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FAQ - Web Development

Web Development Forum - Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the Web Development forum FAQ. Here you will find answers to a range of commonly asked quesitons on Web Development as well as a wealth of links to tutorials and resources to fulfil your development needs. Please take time to familiarise yourself with the rules and broswe this FAQ before asking a question, chances are that it's been answered here beforehand.

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1. The Web Development Forum

About this Forum
The Web Development forum is designed for discussions on all things related to Web Development. It's the ideal place for topics from HTML, XHTML, CSS and XML to SQL, ASP, PHP, Flash and other web-related subjects.

What is allowed here?
  • Any discussion topic relating to Web Development
  • Feel free to post your own site for peer-review/feedback
  • Useful resource links for sharing the community
  • Your web-design tips and (small) in-forum articles are welcome

What is not allowed here?
  • Spamming is not tollerated
  • Flaming, bad language, cross-posting, the usual stuff that's against GameDev forum rules
  • Any comments made about another user's site must be constructive
  • No ASP vs PHP / MS SQL vs MySQL threads unless they are unbiased and backed up by factual evidence. We all have our preferences, please tollerate those of others

About the Moderator
I am passionate about web development in many ways. My primary interests are developing online systems in ASP/ASP.NET, database design and web standards compilance.
Feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss or share development techniques or tips that will be useful to this FAQ or forum. My aim is to keep this resource up-to-date, so any community feedback is most welcome.

FAQ Credits
Special thanks go to:
  • LessBread - For links and information relating to Perl and his editing and contributions to the original FAQ
  • hellz - For the huge range of Flash resources he posted
  • Fuzztrek - For many extra tutorials and site links that haven't made it into this FAQ yet

  • The regular posters in the Web Development forum for being helpful in all things webdesign and really keeping this little community ticking!

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2. Web Design

Why do I need to make a website?
A website is your company's face across the Internet. For many people, your company website will be the first port of call when they need to find information about your company or products.

What do I need to make a website?
You can make a website in any simple text editor. However, many people now choose popular "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG) editors to create their sites, such as:

Macromedia Dreamweaver
Hotdog Pro
Mozilla Composer

What is HTML?
HTML is the "language of the web"; every web page you visit is created with some variant of HTML. The current official version of HTML is HTML 4.01
W3Schools publishes an excellent beginner’s guide to HTML.
The W3C HTML Homepage contains the formal HTML specification for all versions of HTML.

What is CSS?
CSS stands for ‘Cascading style Sheets’ and is a powerful way of customizing the layout and style of a website. It works by separating ‘style’ from the HTML markup, allowing users to make site-wide changes by altering a single style sheet. For more information see the official CSS homepage
Useful links:
CSS Zen Garden
Creating table-free layouts in CSS
css/edge - Examples of cutting-edge CSS features. Examines the future of CSS and attempts things that not all browsers support yet.

Are there any sites that will help me build my website?
Lycos Webmonkey has been running for several years and is often at the forefront of providing tutorials for the latest web technologies and trends.
W3Schools is another popular website and is useful for beginners and experts alike.

Browser Compatibility
IE 6 is the most common browser in use according to W3 School's Browser Statistics page.
In the past, there has been the trend to develop for one browser only, causing sites to break under a different browser. The W3C organization has been trying to remedy this by promoting web standards through XHTML, but the internet is a long way off.

Webmonkey has posted the differences between web browsers on their Browser Differences page.
Quirksmode takes an alternative view of web development and documents many broswer-specific features and bugs that don't adhere to the standards. A useful resource of CSS and Java-Script tricks and tips.

What is XHTML?
XHTML is the standardisation of HTML into a XML document. XHTML is an attempt to bring standards to the web by formalising the structure of HTML.

How do I validate my site's HTML?
The W3C has created a validation tool to allow web authors to validate their HTML markup.

What is Java-Script?
Java-Script is a client-side scripting language that can be embedded within a web page. Java-script is used to create dynamic web pages or to provide functions to the web browser that don't normally exist.

Useful links:
Mozilla Scripting Resources
W3School Java-Script
WebMonkey tutorials

What's the difference between Java-Script and JScript?
Java-Script was developed by Netscape in the early days of the browser wars. Microsoft responded by developing JScript. The language was standardized as ECMA-262 in 1998. Today, JScript is more commonly used in Active Server Pages as an alternative to VBScript.

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3. Web Hosting

Web hosting is your space on a web server in which all your files for your website are stored. A web server is a computer that is permanently connected to the internet and is configured to accept and process people's requests to view your webpage. While it is possible to host your website from your own computer using your own internet connection, many people purchase space from a 3rd party web hosting company. Most web hosting companies offer a range of plans to suit individual business needs, so it's important to assess what your needs will be before obtaining web space.

What should I look for in a web host?
When choosing your web hosting plan, you must first assess how much space you will need for your website's content (which includes text and media). Remember that unless you have several large media files or downloads, most websites can fit into 100Mb or less. Most web hosts will sign you up for a minimum year's contract, so it's important that your assessment must take potential website growth into account.

Bandwidth is an area often overlooked, but it is equally as important (if not more so) than web space. Bandwidth is the speed and amount of data transfer your host will permit from their servers (typically 1GB/mo); you pay a premium if you exceed this amount, so ensure that you correctly estimate the volume of traffic your site will receive in advance. Remember that if you host your 100Mb game download, it takes only 10 downloads of this file to step over your transfer allocation and start receiving charges.
When you pay for a web host, you often enter into a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with them. The SLA is the host's agreement to you that they will ensure a specified level of server uptime, bandwidth provision and server support (among other things). Within the SLA will be the host's own rules for the content allowed on their servers; many will disallow any illict and illegal material, so it's important to ensure that you do not break these rules.

Generally, you should ensure your host has:
  • Adequate space for your site now and the future
  • Adequate data transfer for now and predicted future volumes
  • Adequate bandwidth (speed); if the speed is to slow, users may be put off visiting your site
  • The database and server components your site uses
  • Several ways of requesting support
  • A satisfactory Service Level Agreement
  • Fast response speed to enquiries; this is often your first indication to how good your support will be

For more information on choosing your host, please refer to .net magazine’s excellent guide to hosting.

How do I register a domain name?
Your domain name can be an important decision for your company, it has to be simple enough to remember yet descriptive or catchy enough to attract attention to your site. Many web hosts will provide tools for checking and registering a domain name for you, however you can still find out information on your chosen domain name via InterNIC or the WHOIS tools on SamSpade.

For more information about domain names, please refer to the InterNIC FAQ

Hosting providers
Free Hosting

Inexpensive Hosting

Database Hosting
Many websites now use a database for content provision; coupled with the growing trend for Massively Multi-player Online games many companies are now finding that database hosting is a must.

Server Hosting
Sometimes, you may need your own server for your game or company website. Here’s a list of popular server hosts:

What is Co-Location?
Co-location is when you either purchase a server or install your own equipment in the host's data center. The datacenter will manage the server environment, security and internet connection, but leave the maintainence of the server up to you. When co-locating, you should ensure that the server has the appropriate software licenses and means of remote administration; often the most a host will do for you (without additional cost) is to reboot the server.

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4. Web Programming

What is server-side scripting?
Many new web servers will preprocess a web page before relaying it onto the clients browser. By embedding scripts into these pages, the server can change the way the page is created before it is even sent to the user. This allows a wealth of systems to be created, from simple database queries to forums and e-commerce applications. There are several types of server scripting environments, the most popular being ASP/ASP.NET on Windows, Perl and PHP on *nix systems and JSP on Sun servers.

Useful links:

What is ASP?
ASP is Microsoft’s answer to server-side web scripting which is coded primarily using VBScript or Jscript

What is ASP.NET?
ASP.NET is based upon the .NET framework. ASP.NET differs because the design of the site is separated from the code. ASP.NET is driven towards creating scalable web solutions and applications through the provision of Web Services

Useful links:
Microsoft’s Official ASP page
Got Dot Net
4GuysFromRolla run tutorials and articles on ASP regularly
ASPFree hosting and tutorials
CodeProject ASP tutorials includes a variety of excellent tutorials, from using data to creating full-scale web applications.
Tutorialized - ASP Page
Accessing ASP objects from XSL

What is PHP?
PHP is the most popular Open-Sourced web scripting system and is currently up to version PHP5. PHP typically runs under *nix systems, but there are binaries for Windows systems. PHP’s syntax is a hybrid of C and Perl.

Useful links:
PHP Homepage
Webmonkey PHP tutorials
W3Schools PHP tutorials

What is Perl?
Perl is a robust general-purpose programming language frequently used for creating CGI programs on web servers because it is faster than UNIX shell script programs, it can read and write binary files, and it can process very large files.

Useful links:
The Perl Directory
The Perl Journal
ActiveState Tools
The Perl Design Patterns repository
Perlfect Solutions Free Perl Scripts

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5. Backend Data

Many companies now use databases to store their web content. The growing trend in MMO games has also increased the need for a reliable database solution for the game industry. The two main types of database in use by web developers are Microsoft’s SQL Server and MySQL.

What is SQL?
SQL stands for Structured Query Language and is a standard language for accessing database systems.

Useful links:
W3Schools SQL Tutorial
Interactive SQL Tutorial

What is MS SQL Server?
SQL Server is Microsoft’s flagship database system for enterprises. While it is extremely fast and reliable, it may be costly for small companies. Find out more at the SQL Server product page.

What is MSDE?
Microsoft has created the SQL Desktop Engine, a small subset of their flagship SQL server product. It can be used for both web development and applications. It is available for FREE at Microsoft's SQL Desktop Engine website.

What is MySQL?
MySQL is the Open-Source competitor to SQL Server. It is reliable and the choice of database server for many small game companies.

What is MS Access?
MS Access is Microsoft's desktop database application. If you have purchased Microsoft’s Access database application, you will be able to upload and use your Access database for free on your website as long as the server is a fully licensed MS NT/2000/2003 server.

What is XML?
XML is a meta-language optimized for use on the Internet. A meta-language provides a way to create other languages or vocabularies. Many applications use XML as a way of sharing data between otherwise incompatible systems.

Useful links:
O’Reily XML site
W3C XML homepage
W3Schools XML Tutorial
Avoiding MSXML Pitfalls

How do I link ASP to my database?
Microsoft has provided the ADO (ActiveX Data Objects) library as a way of using data in a range of systems, including web applications.

Useful links:
ADO tutorial
ADO object reference
Useful ADO connection strings
CodeProject Database tutorials

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6. Flash Development

What is Macromedia Flash?
Macromedia Flash is a presentation package originally designed for use over the web. It has become the primary method of creating interactive presentations and applications on a range of devices. It allows designers to combine text, graphics, video and sound to create dynamic and immersive applications in a variety of fields including interactive web content and games. ActionScript, the in-built scripting language of Flash has opened up a whole new generation of games and is rapidly expanding as a online gaming platform. The current version is FlashMX 2004.

Flash resources:
Macromedia Tutorials
Flashkit Tutorials - A huge range of tutorials for many areas of Flash development
W3Schools Flash
WebMonkey Flash

What can I do with Flash?
Flash has applications in many areas of content presentation:
  • Presentations
  • Interactive menus for Cds
  • Interactive, animated websites
  • Animations: comics, even films have been created in Flash
  • The scriptable and interactive nature of Flash lends itself well to create a huge range of games
  • The limit is your imagination!

What is ActionScript?
ActionScript was originally based on Java-Script and is the scripting language embedded into Flash. The flexibility of ActionScript is the power behind the interactive nature of Flash, allowing it to become an extremely viable gaming platform.

Macromedia ActionScript dictionary - Online Actionscript reference from Macromedia - A huge collection of utorials on learning ActionScript ranging from beginning to advanced use
Flashkit ActionScript tutorials - A great set of tutorials from Flashkit

I want to make Flash games, where do I start?
Macromedia - Asteroids tutorial - Macromedia's own Asteroids game tutorial
Outside of Society - A great site for Flash game development, includes several tutorials and examples
How to build a shoot-em-up in FlashMX - A step-by-step guide on creating a shoot-em-up game in Flash
Flash Game Engine - The first tutorial on creating a game engine in Flash
Flash Game Design: Trigonometry 101 - A useful primer for Trigonometry in Flash, includes an example on animating a baloon in flash using vector maths
Tony PA's Tile-based game tutorials - Tutorials on making tile-based games in Flash
Flashkit Games Tutorials
Tutorialized Flash Games - A range of Games tutorials in Flash - Advanced Section - This section of is particularly of interest to Game Developers

Where can I find Flash game source code?
Many of the tutorials listed above contain example code for games, however here's a few extra links for full Flash game source.

Snake for FlashMX - Includes full .fla source
Skid WRX - A Car racing game with complete .fla source code

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7. Useful Web Add Ons

Where can I get scripts for my site?
Resource Index PHP
Free scripts from DevArticles

Where can I get an online discussion forum?
ASP users can plug Snitz Forums into their website.
PHP users can use the popular phpBB.

Where can I get a weblog (blog) for my site?
Hotscripts makes available an assortment of blog scripts. There's also MovableType, a powerful (commercial) community building tool that's fully customisable with plugins and supports multiple operating systems and database platforms.

What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
A content management system is a system used to manage the content of a web site. Can allow a content manager or author, who may not know Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), to manage the creation, modification, and removal of content from a web site without needing the expertise of a webmaster.

How do I create a Content Management System?
Here are a few links that should help:
‘EzyEdit’ tutorial
‘Content management made easy with ASP’
‘Building a Quick and dirty PHP publishing system’ tutorial

What is a Wiki?
Quite simply, "The simplest online database that could possibly work". Find out more at

Where can I get a Wiki?
Wiki Wiki Web has a useful list of Wiki engines you can use for your site. OpenWiki is an Open-sourced Wiki engine using ASP; it's very easy to install and use.

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8. Misc Tools

I need to validate my MIME headers!
Here's a tool to help you

Where do I find DNS information about my site?
DNS Stuff has a huge range of tools you can use. Another popular alternative is to use SamSpade.

Can I install multiple Internet Explorers under Windows?
Position is Everything Shows you how to install all relevant versions of IE next to eachother under Windows.

Can I install multiple Internet Explorers under Linux?
IEs4Linux lets you install Internet Explorer 5.0, Internet Explorer 5.5 and Internet Explorer 6.0 alongside eachother on Linux.

Last updated: 29th March 2005

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