Running a Perfect Web Site with Windows NT, with CD

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This ultimate reference for building and maintaining a Web site with Windows provides all the software and documentation you need to turn any PC running Windows NT or Windows 95 into a fully functional Web site. Step-by-step instructions show you how to install and configure each component of a Web server. You'll also learn how to create and manage an intranet server. A hands-on approach using numerous examples and the tools on the CD-ROM provide everything you need to make an effective Web site. And, expert ...
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Overview

This ultimate reference for building and maintaining a Web site with Windows provides all the software and documentation you need to turn any PC running Windows NT or Windows 95 into a fully functional Web site. Step-by-step instructions show you how to install and configure each component of a Web server. You'll also learn how to create and manage an intranet server. A hands-on approach using numerous examples and the tools on the CD-ROM provide everything you need to make an effective Web site. And, expert advice guides you through the complete maintenance and securing of your server.

All right, already, you've heard the buzz about designing and maintaining Web sites on Windows NT, you just aren't sure how to do it. That's where Running a Perfect Web Site with Windows is here for, with all the information and software tools you'll need to turn your PC into a Net server running a fully-functional site. Step-by-step instructions will teach you how to install and configure your server, design, post and maintain a Web site and ensure your server security. Your pages will be amazing-looking and fun to read with the help of Running a Perfect Web Site's graphic and design tips. This book isn't strictly for NT users, as it also has Windows 95 tips, but building a site with NT is fully explained. The included CD-ROM provides all the tools and utilities you'll need to set up a WWW site, including WebQuest for Windows NT/95.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789707635
  • Publisher: Macmillan Computer Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/1/1996
  • Pages: 678
  • Product dimensions: 7.33 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 1.71 (d)

Table of Contents


Part I - Planning your Web Server
The State of the World Wide Web
Introduction to Web Servers
Setting up your WWW presence
Part II - Setting Up your Web Server
Getting Started with your Web Server
Configuring your Web Server
onfiguring your Microsft Internet Information Server
onfiguring your QuestStar WebQuest Server
Managing an Internet Web Server
Part III - Doing HTML
Creating and Managing an Internal Web Server
Basic HTML: Understanding Hypertext
HTML 2.0, 3.0 and Extensions
HTML Editors and Tools
Graphics and Image Maps
Part IV - Forms and Scripting
HTML Forms
CGI Scripts
New Scripting Options
Part V - Applications
Search Engines and Annotation Systems
Usage Statistices and Maintaining HTML
Database Access and Applications Integration
Integrating BackOffice
Financial Transactions
Interactive and Live Applications
Appendixes
A. Using the Webmaster CD
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First Chapter



Chapter 1 - The State of the World Wide Web

The World Wide Web continues to grow faster than any other segment of the Internet. Its graphical interface and hypertext capabilities have caught the fancy of Internet users and the media like no other Internet tool in history. Businesses, schools, government and nonprofit organizations (in addition to millions of individuals) are flocking to the Web to promote themselves and their products in front of an audience spanning the entire planet.

It's difficult to watch a sporting event, a commercial, or even the news without seeing that increasingly familiar http://- telling us of yet another enterprise on "the Web." Because of the Web's popularity and its cost-effectiveness as a marketing tool, the World Wide Web is quickly becoming the electronic marketplace of the decade.

In this chapter, you learn:

  • Where the Web has been
  • How Web usage is changing
  • How you might do business on the Web
  • Where the Web is going

The Web's Phenomenal Growth

The Web is now accessible in over 100 countries on all seven continents, and its information and services range from the esoteric to the absurd. Web sites are maintained by universities, companies, public institutions, states, cities, and even high schools. A number of powerful search engines allow rapid information location and retrieval, making the Web the ultimate tool for research, interactive entertainment and yes, even advertising.

The cutting edge of Web technology attacks two distinct problems. The first, with the most exciting prospects for end users, deals with adding movement-animation-to Web pages; unlike today's static page, tomorrow's Web page may feature animated characters, marquees that scroll across the browser window, even full-motion videos. The second, and of most interest to Web-based businesses, deals with how to send confidential information (specifically, credit card numbers) safely and secretly across the Internet, a network not originally designed for open transactions. Progress is being made on both fronts daily; watch the Web for the latest news!

In January 1993, there were only 50 known Web servers in existence. Today, the Web has become the largest source of traffic on the Internet. Table 1.1 shows the growth of the Web relative to other Internet services on the Internet. You can find more details about Internet usage from Nielsen Interactive Services at http://www.nielsenmedia.com/whatsnew/ and http://www.nielsenmedia.com/demo.htm. As was mentioned earlier, Web servers are in almost every developed country in the world.

Table 1.1 measures Web traffic three different ways. Ports provide a means to route network data to the appropriate service on a network computer (you can think of ports like numbered portals at a ballpark-they direct ticket holders to the appropriate section of the stadium). Each network service uses a standard port; by noting how much traffic is directed to port 80 (the Web port), you can gauge how much network traffic is Web traffic. Pkts or Packets, are discrete packages of data sent across the Internet (you can think of them roughly like individual words in the dialog between computers over a network). Counting the packets gives you an idea of how heavily a network is being used. Bytes are another means of measuring the amount of data flowing through a network.

If you're interested, a list of all registered servers is available from http://www.w3.org/hypertext/DataSources/WWW/Servers.html.

Table 1.1 Growth of World Wide Web Traffic
Percentage of Total Byte Traffic Change on the NSF Backbone in a Four Month Period
Service Name Port Rank % Pkts Rank % Bytes
ftp-data 20 1 18.758 1 30.251
www 80 2 13.122 2 17.693
telnet 23 3 10.357 6 3.715


Service Name Port Rank % Pkts Rank % Bytes
www 80 1 21.443 1 26.250
ftp-data 20 2 14.023 2 21.535
nntp 119 3 8.119 3 8.657

As table 1.1 illustrates, the World Wide Web already comprises more traffic than any other Internet function. Despite the fact that the Web has been in operation for several years now, it's still able to grow at a rate of almost 20 percent a year. By the end of 1996, it's quite possible that the Web will account for more traffic than all other Internet activity combined!

The World Wide Web traffic in table 1.1 reflects only connections to World Wide Web servers. Web browsers can also connect to FTP (File Transfer Protocol), Gopher, and other types of servers.

But do we know anything else about who is actually on the Web? The Nielsen study mentioned in earlier tells us quite a bit about who is on the Net. Among the findings:

  • 56 percent of WWW users were between 25-44 years old.
  • 64.5 percent of users were male.
  • 88 percent had at least some college education.

The Growing Marketplace of Web Servers

As a recent survey of Web servers indicates, last year's most popular servers were free UNIX-based servers. Just four months later, more and more users were willing to pay for their servers, turning to Netscape, WebSTAR, and WebSite among others. There is also a wide range of individual sites being powered by a wide variety of other servers not shown in the table below; last month alone, twelve different PC-based Web servers were released.

Table 1.2 Growth of Commercial Web Servers
Change in Free versus Commercial Servers Used at Active Web Sites over a Four-Month Period
Server 9/95 1/96
NCSA (free) 54% 41%
Apache (free) 7% 17%
Netscape 8% 13%
CERN (free) 17% 11%
WebSTAR/MacHTTP 5% 6%
WebSite 1% 14%
BESTWWWD (best.com) <1% 2%
OSU (Region 6) <1% 1%
Purveyor <1% 1%



This information comes from Paul E. Hoffman's survey of the servers used on the Web, available at http://www.proper.com/

The Web Offers a Wealth of Opportunities

Although the next section talks about specific opportunities for business on the Internet, there is little doubt that there are some huge benefits to being on the Web today. In business, numbers speak volumes. There is no doubt that the Web has them. Web users are generally educated, professional middle to upper-middle class people who want to use the Web for information, research, fun, and even for purchasing products.

In addition to the obvious opportunities on the Web are its obvious inherent advantages to other media. Instant access is probably the biggest. Many commercial sites report thousands of visitors within the first days of operation. Electronic malls are appearing everywhere, and financial transactions are becoming safer all the time.

The best thing about the Web, of course, is that it isn't going to go away. It's only going to get bigger and bigger. Connections will get faster, computers will get better, programming will get slicker and access will get better. It's hard to imagine a downside in this Brave New World.

Conducting Business on the Web

So, you're convinced. The Web is the greatest thing since tail fins, right? Well, almost. There are definitely a lot of advantages to doing business on the Net (as well as some pitfalls), and it will definitely be helpful to know about some of them. Who's out there? What are they like? Are they ready to buy your product? Who's doing business on the Web?

Some of those questions are easy to answer. We know that there are a lot of educated professionals on the Internet. We also know that many of them are involved in education, research and industry. It's time to dig a little deeper and find out a little bit about how the Web can serve businesses and consumers of all kinds.

Generating Sales

The Web has proven that people will come-in droves-to the Internet if it's easy to use, accessible, and useful (and, well, sometimes even if it's not so useful). For those in business for profit, a "presence on the Web" (that is, putting pages on the Web) has one basic goal: increasing sales. However, most companies that have a Web presence don't use the Web for direct sales (although many do). A Web presence can be used to indirectly increase sales, by offering information about a product or service that must be purchased elsewhere, or just by increasing customer awareness of the company or its offerings.

Here are three examples of different ways that companies use Web pages to directly-or indirectly-generate sales.

Many companies, such as CD-Now, are concerned with marketing a specific product (see fig. 1.1). Very little "advertising" or name-recognition is involved. They offer a product, and they hope people buy it.

Fig. 1.1 - CD-Now is a Web-based company that sells music on the Internet

Many companies maintain a "Web presence," but do not sell products directly over the Internet (see fig. 1.2). They hope that you will read about their products or services on their Web page, and make your purchasing decision based on that information.

Fig. 1.2 - GISD is a Michigan company that provides Internet training and other services.

A site on the Web also enables companies to keep their name before the public. Even major movie and television studios, car companies, and beverage companies that already have wide (or global) name recognition use the Web to further their corporate image and sales (see fig. 1.3).

Fig. 1.3 - Even Coca-Cola, known the world around, advertises on the Web.

Companies who use the Web for this purpose are often service-based businesses, such as Global Information Services & Design in Michigan. Still others offer products that are just very difficult to sell over the Web and for whom product familiarity is of utmost importance. Again, these types of companies are generally national in nature or are service providers of some sort.

Table 1.3 shows what businesses reported when asked what they used the Web for. As you can see, many of the functions already being employed through other media are being utilized on the Web today.

Table 1.3 Business Usage of the Web
Percent of Business WWW Users Who Have Used Web Pages To...
Collaborate with others 54%
Publish information 33%
Gather information 77%
Research competitors 46%
Sell products or services 13%
Purchase products or services 23%
Provide customer service and support 38%
Communicate Internally 44%
Provide vendor support and communications 50%

Who Is Your Audience?

It's time to talk about a few specifics about who exactly is on the Internet, and whether they actually buy what a business has to sell. We're going to return to the Nielsen survey for some more statistics that were gathered from 280,000 telephone interview nationwide.

If you're interested in getting a copy of the full report, The Final Report is available for purchase from CommerceNet (phone: 415-617-8790; e-mail: ) and Nielsen Media Research (phone: 813-738-3125; e-mail: interactive@nielsenmedia.com).

So what did the Nielsen survey find? Well, over 2.5 million Americans have purchased products and services over the WWW. Again, as with all other numbers, these too will continue to grow. Earlier in the chapter, you were given a glimpse of some general demographics of users. The survey showed specific results important for businesses.

  • 25 percent of WWW users had incomes over $80,000 a year.
  • 55 percent of users have used the Web to research products or services and 14 percent have actually purchased them.
  • There was a user base of 18 million Web users in the United States and Canada.

Cautionary Note

As rosy a picture as the Web paints, there are some downsides. The biggest is that any Internet survey or usage statistics fail to take into account the still large majority of people who do not access the Internet. Even with 18 million users online, that still leaves over 300 million people in the U.S. and Canada alone who are not yet online-plus the countless millions around the world who have yet to join the Internet community either because they don't have access, or because the vast majority of Web traffic is conducted in English only.

This also brings up another point. There is a danger in marketing exclusively to those who use the Internet. The users of the Internet make up an affluent minority; people who don't own computers or who don't use them for Internet access are still responsible for most of the purchases made in the U.S. today. The Internet won't be a universal marketing medium like television or radio until the still-unconnected majority comes online.

The Internet is not yet (nor will it likely ever be) a panacea for everyone's advertising and marketing woes. It's another tool that can, and should, be utilized along with other more traditional media.

The Future of the Web

Now that you have a better idea of where the Web has been and where it is-wouldn't you like to know where it's going? Wouldn't we all? A popular TV commercial shows all sorts of fanciful futuristic gadgets as being the future. The commercial ends with the conclusion that each possibility is likely and it's sheer guess-work as to what the future will actually hold. To an extent, that commercial is right, but we can make some educated guesses.

We know that many advances are being made in technology that are now used on the cutting edge. Although we can't know exactly what everything will be like later, we can draw some general conclusions.

Room for Improvement

There's no doubt the Web's popularity has benefited in no small part from increased public awareness and the availability of dial-up Internet connections. But, let's face it, every time you have to wait while your modem slowly downloads particularly complex Web-site graphics, you know that the Web still has a long way to go.

Not only are there problems with access speed, but, as was mentioned in the last section, a large segment of the population remains unconnected. And, as with most computer endeavors, the Internet has, up until the last year or so, been dominated by those in the computer field. Only now is this fact beginning to radically change as the Internet becomes more of a mass media.

The old maxim of "one bad apple" spoiling it for everyone also holds true on the Internet. Problems with credit card commerce on the Internet have become popular targets for media attention-not all of it balanced or accurate. Credit card owners face risks every time a card is used (Did the waiter make a copy of the number? Can I trust the telemarketer not to steal my number?) far greater than the possibility that someone may siphon a card number off an Internet transaction. Internet commerce is still risky-but in the context of other, everyday risks, it's much safer than "popular wisdom" may suggest.

Less Expensive, Faster Internet Connections

In the past, getting a full connection to the Internet required a high-speed leased telephone line and expensive networking hardware. As a result, only businesses and large institutions could afford Internet access. This limited the Internet's usefulness for commercial purposes. However, the introduction of high-speed modems and dial-up Internet Service Providers (ISPs) has made WWW access from home both possible and practical.

The breakthrough that made a connection to the Internet as close as your telephone was the development of Serial Line Internet Protocol and Point-to-Point Protocol (SLIP and PPP). These protocols enable you to connect your home computer to the Internet via an ordinary modem, avoiding the expense of a leased line and connecting hardware (albeit at a significant cost of speed).

"SL/IP" is equivalent to "SLIP." Both refer to Serial Line Internet Protocol; this book uses SLIP.

But as we expect more from the Net, standard computer modems often don't do the job. The use of ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) lines has recently become more popular, but even this solution brings up the problem of needing specialized add-on cards and protocols. ISDN is more expensive than standard phone lines, and is not available in many areas. As an example, at the time this chapter was written, a typical ISDN line in North Carolina cost over $200 for installation, plus an additional $75 per month to maintain (for more on ISDN, go to http://www.bst.bls.com/bbs/isdnintr.htm).

Two areas that seem to hold a lot of promise in our quest for cheap, fast Internet connections are cable and satellite. Satellite transmission is probably farther away, but some cable companies in the United States are already offering Internet through the same line you receive your TV stations. One example is TCI in East Lansing, who already offers 10Mbps Internet connections (that's megabits per second, versus the current 28.8 kilobits per second of an ordinary modem) for under $50 a month. It's expected that these types of connections will only get cheaper and more widespread in the future.

A Larger, More Diverse Audience

Undoubtedly, the people that use the Internet will also change. Many factors will cause the number and types of Internet users to expand in the future.

As more and more schools, libraries, community colleges and other public institutions get connected, those who use these facilities will also become users. In addition, ISP rates will continue to fall and, as Internet Service becomes available through more accessible and accepted means (such as cable) people's fear of technology will also continue to decrease.

One of the last factors involved in increased usage will stem from a not-so-obvious source. In the past, if you wanted Internet service, you had to contact the provider, install the software, make the connection, and basically go through a lot of trouble to get online. However, with the breakout of Windows 95, OS/2 Warp and other Operating Systems, the Internet is now built-in (see fig. 1.4). When Internet access becomes as easy as buying your computer, plugging it in and getting online, a large barrier to access will have been removed.

Fig. 1.4 - Microsoft's Internet Explorer incorporates the same functionality as Netscape right out of the box.

Customized Service

It's not science fiction anymore. Click on your computer screen to order your favorite movie and watch it appear on your TV (or computer monitor) 30 seconds later. Get e-mail from companies who know just what you like and don't like and who offer you "tailor-made" products and services. Fire up your Web browser and talk live, with video, to your brother in California. These services, and more, are either already here or will soon be here.

With Internet connectivity, users and businesses will be able to teleconference with multiple sites at the same time at a comparatively inexpensive price. Several colleges have begun to offer radio broadcasts of their school's sports games over the Web so that alumni across the nation can catch the games. There is much more, and the Internet will bring it to you.

Super Web Page Design

Even as this book was going to press, exciting new possibilities are emerging for Web designers-ways to make Web pages literally come to life.

VRML-Virtual Reality Modeling Language-is an exciting new development that enables you to create three-dimensional "virtual worlds" to be viewed with a VRML-capable Web browser (such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer). For example, you can create VRML tours through buildings or landscapes, or view 3-D models of vehicles or devices. VRML is only in the earliest stages of development; the virtual worlds you can create are still very basic. Even so, VRML worlds are popping up like weeds all over the landscape of the Web.

Another exciting addition to the Web is Java (which was probably named in honor of the beverage that keeps the computer industry running twenty-four hours a day). Java is a system that enables you to create animated images on a Web page. The first Java applications will probably be animated logos on corporate Web pages (for example, Netscape has a sample animation featuring its Mozilla mascot), but other applications include marquees that "chase" across the browser window, product demonstrations-and, sooner than you think, even animated pictures, letting you wave "hello" to all the visitors to your personal Web page!

Webmaster Duties Increase

All these new technologies put even greater demands on the Webmaster, who must not only provide the care and feeding of the Web site-tending the server, creating and implementing new documents or applications, answering e-mail from remote users-but must also keep abreast of the ever-changing face of the Web.

Security alone takes up a great deal of a Webmaster's attention-staying a step ahead of the "hacker" by keeping up with the latest hardware and software is vital to any site concerned with protecting its resources. The newest Web technologies like VRML and Java aren't just add-ons that Web document writers can cut and paste into their pages-they require a great deal of cooperation from the Webmaster as well. Businesses that rely on the Web will put the greatest demands on their Webmasters-after all, who wants to be seen using yesterday's technology on tomorrow's Web?

Conclusion: The Web Has a Great Future

The future really is bright. We've already looked at many of the things that are available or soon will be that will make using the Web more efficient, profitable, and sensible. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of all these changes is in the opportunity presented to small organizations without a lot of computer expertise or a lot of money to establish a presence on the Web.

Thanks to dial-up SLIP and PPP, the cost can be as little as $30 per month. Because the Web server software included with this book can run using a SLIP or PPP connection, any home computer enthusiast can run a World Wide Web server from home for a small monthly fee. This will serve to open whole new markets to Web usage. Nonprofit organizations, local businesses, small niche-market businesses, or just an individual with something interesting to say-anyone can have a presence on the Web.

The types of media becoming available to users and providers of all types will continue to rapidly expand to allow individuals and enterprises to deliver (and receive) information much more quickly and efficiently. No longer is simple text and pictures available over the Internet. Many companies are already working on ways to deliver low-bandwidth audio and video over the Web that can be accessed by even high-speed modem connections.

Many companies advertise on the radio. What if you didn't have to buy 30-second commercials on radio stations all over town-instead, imagine that you could broadcast a 30-minute show about your business, every day, to anyone connected to the Internet? This may not be practical today in terms of how many may actually listen, but it isn't far off. Some have even pronounced the death of broadcast radio as sound transmission through the Internet becomes seamless and practical. Figure 1.5 shows an example of one company that is already taking advantage of the Internet for live broadcasts.

FIG. 1.5 - Sportline USA offers one of its popular talk shows live on the Web.

Compression techniques also continue to increase the feasibility of using video transmissions over the Web. Uses can range from video-conferencing (thereby drastically cutting the costs of doing business), to advertising, to product demonstrations and more.

Even Internet-savvy veterans are often lulled into thinking how they get information will continue to be the same. However, this area is not immune to change either. How we get information may change as much as the information we receive does. We've already talked some about Internet transmission coming through our local cable. Also, the possibilities for satellite transmission may not be too far off. Searching on the Web for information on wireless communications already yields hundreds to thousands of hits. It may not be long before you get your e-mail from the same dish as ESPN.

Lastly, it may even become unnecessary to read Internet information. Many companies have already integrated e-mail and voice-mail to be delivered audially. Can it be that one day you'll turn on our TV and, instead of channel surfing with your remote control, you'll Web surf instead? Don't be surprised if it happens.

The Web has experienced terrific growth in the first several years of existence. Fueled by applications in business, government, education, and research, all made available from home computers, the Web is poised to become the electronic marketplace and information source of the century.(a)1 1(b)The State of the World Wide Web 1(c)The Web's Phenomenal Growth 1(d)The Growing Marketplace of Web Servers 3(d)The Web Offers a Wealth of Opportunities 4(c)Conducting Business on the Web 4(d)Generating Sales 5(d)Who Is Your Audience? 6(d)Cautionary Note 7(c)The Future of the Web 7(d)Room for Improvement 8(e)Less Expensive, Faster Internet Connections 8(e)A Larger, More Diverse Audience 9(d)Customized Service 10(d)Super Web Page Design 10(d)Webmaster Duties Increase 11(d)Conclusion: The Web Has a Great Future 11

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