Possible Website Idea for me???

By SuperCheetah · 14 replies
Jun 6, 2002
  1. This is a quote from myself on another board I was on, but I was also wondering what some of you guys thought about it? Especially some of the more experienced programmers and website builders here (Julio especially ;)). Would this be too big of a project to undertake and if not where are some places I can know to learn how to do some of the mentioned ideas?

    Also, what programs would be best to do something like this? As you can probably see I'm new at this so any ideas you guys can offer would be GREAT!!!
  2. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    From personal experience I know that CGI could do this very easily (Think Perl!). You may even be able to find pre-made scripts that will do this for you. Check out resources such as www.hotscripts.com

    If you do plan on using Perl/CGI, I'll gladly offer any assistance you need. I'm currently working on a little project of my own. There are plenty of tutorials and guides out there. I'm a self-taught Perl programmer. I'm not a Perl genius, but I know my way around fairly well.

    Whatever you choose to use, you will have to have support from the server to run these scripts. This makes you pretty much limited to perl and ASP. I know very little about ASP, but it is a good scripting "language" too, from what I hear. It's also fairly popular. When looking for hosting for Perl, it is important to look for SSI abilities too.... There are only a handful of decent CGI hosts though and even fewer ASP hosts. So it may take some searching.

    If you are going to pay for hosting, you'll get a chance to use other technologies such as PHP and maybe even C scripts etc.. And there will undoubtedly be support for CGI/perl/SSI.

    This is all very doable with Perl though and should possible for a beginner to do depending on the scope of this project.
  3. SuperCheetah

    SuperCheetah TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 709

    Thanks for the reply Rick! :)

    I can't say I know anything at all about ASP (Active Server Pages I'm guessing). I do plan on getting a static IP address to host the site from my ISP. Anyone who know much this will cost me roundabout???

    Anyways, I'll have to start looking into this more and see what comes of it. Any other suggestions from other members are welcome. :)
  4. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Static IPs are trival in cost.. usually a smal payment of 5 dollars or so. If you are going to host this site on your computer (Makes sense if you are getting a static IP), then no aditional costs will be incurred. If you plan on getting hosting, then it will cost money.. And it will vary greatly upon the host itself. IT could cost anywhere from 5 bucks a month to 40 a month for sufficient hosting. A domain name will cost 20 to 30 dollars a year (typically).
  5. SuperCheetah

    SuperCheetah TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 709

    That's what I was thinking. I do plan on hosting the site if at all possible with a static IP address. The cost is easily doable its just the space that worries me. Right now I had two 60GB drives that I use for personal use, but I'd have to get another drive or two just for this project.

    Thanks again for the quick reply! :)
  6. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    What kind of project are planning!? LoL. Why would you need another two 60gb drives? Good lord man. ;)

    You can share your drive safely with nearly any HTTP server software. Any respectable software will allow you to choose a single folder as your root webfolder. You shouldn't need an entirely new drive unless you are really, really, really concnered about your online safety.
  7. SuperCheetah

    SuperCheetah TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 709

    I guess your right, I'm just a little paranoid I suppose. I do have an extra 20GB drive laying around that I could use.

    I guess the only thing to do now is to quit procrastinating and start on the design I want for my site. :)
  8. SuperCheetah

    SuperCheetah TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 709

    I'm thinking of using Dreamweaver MX and some of the other Macromedia products for this little project of mine. Anyone have any experience using these products and know if they are worthwhile? It seems like these products could do the job for me and not be too difficult to work with.

    I would appreciate any comments given. :)
  9. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Dreamweaver is hands-down the best HTML editor ever. I've used just about every software out there and I haven't found anything that comes as close to fullfilling what I want as close as Dreamweaver.

    Using a WYSIWYG editor (What you see is what you get) has some major advantages over hand-writing code. It's many times faster and much easier, which are the big advantages I think.

    Professional grade applications such as Dreamweaver also write excellent code. Dreamweaver, in particular, adheres well to HTML standards and writes the most elegant code you'll probably be able to get from an editor. This is another reason I like Dreamweaver so much.

    Of course, nothing is perfect and Dreamweaver does have some very minor flaws. The code is not always *perfect*. No software can replace good, old fashioned, human perception and logic. You'll have to be extremely picky and very professional minded to find any faults with Dreamweaver's generated code though. It is sufficient for whatever purpose just about anyone can come up with, but there are different ways to handle situations and Dreamweaver may not always pick the best approach. It's very good however and doesn't bloat your code often, if at all.

    One application in particular I would recommend you disregard totally is Frontpage 98, 2000 and XP. They are horrible (maybe not horrible), filled full of MS/IE proprietary code+features. It's very difficult to make a standards-compliant site in FP. The interface is fairly easy to use, but no easier than Dreamweaver for all intents and purposes. I think Front Page should be geared more toward the amatuer webmaster/site if anyone is indeed forced to use it. Hopefully that's not you. ;) For those professionals who do use it, I imagine they go over the code with a fine-toothed comb to fix up. It's not horrible, but it could be much better.

    Dreamweaver also has a nice manual code editing screen.. Where you can view the HTML code as colored tags. There are freeware apps out there that will do this for you, but this feature is built in and just another reason to go with Dreamweaver. You can also view code and rendered HTML at the same time, making it fairly quick to see what's going on under the hood, at a glance.

    Another part of most webistes is graphics. Adobe Photoshop or Corel Photopaint have my best recommendation. Just use whatever you are comfortable with though... If you are not familiar with any graphics programs and don't have a ton of monye to spend on these pro apps, then you might look for inexpensive alternatives such as JASC Paintshop pro. There might even be some freeware graphics programs out there. I know there are a number for Linux, and they probably have Windows ports or simliar Windows alternatives.

    Keep in mind, the better your tools are, the better your end results will be. This is important with all software, such as HTML editors or graphics programs.

    For information on design, authoring, coding and news, I find http://www.webmonkey.com a useful resource. Their javascript and CSS tutorials are excellent (If you plan on using any such things). For tutorials on Perl, there's not a single tutorial I can recommend. I got started on Perl using about.com's guides, so I guess they can't be too bad. For webpgaes, you'll find text parsing extremely useful and I suggest learning all you can on searching, replacing, matching and editing lists, hashes, strings etc.. Much of what you'll be doing will require this knowledge.

    I actually don't know of any good Perl editors, but I know they exist somewhere. I should probably look for one myself. I've been using it for years in notepad and I have to say it is a less than great experience. ;) Syntax errors take forever to find with notepad.. hehe! Most perl editors are shareware though, so you'll have to pay. I'd personally rather find something free... Afterall, it's just scripting.

    Anyhow, good luck on your site again. I'll help you out any way I can. Hopefully some other people can offer some help too. Looking at your website through my eyes is probably not what you'd like. :) It's good to have some different input.
  10. SuperCheetah

    SuperCheetah TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 709

    Thanks again for the detailed reply Rick! Seems that you and I are the only ones surfing the Programming Corner. ;) I downloaded the trial versions of Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, and Coldfusion MX from Macromedia's website to try them out for a month and see how I like it. They have a new product called Studio that has all these products into one for only $200 dollars if your a student that is (like me). :) I think I might go with it if I find it worthwhile.

    First and foremost though I need to get all the images and buttons and whatnot made. I have Adobe Photoshop 6 so I'll probably use that or Illustrator to do the job. I can't say I'm the most experienced at Photoshop, but I think I can work my way around enough to make what I want.

    I don't really know anything about text parsing. If you could elaborate just a little it would be great!!! I'm trying to do some searches and find out what I can about parsing. What exactly does parsing do?

    It seems that Macromedia's products work very well with each other so I'll try and stick with them. Hopefully I can get started makes all the images I need for my site soon and start coding. I really don't want to have to stop and make icons or buttons every 5 minutes while working in Dreamweaver. Either way I want my site to be unique and vibrant (almost seeming alive :)), but then again who doesn't. ;) Thanks again for the info. Rick!!!
  11. SuperCheetah

    SuperCheetah TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 709

    Ha!!! Just found out how to parse XML using Coldfusion.
    That's pretty easy although I still don't know how to call and get values from this. Oh well, back to the tutorials. :)
  12. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Parsing can be summarized as taking unformatted line of text from a string and extracting specific information from it that you need, or organizing the string.. etc.. It is basically manipulating text for your own purposes.

    For example, when you see a URL like this:


    There is usually a script that parses this URL to get information from it. Let me break it down for you..

    A script takes this information, and parses it into a usable format. The & sign is usually a seperator, seperating the values above. action=newreply is an example of the information we'll need to extract from the string.

    A script programmed to extract the information from this string would remove the & and = symbols and set "action" equal to "newreply". Then it would set "threadid" equal to "1756". The program can now use this information to do what it was meant to do.

    I realize you don't know Perl, so this might not make a whole lot of sense to you. But this is an example of text parsing if you are interested.

    split(/&/, $ThatURL);

    If $ThatURL was equal to "http://www.3dspotlight.com/vb/newreply.php?action=newreply&threadid=1756"

    This would break down the URL into sections, creating those sections at the & signs. So the first section would then be "http://www.3dspotlight.com/vb/newreply.php?action=newreply" and the second section would be "threadid=1756". You could then assign each section (known as slices in Perl) to variable(s) and deal with them accordlingly.

    I won't go into anymore detail, but when you decide to program in Perl, this will become very clear. It's a fairly simple concept that is used very often in text parsing.
  13. SuperCheetah

    SuperCheetah TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 709

    Ok, let me see if I understand this correctly. Your breaking the url down into the parts because you want to use specific parts for specific purposes. Next, you'll assign each section that was broken to specific variables (in the language your coding) and then take those variables and say create a database (an example) of the number of threads you have to date. Does this sound right? And you could take the other part of the url (the new reply part) and say record it as a new post count if you would want to count the number of posts in a thread or something like that.

    Am I making any sense here? I know these might not make good examples, but its what I thought of right off the top of my head.

    Could this be used for database purposes, like if you wanted to search out a band your looking for (hint: my website ;)) and find out information about them? I know this is a hassle for you Rick, and believe me I do appreciate it, but could you offer up one more completely different use for parsing? I think it might help clear up any confusion I might be having. Thanks so much again!!!
  14. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Sure. I don't have the time to go into great detail now though. I'll gladly write you a sample script when I get the time though.. Perhaps a script that allows users to rank bands in Perl.

    For now though, you can look at Webmonkey's movie review database script. It's a fairly simple script that will pull up movie reviews that are in the database. It's done with the beginner in mind.. Nothing really fancy.. Just straight forward and simple code-wise.

    Here's the example of the database:

    Here's the perl source code: (It is commented very well)

    And here's the entire tutorial
  15. SuperCheetah

    SuperCheetah TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 709

    Thanks for the links. I'll check them out hopefully a little later. Right now it's back to Biology. :(
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