Home Page Construction Set / ERIC'S TIPS FOR WEB AUTHORS

Server Structure

  1. Avoid using uppercase characters in your URLs. Most HTTP servers are case-sensitive. Therefore, there is a difference between
    Using capitalized names for your directories or documents tends to confuse your audience and makes document management more difficult.

    environments where you are not limited to 8+3 filename lengths, it is easy to get carried away and be too descriptive:


    Try to strike a compromise between ease of remembering (and typing!) a URL and being descriptive enough to allow you and others to distinguish between different documents.

  2. Package related pages and supporting materials together in directories (or folders). I have all of the pages in the Home Page Construction Set along with the related images in a single directory. This makes it easy for me to identify and locate all of the related files, as well as making copying the package from one server to another a snap. After you have accumulated several unrelated files in your HTML directory and need to find and edit one of them quickly, you can see why this tip makes sense!

  3. Make symbolic links from index.html. Have you ever opened a URL and gotten a messy directory listing instead of the document you were expecting? This occurs when a specific document is not requested (for example "/docs/" rather than "/docs/mydoc.html" and a file called "index.html" is not present.

    To avoid this, you should link the primary document in that directory (for example, "mydoc.html") to "index.html." The procedure for doing this varies depending on what type of system your server is running on. For Unix systems, you can usually create a symbolic link between the files:

    ln -s index.html primary_document_filename

    For other systems, consult your Webmaster or system support personnel for help on linking documents. Also, be aware that the Webmaster has the ability to turn off indexing, to change the default "index.html" to another filename, or to turn off symbolic linking. If linking does not work, you should consult with him or her to find out why.

    In short, once you link "mydoc.html" (as an example) to index.html, opening "/docs/" or "/docs/mydoc.html" will load "mydoc.html."

  4. Add a welcome/gateway page for your server and for major packages. This page will serve as the common entry point from the Web to your pages. Also, you can use the welcome page to warn readers of what's ahead (such as "Contains mature content" or "Requires a browser with forms support"). Use this page to give readers a choice of graphics levels or a listing of alternate servers. You should encourage readers to link to this page to give other Web users the same options and warnings. Obviously, this page should not contain large graphics or any background images since you want it to load very quickly.

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Last Modified: August 13, 1995
/ Eric Sasaki
gt7294b@prism.gatech.edu (feedback welcome)

All original content Copyright © 1994-95 Eric Sasaki. All rights reserved.