How to build a website for multiply purpose?

Hi all,

I am totally new to the world of building a website. The purpose of this website is for business. I want to start simple. Here are some steps that I envision.

1. like a internet bbs site. one article, followed by some comments by register users. like we see in wsj, etc.
2.when we click on the user who make comments, we can also see his profile, what comments he make to what article, etc. this function is similar to the Amazon's book review function. We can see the all the reviews of a registered user.
3. Different user can communicate to each other through the in-house system. There is possible money transaction involved.  Ideally, there is an option that they donot need to reveal their personal information to the other side to have this transaction. The business has a record of who they are. But they do not have to know each other. This stage is similar to skype calls.

I want to start simple, and later scale up. I am thinking about to start with some web hoster and start writing some codes, not sure if it is a good idea.

I suscept at the very end, the code should be at least at php, perl, javascript level. Not sure if it will ever need to go to c/c++ level.

I will start with something like ipage, godaddy and get a feeling on how it work. But not sure if something start with webhosting can be scale up all the way to something like experts-exchange, or amazon.

Any input is appreciated.
Thanks,
RDB
ResourcefulDBAsked:
Who is Participating?
 
VampireofdarknessCommented:
Once you save a file as .html, it is an HTML file. If you navigate to http://localhost/index.html it'll show your HTML file if you have it in the www directory. I assume this is you (http://www.wampserver.com/phorum/read.php?2,73874).

You can open .php files in Notepad, or any other text editor.

When saving as .html in Notepad, select "All files" from the 'Save as type' menu, otherwise it may add .txt depending on your configuration.

File > Save As > Set Save as type to All Files > File Name: index.html > Save

HTML, JS, CSS, PHP, etc... can all be written in any text editor, or you can download programs that will help you. What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editors will enable you to simply move objects around the screen and will generate the HTML for you.
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VampireofdarknessCommented:
You should not purchase hosting to test. That is a waste of money. Download a FREE WAMP server (WAMPP, Appserv, XAMPP) and install it. You can set up a local web server on your PC.

HTML is the elements on a page (<input>, <textarea>, <div>)
CSS is the style/theme of the site (colours, positioning, sizes, different states (inactive, hover, active, visited)
Javascript is DOM manipulation (moving things around, animations, dynamically changing content)
PHP is a server-side language that is considered easiest to pick up. It will allow you to do payment processing using APIs (ie- PayPal IPN), as well as hook into databases using...
mySQL is a database engine and the most commonly used as a starting point for PHP and databases.

This is a very narrow answer. It doesn't cover things like jQuery/mootools/other JS libraries, OOP, conditional CSS, different database storage engines / PDO and SECURITY.

I would recommend becoming fluent in the languages above in order. HTML, CSS, JS, PHP, SQL. The internet is full of FREE resources for learning these, so you do not need to purchase any learning material. Learning material may help, however, as it gives you a path to work along to reach a goal.

This will not be a 2 week task. If you are processing payments security is a massive issue. Consider outsourcing, or devoting YEARS to learning it all to a high standard.
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ResourcefulDBAuthor Commented:
VampireofDarkness,

thank you for the overview and putting them together. I now have a better idea on what I need to do if I build a local site locally. Here are some follow up questions.

Who will be able to access the local site with server in my pc?
When the website is ready to go live, how do we handle domain issue? We still need to buy a domain from a web hoster? or how we can set up the server in own pc, or rent a server somewhere?
If we want a team of people who are different locations to build different components at the same time, can a local server work?

Thanks again,
RDB

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VampireofdarknessCommented:
1. Initially only you will be able to access it. You can, however, configure port forwarding on your router (if you have one) and open port 80 on your firewall (if you have one) to allow others to connect. HTTPS is port 443.

2. You can either purchase a domain and webserver, or use a free domain server (such as dyndns) and host it on your PC. See #1. If you host it on your PC, you must leave your PC on all the time, have a static IP address (public) and have sufficient bandwidth and PC components (RAM, Processor). If it is a commercial site, you are better off purchasing hosting.

3. A local server can work if you open your PC in step #1. You may also want to configure FTP and install an FTP Server software on your PC to allow connections in.

NOTE: The more you open your PC, the more vulnerable you are to attacks from the outside. FTP is a common attack target as it is designed to upload and download files.
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ResourcefulDBAuthor Commented:
Thanks again. That takes care of basic server, hosting issue. Here is a question just after I download and installed WAMP to my pc.

I want to get one sample page up right away and wrote a simple index.html like
<html>
<title>
Hello there.
</title>
</html>

I put in the wamp folder, it did not work. Then I put in the www folder, it did not work either. There is a file called index.php in the www folder. And none of the files in WAMP folder end with .html. Why is that? It does not support html at all? What do we do to get it up and running in my local pc.

I guess the boarder question is how all the files in WAMP folder connect to each other and how does that connect to what will appear in /localhost/... ?

Thanks a bunch,
RDB
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VampireofdarknessCommented:
PHP is a server-side language and will more often than not override the index.html file. Try making a folder within www called 'site' and then navigating to http://localhost/site/

If you are only dealing with HTML files and not server-side languages (PHP, mySQL) you do not necessarily need to use WAMP. HTML, JS and CSS are served in the browser.

Your <title> should also be in a <head> tag.

<html>
  <head>
    <title>Hello there.</title>
  </head>
  <body>
  </body>
</html>

Open in new window


Don't forget to use a DOCTYPE. This tells the browser what 'version' of HTML to expect. HTML5's doctype is

<!DOCTYPE html>

Open in new window


The doctype goes above <html>

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ResourcefulDBAuthor Commented:
I see.  .php is in higher order. And WAMP is back end of website developing tool. We need more than that. Here are some follow up.

How do we set up a front end for the website. In this /localhost/, what folder do we put those .html files? And how does front end connect to back end?

Do we need to download anything to write html, js, css?

I thought a file is html right away once we save it with .html and guess I am wrong.

Here is why I think I am wrong. I wrote index.html in notepad and put in /site/ directory. then go there but only see a file with name as  index.html.txt  listed there.

Thanks again,
RDB
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