MS FrontPage

Where to Create Your Web Site

FrontPage stumps many new Web authors right from the start. The program prompts you to save a Web site before you really even know what you're doing. So where should you put it?

The best place to create and edit your site is out of the public eye, of course. There's no reason to subject visitors to your typos, or that chartreuse color scheme that seemed like such a good idea at first. So, to start, save your site in a private location. Later, when you're ready for others to view your work, you'll transfer your site to a live Web server where the masses can see it. The initial, or working, location for your Web site is called the development environment. Your development environment can be your computer's C:\ drive (a disk-based location), or you can use a Web server that's not public (a server-based site). The process of transferring your site from the development location to a live server is called publishing.

You'll read all about publishing in Publishing Your Site. Meanwhile, where should you set up your development environment? Your options, and what you should know about them, follow.

Creating a Disk-Based Web Site

You may have no choice but to create and edit Web pages on your regular desktop or laptop computer. After all, very few people have a full-fledged Web server at home, and renting space on somebody else's Web server can cost you. When you save your Web site on your local computer, you create what's known as a disk-based site, and FrontPage is happy to help. You can save your site in any folder you want (with the exception of the root of your C:\ drive).

Do not save a FrontPage Web site directly on the root of your C:\drive (meaning the location should never be something like C:\mysite). When you delete a Web site, FrontPage removes everything that's in the folder where the site is stored. Plenty of unseasoned FrontPage owners have experienced the stomach-sinking feeling of turning their PCs into expensive paperweights by, in effect, performing a lobotomy on their machine. Save your Web site anywhere but the root of C:\.

If you work in a disk-based environment, you'll encounter one drawback. Some Web site featureslike a form to collect data from visitors, for instancerequire software that exists only on a Web server. FrontPage lets you add Web features like this within a disk-based site, but you won't be able to see them in action or test them until you transfer your site to a Web server.

Creating a Server-Based Web Site

You can do fine working with a disk-based Web site, but if you develop your site on a Web server (a server-based site), you gain some advantages. First of all, most Web servers come with special software that some components of a Web site need in order to function. For instance, if you want visitors to be able to search your site, you can add a search box to one or more of your Web pages. It doesn't matter if you're creating your site on your own computer or on a Web serveryou can add this feature either way. However, in a server-based development environment, you could test your search function right awaythere's no need to wait until you upload your site to see if it works.

Also, if you want to do something like have your Web pages pull information from a database (useful, for example, if you're site publishes a catalog of constantly changing products), you'll want a server-based development site. Data retrieval functions like these work only on a Web server. This Web server might be part of your corporate or home network, or you might access the server from home, over the Internet (see Figure 10-1).

Figure 10-1. Depending on where you create your site, you'll see a different path in FrontPage's title bar. At top, the disk-based site shows a path on your local computer. At bottom, the server-based site shows your site's URL.

FrontPage Server Requirements

So, certain Web features require a Web server to run. That makes sense. But, beyond that, FrontPage has its own special requirements. To help FrontPage execute advanced Web functions like site searches, Microsoft developed its own custom software for Web servers. The company offers two varieties of this server-side technology: FrontPage Server Extensions (FPSE) and SharePoint Services. Even if you're working in a disk-based development folder, your live Web server needs to have one of these programs for some advanced features to run. Publishing Your Site tells you all about which features these two server-side programs control. You'll also want to make sure that if you're renting Web server space, you do so from a Web-hosting company that's friendly to FrontPage authors. (Check out Microsoft's list at