for years! ;)

Next step is to learn some HTML so you can edit your pages without Web Studio and thereby gain extra flexibility and improved control. While you're at it, learn to write clean (X)HTML and use the right elements for the right purposes. Then you can get into CSS and Javascript, then server-side includes (SSI).

Of course, once you get a taste of SSI, you'll probably want to get into some serverside programming like PHP, which will also involve some database work. And, somewhere along the line, you'll probably get bitten by the validation bug, which can cause long-lasting diseases largely characterized by an obsessive desire to write correct code and a propensity to post dozens of questions trying to figure out all the errors you'll come across! ;)

Throughout all of this, you'll want to read up on usability, SEO, and whatever other web-related topics you come across. You'll probably change hosts once or twice, which is a pain but good experience, and you'll probably redesign your site many times. Gradually you'll get used to what you're working with, you'll learn more about it, and become more familiar with the terms, until you're be able to at least come up with the right questions even if you don't know the answers. (Which is an important thing to be able to do, believe me.)

Notice the pattern...you start small, and learn as you go. It works for me. I think it will work for you too.

J_Evans

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 11:24 pm on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to consider and answer my questions.

webpreneur

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 11:57 am on Mar 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

hi Evans. Based on my experience, Notepad is still irreplacable as the simple tool to create HTML. Yes, you can use WYSWIG softwares, but you'll miss the detail of HTML (and the frustration of it hehe). But seriously, I mean try WYSYWIG like Web Studio, okay, you have the 10 pages. Now try to create from scratch with Notepad, aim to create exactly the same 10 pages with Notepad, then in the difficulties, you'll learn HTML.

And.. may be this is a bit controversial.. but like it or not, the Internet is still and will still be run by text codes, simple HTML. So don't depend on WYSIWIG only, try and try to master manual HTML coding with Notepad. You'll know the power and control you have, once you master manual HTML coding. Any WYSiWIG will become irrelevant, because you look straight at the codes.

OK But for now, just do it. Three words. Just do it. And you'll learn all with us here in webmasterworld.

grelmar

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 1:32 pm on Mar 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Jump in and make some mistakes.

The more you learn, the newer and more interesting mistakes you get to make.

One of the most important learning tools you can use:

Go to a website. Right click. "View Source."

Then sit back and say "Ahhhhhh.... So THAT'S how they did that."

Leva

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 3:11 pm on Mar 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

One thing that I recommend to all newbies is to learn the basics of some programming languages -- html, CSS, javascript, php, perl, plus you need to know the basics about whatever flavor of unix or windoze you're operating in.

You don't need to be able to write a CMS by hand from scratch. Heavens knows I can't. But I can modify an existing script, skin a CMS, or whatever.

But if something breaks you need to know how to fix it. A Wysiwig editor will only get you so far ... if you want to expand the site beyond static pages, or if you start getting a funky error, you need to know how to program, at least a little.

Leva

Junanagoh

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 5:54 pm on Mar 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WW Evans!

I have some advice to give as well. I also just started designing a few months ago and posted on here before I got started.

Like everyone here is saying you just need to jump in. All of this information can be VERY overwhelming. I would look for a HTML tutorial online, study it for a few hours (thats all it takes to learn it, its a VERY easy language to learn) and start by writing a few pages by hand. Also, learn CSS. It really helps for large and small sites. Google it after you learn HTML.

Look for a cheap hosting company when you finish your site. I spent almost $200 on my hosting for my first site which was really my largest mistake so far.

I started by making a very small website and forum. I have a few regular members so far but the real thing was that I learned how to do it!

Steerpike its just incredible, you explained everything so easily, this post is one of the best I found on any forum. .... classic, must read for everyone - First Step to Webhosting.

Seriously. Steer where were you when I wanted to learn all of this? Very well written advice!

Jagod

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 11:52 am on Mar 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am also a newbie, and I know I have to learn php, java and flash as a "must" but besides that, wich other languages do I have to learn?. pearl? phyton? _____? in what direction should I go after I get a grasp of the basics?.
I don't want to start a holy war here (I know evrybody thinks his lenguage of preference is the best) I have been programming in VB6 and C until now but I do know is time to move on.
I would appreciate your suggestions, as this is a opportunity for me to learn the next language. I know I can grasp the basics of a language, and do basic things in less than a month, but to really know and master it it will take me more than a year, (I have been programming in VB6 more than 7 years and still learning about it) and is very important for me to choose the rigth direction.

bnrowdy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 7:33 pm on Mar 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

J:
Good discussion topic...I'm in the same boat as you and so this post has been great...been reading up on stuff for awhile and I'm just now jumping in. Let me know how your content management situation works. I've got one picked out that I'm set to try but I have no idea if it will meet my needs or not. But thats how we learn.

I have an additional question regarding content...I know good quality/quantity content is key. Any advice for getting good content quickly? Should I pay for others to write articles/posts or start with my own content (burn the midnight oil method) then branch out?

Any ideas would be helpful

grelmar

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 10:38 pm on Mar 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

J:
If you know VB well, then no need to walk away from it. I don't know VB from a hole in the ground, but some people I know do, and they're leveragin that to make a killing developing ASP and Dot Net based sites.

I'm no fan of MS, but if you have skills, leverage the skills you already possess.

mediafrenzy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 2:44 am on Mar 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

A word of warning about cheap hosting... don't.

While there *are* any number of hosts out there offering incredibly cheap hosting, often with "unlimited" (or extremely high) bandwidth, storage etc, these hosts will generally cause you far more headaches in the long run. Excess downtime, missing backups, lack of support, sluggish speed, overloaded servers... all common problems of the el cheapo hosts.

IMHO you'd be far better off spending even $10 or $20 / month extra, and getting a reliable host with REALISTIC and HONEST limitations.

There is no such thing as unlimited bandwidth.

J_Evans

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 6:09 am on Mar 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

What is the average that most of you would think would be reasonable for hosting? Not naming anyone in particular and I know that they have a wide range but is say $ 20.00 reasonable to start? Or is it felt that you need to spnd thirty just to avoid problems?

whatsdoin

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 2:39 pm on Mar 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

I must admit I learned more from Steerpikes article above than any manual or search ever.
A talent for explaining.

J_Evans

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 12:39 am on Mar 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

You know I thought I had an idea for a site that would be fun, helpful to the public, and that I would enjoy. THe only problem is when I go to Google and type some keywords in a search it comes up with something like 198,000,000 returns. Am I looking at this wrong? I have reviewed some of the sites and yes some are like what I was thinking but there are alot that are not as good as I am thinking of doing. Is this an indicator that the market is overloaded with sites on this subject? But then again if you type in say travel you get 2,510,000,000 returns. What are you expert opinions on this? Time to bag this idea or march forward and create a "better" site. Thank you.

whatsdoin

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2789 posted 6:06 am on Mar 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

J_EVANS

There are two ways of looking at things such as you stated above..either good positive or negative..the choice is personal.

Now a lot of popularity means there is a demand..and if you are a fighter ,kicker,puncher and are confident in your site and abilities to promote..you will get in the top percentage of that half a billion sites for 'widgets'..and when that happens the flood gates will open for money i guess.

On the otherhand you could go for a niche no one has such as smelly socks.zom..and have no one search for it..even though you are the only one dominating the market.

So depends how you look at such things is my way of looking at the bigger picture..some people like compettition other like to do quitely.

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