Make your own home page!

Want to create your own place on the Web for everyone to see? It's easier than you might think. You can do everything yourself, or hire a professional to create an e-business site. There are, however, a few restrictions on personal home pages that you must abide by.

So how do I create Web pages?

Microsoft FrontPage: FrontPage is a full featured WYSIWYG HTML editor that allows users to develop web pages with a casual point and click interface. You can develop your pages offline and then upload your new pages using a third party FTP program or the built in Web Publishing Wizard to your public_html directory. We also provide a server with full support for Microsoft FrontPage extensions for commercial domains. See our Frontpage section for more information.

The simplest Web page is nothing more than plain text with HTML tags. HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. The tags are directions to the browser on how to format your page. They allow you to do things like specify the page's title, specify headings, display text in bold or italic, create bulleted lists or tables, insert images, make links to other pages or images, and much more. You don't need any tools other than a text editor such as Notepad to write your own HTML documents.

For an introduction to HTML and samples to get you started, check out the Beginner's Guide to HTML.

There is also a wealth of software tools for visually creating Web pages. These programs allow you to create your pages by simply pointing, clicking, dragging, and dropping blocks of text and other items. With these tools, you can see how your page is going to look as you create it, and the software takes care of generating the HTML tags.

For more information and download sites for HTML editing tools, check out these pages:

However you create your pages, keep in mind that your home page should be named welcome.html or welcome.htm for best results on our server. The names of other pages and images are up to you and may be referenced by file name only (no full path necessary) as long as you place them all in the same directory on our server.

Important note: Filenames on the server are case sensitive and will most likely be converted to lower case when transferred to the server via FTP. So, although your links between documents may work just fine in all upper case on your PC, they will not on the server unless the link exactly matches the name of the file with respect to case! For this reason we recommend you use lower case in your anchors to other documents and images in your directory.

Design Hints and Tips
Here are some hints to help you avoid making one of those "annoying" web sites.

Broken links.
Always make sure that all your links are up to date.

Browser-specific sites. These sites demand a specific browser ("best viewed with Brand X browser"). They may also require you to download obscure plug-ins. Optimizing a site for Netscape 2.0 may be less flashy than most, but at least it will not crash the client browser.

No contact information. Always place contact information where it can be easily found or easily seen. A good location for this information is at the bottom of the page in a footer. A link in plain view indicating that contact information can be found within is also acceptable

Frames. Done badly, they can drive a sane person nuts. Frames that don't scroll (but should). Frames that do scroll (but shouldn't). Too many frames, which produce a miserable patchwork effect (and a headache). Sites that are "stolen" and framed elsewhere. And the worst is framing another site that also uses frames. If you want to use frames you should take the time to test the site before going public with it.

Sites that open new browsers. If you have a site that opens up a new browser, then you should seriously consider if there is a good purpose served by doing such. Spawning new windows on a client machine can consume memory on that computer and irritate the user to the point of never returning to your site.

"Under Construction" signs. Most of the Web is under construction the majority of the time.

Using tables on your webpage. Every browser will read tables a little differently, so please take the time to view the page through an assortment of browsers to make sure that the page is viewable by the different browsers.

Hiring a Web Designer to design your webpage. Please ask if this page will be viewable by most browsers. Some Web Designers like to use some of the new tags and add-ons available, which is fine, but if it inhibits your page from being viewed by most of the people on the web, then there is a problem. Usually if you talk to your Web Designer, he or she will work with you to get the page you want. And if someone ever tells you they can't, then you should consider finding another company to work with. And a final note: Please try to learn basic HTML, even if your web editor does all that for you, or you are using a Web Designer. It will give you a better hand when dealing with your page and others.

How do I upload my pages and images to the server?

There are two ways to do this: by using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client over your SLIP/PPP connection, or by uploading through zmodem or other procotols when dialed into your Shell account.

First, you need to create a public_html directory beneath your home directory. If you're using the bulletin board as your shell, select the Unix shell escape from the Main Menu. From the prompt, enter
mkdir public_html

Uploading your web page over a typical dial-up (PPP) connection.

The most common method of uploading files to a remote directory on the internet is through a dial-up PPP connection using an FTP program, such as WS FTP.  WS FTP is probably the easiest to use FTP program available. You will need to configure your FTP program with the following information:

  • Host Server: shell.datasync.com
  • Remote Directory: /home/<your username>/public_html
  • Username: Your Username
  • Password: Your dial-up password

Uploading files through the Shell

Your home directory must at least have world execute permissions and your public_html directory must at least have world read permissions. They'll have these by default, so if you've not changed them, don't worry about it. If you have changed them I'll assume you know how to use chmod and won't go into it here.

Your home page goes in the public_html directory. Remember that it should be named welcome.html or welcome.htm. Change to the public_html by issuing the command
cd public_html

From there you may upload your HTML documents and images from your PC with Xmodem, Ymodem, or Zmodem. Check your communications software to see which protocols it supports. Zmodem is the fastest of these protocols and is recommended.

You must first initiate the receiving end of the file transfer from your account, and then initiate the sending end using your communications software. The shell commands for receiving files are rz for receive Zmodem, rb for receive Ymodem, and rx filename for receive Xmodem, where filename is the name of the file you are uploading. Zmodem and Ymodem will figure out the filename.

If you have a problem on the sending end, don't just hang up the line to break the receive command. You may abort it by pressing Ctrl-X several times (usually five will work).

Alternatively, use one of the Linux editors we have online like vi, emacs, pico, or joe to maintain your pages directly in your account and don't bother with uploading.

How can I use CGIs?

Common CGI resources, such as counters, are available on the HTML Resources page.

There is currently no support enabled for per-user CGI directories on our server, unless you have a Commercial Web account. If you find a CGI program you want to use and think will be beneficial to other Datasync users, mail the webmaster and we may be able to install it for everyone to use. We will only consider CGIs meeting the following criteria:
  • Source code must be freely available
  • Program must be free -- no shareware or moneyware
  • Must be something we can easily adapt for site-wide use. We don't have time to check out and install custom CGIs for everyone.

How can I make certain files only accessible by certain people?

To password-protect part of your site, you must place the protected files in a subdirectory beneath your public_html directory. private might be a good choice. In that directory, create a file named .htaccess (notice the period at the front). That file should contain something like this:

AuthName "My Private Site"
AuthType Basic
AuthUserFile /home/mylogin/public_html/private/.htpasswd
<Limit GET POST>
require valid-user
</Limit>

The AuthName string is what will be displayed in the authentication box to browsers of your pages. The AuthName directive requires quotes around it if it is more than one word. The AuthUserFile is the full path to the password file for this directory. Modify these as appropriate.

The .htpasswd file referenced here must contain usernames and encrypted passwords separated by a colon, one pair per line. We have a form which will encrypt passwords for you. The encrypted form of a password is 13 seemingly random characters. You can paste the form results into your .htpasswd file.

For example, if you want to add authorization for a user joe with password foobar, you would first encrypt foobar (one possible encryption is fCxnv45I9SsH6) and then add this line to your .htpasswd file:

joe:fCxnv45I9SsH6

To remove a user's authorization simply remove that line from your .htpasswd and upload it again.

Important: If you are uploading the .htpasswd and .htaccess files from a DOS or Windows computer, you must upload in ASCII, not BINARY, format so that the newlines get converted from DOS style to UNIX style. They will not work with DOS newlines!

This file is also easily maintained from the shell. The following shell command, if invoked in the directory where the .htpasswd file resides, will add an entry to it:

echo username:`crypt password` >> .htpasswd

where username and password are a username/password combination granting access to your directory. To remove a pair, use a shell editor or other tool.

Password Encryption Form

This form is here to provide a way to encrypt passwords without logging into the shell. This is something you need to do when creating or editing an .htpasswd file to control access to part of your Web site, for instance.

Note: The password will not be hidden when you enter it, so don't use this form when prying eyes are nearby. The results will be sent back with instructions to your browser to not cache them. When you get the information you need, you can hit the back button to return to this section.

Password to encrypt:

So how do I access my home page via the Internet?

Open the URL http://www.datasync.com/~user, putting your login name in place of user. For example, if your login name is bob, you home page would be located at:
http://www.datasync.com/~bob

If you made it that far, congratulations! You're on the web. Be sure to let us know so we can put a link to your home page on our page of users' home pages.

Restrictions on personal home pages

  • No advertising products or services of any kind. We do offer commercial Web space for that purpose.
  • Don't include pornography or anything that violates any applicable local, state, or federal laws.
  
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