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CCS Setting Up a Website

Every faculty, staff and student has the option of creating a website as part of their College of Engineering UNIX account. If you have an eng email address, you can create a website. the address for your website will be https://www.eng.famu.fsu.edu/~username, where "username" is your eng user name.

What is a web page?

A web page is simply a plain text document that is downloaded by a web browser and contains instructions telling the web browser what content to display and what type of content that is . This may include formatted text (a title, a heading, a paragraph, computer code, etc), images, or other resources. A web page, however, does not contain anything but text. If there is an image to be displayed, the webpage only indicates to the browser where the image is by internet address (relative or absolute url), where to display it, etc.

What is a web site?

A web site is a collection of web pages and related resources. These files are located in the file system of a webserver. As a student or faculty member at the College of Engineering, you have a website available as the "public_html" folder of your home directory (aka "F Drive" or "Mapped Drive") on the college's Solaris servers. Anything that you put into this directory is available on the internet through the address https://www.eng.famu.fsu.edu/~username, where "username" is your College of Engineering username.

Pitfalls to avoid

  • Do not use Microsoft Word or another word processor, or Microsoft Publisher to create web pages (see note at bottom of this page).
  • Do not use spaces in any file or directory names. Use underscores (_) or dashes (-) instead.
  • Do use relative links unless you are linking to a resource on another site.
  • Do name the default page in each folder of your webspace "index.html"
  • Do work entirely in a dedicated web folder locally while creating your site.

Creating Your Site

Create all your pages inside a folder. All resources (images, etc.) which the site will need should also be in the same folder, possibly in subdirectories as appropriate.

  • With a text editor

    1. Open a text editor. Notepad is a text editor available to everyone on a Windows system. On Mac you can use TextEdit. A more full featured text editor for Windows is Notepad++. Microsoft office is not a text editor and should never be used to create webpages. This includes the "Export to html" function.
    2. Write a simple web page. See W3Schools for a tutorial.
    3. Save your webpage in your website folder as index.html. The file name index.html is important. This is the default page for whichever folder it is in.
    4. You can preview your page locally in internet explorer by going to the file menu, clicking open, then browsing for the file in your "public_html". In Firefox use "file" | "Open File"
  • Using a WYSIWYG editor

    If you would like to use a word processor like environment, it is suggested that you use the Nvu WYSIWYG editor. It is free and simple to use. It is also already available on all of the lab and kiosk computers at the college. There are versions available for Windows, Mac and Linux (as KompoZer, a KDE package)

    There are many videos on Youtube intended to help in creating web pages using Nvu.

    1. Explore the features of Nvu to create your pages. You can add images, internal and external links, tables, lists, etc. You can create external style sheets to create a themed look.
    2. Using the "Nvu Site Manager" you can add folders to your site, rename files and folders, and access a "tree" view by clicking on the "+" signs. From there you can delete or edit existing pages if you have any. Note that to delete folders you must first delete all content from the folder.
    3. Nvu uses a multi panel layout. If you want to see the source code of your work, just click the "Source" tab at the bottom. You can also edit the source, which allows you to correct code that the WYSIWYG didn't get right, or paste in html code from a template or pre-existing page.
    4. You can work on several pages at the same time. Just click on the "New" icon to create an additional page.
    5. If you get stuck, look through the help menu of Nvu. There is a lot of information there.
    6. Nvu does have a built in ftp publishing function, but we are advising against using it. The ftp protocol passes usernames and passwords in plain text. This makes it rather trivial for a third party to sniff your connection and gain access to your account. If you use FileZilla, described below, your information is being passed using SSL encryption.

Publishing Your Site

  • If you are working inside the College of Engineering building

    1. If you are inside the buildings and on the local network, navigate to your "F Drive " and go to the folder "public_html". (If you don not have a public_html folder, just create it). Copy everything related to your site from your local web folder to your "public_html" folder.
  • If you are outside the College of Engineering network

    1. The ftp method of accessing your home directory from outside the building is being phased out. The secure program previously suggested for outside access, SecureShell Client, is restricted in that it can only be downloaded from FSU if you are on the College of Engineering or FSU networks at the time. It is therefore suggested that you use the sftp client, FileZilla.
    2. For instruction on setting up FileZilla, see the FileZilla Wiki.
    3. Details for an SFTP connection to the College of Engineering:
      • Host: wolf.eng.fsu.edu
      • Username: your eng username
      • Password: your eng password
      • Port: 22
    4. When you are satisfied with your site in the local directory, simply navigate to it in the left pane of FileZilla, navigate to your public_html folder in the right pane, drag and drop.

File Permissions

If you are receiving a "permission denied" error when loading your pages, the permissions may be incorrectly set on file or directory you are trying to access. Files should be set to "644" and folders should be set to "755".

To check and set file and folder permissions in FileZilla, right click the file or folder and select "File permissions". This will bring up the file attribute dialog. Enter 644 in the "Numerical value" field if it is a file or 755 if it is a folder. When you are finished click "OK" then reload the page.

Directory listings, locking directories and logins

As stated above, the default page to display in any of your web directories is called "index.html". If you do not put an index.html in one of your web directories, a directory listing will be shown instead. The exception to this is your top level web directory (public_html). If there is no index.html in your top level directory, an "access forbidden" error will be returned. Since it is normally not possible to receive a listing of a web directory if there is an index.html in that directory, one "quick and dirty" method of limiting access to a web directory is to put a blank or trivial index.html file in the directory. A more fine grained method of securing a web directory is to use "Apache Basic Authorization". You may use Apache Basic Authorization in any web directory other than your top level (public_html) directory.

There are two ways that you can use Apache Basic Authorization within the CoE environment:

  • Using a password file
    • Using a password file will enable authorized people that do not have accounts on the College of Engineering system to login to your password protected directories.
    • Please see the Apache documentation for a description of the procedure.
    • Note that you will have to work on the UNIX command line in order to use this procedure. You should log in to "dingo.eng.fsu.edu" to complete the command line parts of the procedure, ie, running the htpasswd command. The program "Secure shell client" is available on all CoE computers to login to the UNIX system.
    • The description on the apache site uses "/usr/local/apache/passwd/passwords" as the location to store passwords. You should instead use a file in the root of your home directory. You can call it what ever you want. If you precede the name with a dot, the file will be hidden for normal directory listings (ls command). For example, a good location for the file would be ~/.htpass. (~/ is an alias for your home directory)
  • Using LDAP
    • Using the LDAP system is much simpler than using dedicated password files, but only people with an engineering account will be able to login to your directories.
    • It is suggested that you read over the Apache documentation linked above to understand what you are doing here.
    • To protect a directory using LDAP, put an .htaccess file like this in the directory to be protected.:
      
                                  AuthType Basic
                                  AuthName 'Protected Area'
              
                                  Require ldap-user username1
                                  Require ldap-user username2
              
                                  Satisfy All
                                  
      Where username1 and username2 are eng usernames which you would like to allow access for, and the Authname is any message that you want displayed in the login prompt.

 

Why not use Word or Publisher?

An html page is a simple text document comprised of easy to understand markup tags. These markup tags are of the form, for example, <p>, to indicate the beginning of a paragraph, and </p> to indicate the end of a paragraph. Even when using a WYSIWYG editor it is often necessary to edit the page with a text editor. The markup created by Nvu, or by "hand coding" is easy to understand and edit once you get the hang of it. There are also standards for web pages which are intended to ensure portability between servers and browsers (see the World Wide Web Consortium for details). Microsoft ignores these concerns. Pages produced by Microsoft Word and Publisher are very difficult to edit by hand, they use a number of features only supported by Microsoft servers and browsers, and in the case of Microsoft Word, the default format is not even readable by non-Microsoft browsers. (a binary format with embedded images called a ".mth" file).