This blog is devoted (mostly) to cutting edge Web and media technology. Today and in the next posting, we will look at two website development tools that I have found surprisingly powerful, given their simplicity and elegance.
One of them is WordPress, which can be run on Macs, WIndows machines, and Linux machines, and the other is Freeway (a Mac-only application). We’ll look at Freeway next time.
This is the famous blog server software, and in fact the ITKE blogs, of which this is one, uses it. What many people don’t realize is that it can be used to build more diverse websites.
First of all, it is extremely easy to install. Anyone, and you certainly don’t need to be a programmer, can build their own WordPress server. That means you have total control. There is no need to have WordPress host your site.
Here is what you need:
A domain and someone to host your site. I might suggest GoDaddy.com for both. You need your hosting service to provide access to the MySQL database management system as well. For the most part, you need to pay for your domain and hosting.
You also need an FTP program, of which there are very good free ones. FTP predates the web, and has long be used to move data from one machine to another one on the Internet.
Finally, you need the WorldPress software, which is also free.
If anyone needs pointers to any of these applications, just contact me.
I won’t go into the details here, but all you need is to download the WordPress software and make a couple of very simple changes to its configuration files. Then it is ready to go.
You must also create an empty database with MySQL. This is very simple.
Then you copy the WordPress software onto your hosted server by using your FTP program.
Again, if anyone wants more detailed help, just send me email. My address is posted in my bio on this blog.
Now, you just use your browser to build your site. You first choose a template and tailer it a bit. (I use the default WordPress 3.0 template.)
You then create blog entries and other webpages. You don’t have to use your FTP program again, as WorldPress will now do all your uploading for you.
You can do a few different things with WordPress. You can of course create a blog. But you can also build what WordPress calls “pages” (as oppose to blog “postings”) and they make up fixed tabs on your home page. In other words, you don’t need to make your site primarily a blog.
You can also create “widgets” to post links to other sites, point to RSS feeds, etc., etc.
WordPress will, as it turns out, use MySQL to store your data, but you don’t even have to know it’s doing it. WordPress takes care of all of this for you.
The definition of a “dynamic” website is that your site will build tailored webpages for your users. They tell your site what they want to see and the page is built on the spot.
Now, given that WordPress uses MySQL to store information that it plugs into pages that then get immediately downloaded, it technically is a tool for building dynamic websites. And there is a lot more that can be done with WordPress beyond what we have discussed here.
Still, I think its big plus is that it is almost trivial to install, very easy to use, and produces very elegant websites.
You can look at one of mine, if you want, which I set up for my 3D animation students: http://wordsbybuzz.com. It is part blog, part general purpose website, and you can download my animation lessons if you want. The are built with desktop capture and audio capture software.
Next time, Freeway.