Most people I have encountered that do know a bit about web designing have little or no understanding of how to set a web site locally on your computer and to upload this to the net… This small tutorial is for newbies… and experts in the field are invited to add, comment and even contradict any and all information that follows.
Info 1 – Setting up a local web host or a locally developed web site.
If you think you would be using programming technologies like PHP or if you want to create “Dynamic Web Sites”. You would need to setup a local web server (meaning on your computer). This is so that you can develop PHP programming and test it locally (though be warned, some procedures, functions or programs may act differently locally and on the net..) If you are just thinking to come up with a basic HTML, CSS or a “Static Web Site” that only uses html and css, you may skip this step.
One great installer for PHP/MySQL comes from these cool people from http://www.apachefriends.org/, is the XAMPP. XAMPP is an easy to install Apache web server bundled with MySQL, PHP and Perl. Its a no frills installer. Just unpack and it already installs all above mentioned to your computer. Once installed, look for the folder (drive letter):apachefriendsxampphtdocs. Within the folder of htdocs, you may now place your web pages (you can also use this for your basic HTML files and see their behaviour if placed on a server) Normally, html files will work under a server or even if place in a simple folder on your computer, but for PHP files (filename.php) to work, they must be run on a server.
For you to be able to access and run these(both PHP and HTML) just type this in your browser address : http://localhost/foldername/filename.php or http://localhost/foldername/filename.html. Using a local server may help you if you develop intranets or what we call “local” or “inhouse” or “Internal company” web sites or mini sites. This sites cannot be access from the internet.
Info 2 – Naming your web pages(your files).
The basic naming norm for your files, for them to work when someone hits http://www.yourwebsite.com or http://localhost/foldername, is to properly name your main page. For geeks, servers can be set to look for a file to open once an http request is received. But normally the default (standard) name for the main page is index, either index.html or index.php. The rest of your web pages may be named as you please, that is of course following standard naming procedures. (Note: locally, your local web site may open files that have “capital letters” assuming that you are operating in windows. But if you upload your files on a “purely” Linux server, the server cannot read any “Capital Letters” on File names. ex. Index.php may or may not be read, index.php will be read.)
Info 3 – Setting up a web host
There are two types of hosting that can be found on the net. One is commercial hosting or paid hosting and the other is free hosting. Depending on the package offered by the host, there are some free hosts that do not offer MySQL or if they do, they just give you one database to work with. If you do not work with MySQL that’s ok. One Free host that i use for my sites is FREEHOSTIA they offer free hosting plus one MySQL database.
Freehosts usually offer subdomain names while commercial hosting entails that you register your own domain name. Freehostia offers only subdomain names for free hosting (ex. http://noypi.freehostia.com or http://able.freehostia.com. )
For you to be able to upload your files you would need an FTP program. The program that i use is Ws_FTP by IPSwitch. FTP is the shortcut for “File Transfer Protocol” or some people call it “File Transfer Program”. Using FTP is much, much faster than using your web hosts’ File Managers. Using FTP is almost similar to using windows explorer™. Just take note of the following:
1. FTP Server name
Info 4 – End Note
Creating or developing websites may seem like a tall order for beginners, it actually takes getting used to. The undersigned, intentionally did not go into much details as he believes that lessons are better learned handson. Trial and Error may seem like a total waste of time, but believe me, you learn and remember your lessons well.