Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.


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    Chapter 33. Producing interesting home pages

    The Internet is a fantastic forum for people who have something they want to express. If you have knowledge or ideas that you wish to share, home pages are a genial medium. The Internet ”works.” If you make a good home page, you are guaranteed to get plenty of visitors to it. Of course it requires that you get the page entered in the different search engines.

    It is important that you register the page with dictionaries like Yahoo, but that is the technical part of the problem. How can you assure that the contents are good and pertinent? Let me offer some advice.

    The contents are paramount

    It is no fun to visit a home page that lacks life and meaningful contents. If you look at the different ”good” home pages that attract large numbers of visitors, there are two types of contents that people appreciate:

    ·                  Interesting illustrated articles.

    ·                  Interesting links.

    If you can write articles that are useful to others and that people like to read you have a sure hit. The subject can be broad (like recipes and cooking) or it can be narrow (like about Tibetan shepherd dogs). The important thing is that the content is good and solid and illustrated – then the page will be read.

    Another option is to give the reader a good link collection. If you are interested in a specific subject, you probably know a number of good home pages, both domestic and foreign. If you can make such a link collection other users will enjoy it. But let me warn you: links change continuously, making it a major task to keep the link collection current. If too many of the links don’t work, people get disappointed and they will not come back.

    Home pages with interactivity

    The interesting home page is also a dynamic  page. It needs to be continuously updated. You can do that in different ways. You can continue to insert new articles and new links. That is a lot of work, but it will guarantee you heavy traffic to the page.

    Another option is to use the reader’s own experiences. You can include an e-mail address in the page that people can write to, and then you can use their input in the page. That will give lots of life. You can also automate this process with formulas that automatically register the inputs. Contact your Internet provider, if he has a formula/guest book that you can utilize. Else you have to find it on the net – There are lots things as free ware.

    If the home page is going to be more professional with lots of user activity, then you need to make some server-based scripts. That subject may be beyond the scope of most private home pages, but it is well to know the possibilities. So let me now give a little word explanation. We are talking about the scripts that are used in many of the more professional home pages.

    ASP

    Active Server Pages is a Microsoft standard, which is used to produce dynamic home pages. These home pages can typically include data that are retrieved from a database. That could be a price list that is routinely updated. The user can in the company’s home page inquire about a given product price. The price is retrieved from a database and sent to the user together with the other home page contents.

    An ASP page is a HTML document that contains scripts (a certain type of code). When the user opens the home page, the various scripts are processed instantly on the web server:

    The ASP page contains data that are stored in an Access-database. The database is placed on the web server, and can be updated continuously. Thus the home page is always kept ajour, without the company having to adjust the HTML code. Since the resulting pages are HTML documents, they can be viewed by any browser.

    I have personally made a picture gallery using ASP. You can find a link to that on the home page for this book. The ASP files can contain scripts written in either of the programming languages VBScript (Visual Basic) or in JavaScript. You can recognize the ASP pages by the file name suffix ".asp". When the scripts for some reason fail to work, you get an error message like this:

    Figure 73. Error message from an ASP server.

    CGI

    Common Gateway Interface. A user interface, which gives access to run scripts (small programs), which run on a web server. So CGI works on server-based scripts; the processing id done by the server, whose processor ”adds the muscle.” The script is written in a programming language like for example Pearl.

    Ordinary users can use CGI scripts from the net, if such are offered by their provider. CGI-scripts can use guest books and other formulas, but they are somewhat cumbersome to install. And as mentioned the use of CGI requires that you know precisely which works from your Internet providers server.

    Figure 74. A small CGI script called a ”counter”.

    PHP

    Personal Home Page Tools. PHP is also a script language used for web programming in connection with server-based databases. Technically that is also in ”interpreter” similar to JavaScript and Microsoft’s VBScript.

    PHP is freeware and is used primarily on Linux web servers. With that PHP is an alternative to Microsoft Active Server Page (ASP), which only works on Windows NT/2000/XP server.

    As was the case with ASP, the PHP scripts are included in the home page document together with the HTML codes. When the user opens a PHP page the script is processed by the server before the user sees. In that way PHP (like ASP) creates dynamic home pages, where the contents are updated ”on the fly”. HTML pages with PHP code usually have .php, .php3 or .phtml as suffix.

    There both books and books bout ASP and PHP, which are excellent systems to put new life in home pages.

    Conclusion

    I just hope that you have enjoyed this book! I really enjoy making home pages, and I have here tried to describe as much as possible about this ”art”.

    I will be very satisfied if you have learned to make HTML documents with NoteTab!


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