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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating an HTML Web Page

Chapter 9 -- Publishing Your Page on the Web

Chapter 9

Publishing Your Page on the Web


CONTENTS



I've covered a lot of ground in the past few chapters, and no doubt you've worked liked the proverbial Trojan applying the electronic equivalent of spit and polish to buff your Web page to an impressive sheen. However, there's still one task you need to perform before you can cross "Make Web Page" off your to-do list. I'm talking, of course, about getting your page published on the Web so surfers the world over can eyeball your creation.

This chapter shows you how to help your Web pages emigrate from their native land (your hard disk) to the New World (the Web). I'll show you how to best prepare them for the journey, how to select a mode of transportation and an ultimate destination, and how to settle your pages once they've arrived.

A Plethora of Web Publishing Possibilities

The third most common question posed by Web page publishing neophytes is "Where the heck do I put my page when I'm done?" (The most common question, in case you're wondering, is "How do I get started?" The second most common question is "Why is Jerry Lewis so popular in France?") If you've asked that question yourself, then you're doing okay because it means you're clued into something crucial: Just because you've created a Web page and you have an Internet connection, it doesn't mean your page is automatically a part of the Web.

The reasons for this are mind-numbingly technical, but the basic idea is that people on the Net have no way of "getting to" your computer and, even if they did, your computer isn't set up to hand out documents (such as Web pages) to visitors who ask for them. (Yes, it is possible to get your machine to do this, but it requires a Ph.D. in programming, electrical engineering, and geekhood.)

Computers that can do this are called servers (because they "serve" stuff out to the Net), and computers that specialize in distributing Web pages are called Web servers. So, to get to the point at long last, your Web page isn't on the Web until you store it on a Web server. (Since this computer is, in effect, playing "host" to your pages, such machines are also called Web hosts. Companies that run these Web hosts are called hosting providers.)

Okay, that's all more or less reasonable. Now, just how does one go about finding one of these Web server thingamajigs? Well, the answer to that depends on a bunch of factors, including the type of page you have, how you got connected to the Internet in the first place, and how much money you're willing to shell out for the privilege. In the end, you have three choices:

Use Your Existing Internet Provider

If you access the Internet via a corporate or educational network, your institution may have its own Web server that you can use. If you get your Net jollies through an access provider, ask them if they have a Web server available. Many providers will put up personal pages free of charge.

Try to Find a Free Hosting Provider

If you qualify, there are a few hosting providers that will bring your Web pages in from the cold out of the goodness of their hearts. What do I mean by "qualify?" Well, in most cases, these services are open only to specific groups, such as students, artists, non-profit organizations, less fortunate members of the Partridge Family, and so on. The following table lists a few of these do-gooder services that you might want to check out.

One-Click Host Shopping
For your shopping convenience, I've gathered all the info you see here and in the next few sections and created a Web page with the appropriate links. To check out a company, open the page in your favorite browser, click on the link, and you're there! Look for the file named WEBHOSTS.HTM on the disk.

Who Does ItHow To Get There Who's Eligible
Allfaiths Presshttp://www.ssp-ii.com/ssp/Allfaiths/ Religious organizations
Beverly Hillshttp://www.geopages.com/cgi-bin/ Anyone!
Internet CurBet Communicationsmain/homestead/http://www.curbet.com/donate.html Non-profit groups n Virginia
Esoteric Source Providershttp://www.value.net/~esoteric/ Writers "of meta hysical subjects"
MarketNethttp://mkn.co.uk/HELP/USERS/FREEPAGE Anyone!
Nitehawkhttp://www.nitehawk.com/ Anyone (up to 200KB of storage)
The Student Centerhttp://www.infomall.org/studentcenter/ Students
USA Onlinehttp://USAonline.com/ Artists and programmers (see the next figure)
Vive Web http://www.vive.com/connect/ Non-profit organi-Connectionszations, schools, community centers

USA Online offers free Web hosting for artists and programmers.

Sign Up with a Commercial Hosting Provider

For personal and business-related Web pages, most Web artisans end up renting a chunk of a Web server from a commercial hosting provider. You normally fork over a setup fee to get your account going, and then you're looking at a monthly fee that gets you two things:

The world's capitalists-efficient free-market types that they are-smelled plenty of money to be had once the explosive growth of the Web became apparent. This means there's certainly no shortage of Web hosting providers available. In fact, there are hundreds of the darn things. To see a list of most of them, point your favorite browser to the following URL:


http://www.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Companies/Internet_Presence_Providers/

The following table provides you with a random sampling of just some of the ones you can check out:

Who Does It How To Get ThereThe Skinny
Aquila BBShttp://www.aquila.com/ Setup fee: $49 Monthly fee: $19.95 Storage: 20MB Bandwidth: 100MB Notes: Also offers plans for small and large businesses.
Clever dot Nethttp://clever.net/self/ Setup fee: None index.html Monthly fee: $18.50 Storage: 10MB Bandwidth: 200MB Notes: See the next figure.
Lynkhttp://www.lmg.com/ Setup fee: None Monthly fee: $15 Storage: 5MB Bandwidth: No limit Notes: $75.00 for six months.
NetHomeshttp://www.nethomes.com/ Setup fee: None Monthly fee: $5 (includes 14-day free trial) Storage: 1MB Bandwidth: 5MB Notes: Includes a "file manager" that makes it easy to transfer files to the site.
Nitehawkhttp://www.nitehawk.com/ Setup fee: None Yearly fee: $12 for 1MB, $40 for 5MB Storage: 1MB or 5MB Bandwidth: No limit Notes: Nitehawk is free up to200KB of storage (see above); additional storage: $10 per MB per year.
PRONEThttp://www.pronett.com/ Setup fee: None Monthly fee: $19.95 Storage: one page, two pics Bandwidth: No limit Notes: Monthly fee is for a single page with two images. Has a do-it-yourself Web page creator.
Wixhttp://www.wix.com/ Setup fee: $50 Monthly fee: $20 Storage: 1MB Bandwidth: 500 hits per day Notes: A "hit" is recorded each time a browser accesses your page.

The Cleverdot Net Web hosting service is a commercial hostingprovider.

What happens when you sign up with one of these providers? Well, after you establish your account, the Web administrator will create two things for you: a directory on the server computer that you can use to store your Web page files, and your very own URL. (This is also true if you're using a Web server associated with your corporate or school network.)

The directory usually takes one of the following forms:


/usr/login/

/usr/users/login/

/usr/login/www-docs/

In each case, login is the login name or user name that the provider assigns to you. Your URL will normally take the following shape:


http://provider/~login/default.html

Here, provider is the host name of your provider (for example, www.nethomes.com), login is your login name (note the tilde (~) in front), and default is the recommended name for your home page (which is usually either index.html or default.html).

Why the Default Name for a Home Page?
Why do hosting providers often insist that your home page have a certain name? Well, they need to allow for someone trying to access your URL without specifying an HTML document (if they don't know the name of your home page, for example). For example, suppose your provider's host name is www.host.com and your login name is biff. Now suppose someone uses the following URL to access your site:
http://www.host.com/~biff/
The server has to display something, so it will usually look for a default HTML file (such as index.html). If your home page is named something else, the reader may get an ugly listing of the files in your directory, or even an error.

A Pre-Trip Checklist

Once you decide on a hosting provider, you're just about ready to transfer your files to your directory on your hosting provider's server. Before you do that, however, you need to do the look-before-you-leap thing. That is, you need to give your files the once-over to make sure everything's on the up-and-up. Here's a short checklist to run through:

Putting Your Page into Analysis
If you want to give your page a thorough HTML check, there are resources on the Web that'll do the dirty work for you. These so-called HTML "analyzers" check your page for improper tags, mismatched brackets, missing quotation marks, and more. One of the best is called Weblint (because it picks the lint off your Web pages). To try it out, point your browser to the following site:
http://www.unipress.com/weblint/
Copy your entire HTML code and then paste it in the DATA box near the bottom of the Weblint screen. Select Check it, and Weblint goes to work. After a few seconds, a new page appears with a complete analysis of your page. It's the easy way to good HTML mental health!

Okay, Ship It!

Now, at long last, you're ready to get your page on the Web. To proceed, you have two choices:

In the latter case, you need to use the Internet's FTP (File Transfer Protocol) service. For this portion of the show, you'll use the WS_FTP software that comes on the disk with this book. This is a Windows FTP program that makes it easy to send files from your computer to the Web server. The next couple of sections show how to configure and use WS_FTP to get the job done.

Setting Up the FTP Program

Before you can send anything to the Web server, you have to tell WS_FTP how to find it and which directory to use. Thankfully, you only have to do this once, and you're set for life. Here's how it's done:

  1. Start WS_FTP. You see the Session Profile dialog box appear.
  2. In the Profile Name text box, enter a name for this profile (something like "My Web Directory" is just fine).
  3. In the Host Name text box, enter the host name of your provider (for example, www.logophilia.com).
  4. Make sure the Host Type box says Automatic detect.
  5. Enter your login name in the User ID box and your password in the Password box. (Note that, for security reasons, the password appears as asterisks.)
  6. In the Remote Host text box, enter the Web server directory that was assigned to you (such as /usr/login/).
  7. In the Local PC box, enter the drive and directory on your computer that contains your Web page files.
  8. Select Save to store your settings. The next figure shows an example of a completed dialog box.

An example of a completed Session Profile dialog box.

Sending the Files Via FTP

With WS_FTP ready for action, you can get down to it. Here are the basic steps to follow to send your files to the Web server via FTP:

  1. If you haven't done so already, establish a connection with your regular Internet access provider.
  2. In WS_FTP's Session Profile dialog box, select OK to connect to the hosting provider's Web server. (If the Session Profile dialog box isn't on-screen, select the Connect button.) Once you log in to the server, the WS_FTP window shows your computer's files at the top (the Local System box) and your Web server files at the bottom (the Remote System box).
  3. Your first task is to select all the files you want to send. The easiest way to do this is to hold down the Ctrl key, move your mouse into the Local System box, and then click on each file that you're sending. When you finish selecting the files, release the Ctrl key.
  4. If you're sending non-text files (such as graphics), make sure the Binary option is activated.
  5. Click the Send button. WS_FTP sends the files one by one to the Web server.
  6. Once the files have arrived safely, click the Close button to shut down the connection.

Extending Your File Extensions
Some browsers don't know how to handle files that end with the .HTM extension and prefer to see .HTML, instead. To avoid problems, you should rename all your .HTM files so they end with .HTML. To do this with WS_FTP, click on the file in the Remote System box, click on Rename, enter the new name, and then select OK.

To make sure everything's working okay, plug your URL into your browser and give your page a test surf. If all goes well, then congratulations are in order because you've officially earned your Webmeister stripes!

Getting the Word Out: Advertising Your Page

Okay, your page is floating out there in Webspace. Now what? How are people supposed to know that your new cyberhome is up and running and ready for visitors? Well, people won't beat a path to your door unless you tell them how to get there. For starters, you can spread the news via word of mouth, e-mail notes to friends and colleagues, and by handing out your shiny, new business cards that have your home page URL plastered all over them. Also, it's worth checking to see if your hosting provider has a section devoted solely to announcing new customer pages.

For the Internet at large, however, you'll need to engage in a bit of shameless self-promotion. While there's no central database of Web pages, there are a few spots you can use to get some free publicity for your new page. These include UseNet newsgroups, "What's New" pages, Web directories, Web search engines, mailing lists, and more. The best place to get a complete rundown of all these sources is the article titled "FAQ: How to Announce Your New Web Site." You can eyeball this article in either of the following locales:

Good luck!

The Least You Need to Know

This chapter completed your course on creating your first Web page by showing you how to get your page out onto the Net. Here's a quick review before the final exam: