Getting it On(line)

After we get everything the way we think it should be, our next step is to move the site online and continue the development process. Actually, at this point most of the content and structure is complete, we just need to get online to test everything remotely (from our Web server) instead of locally (from our hard drives).

FTP

We use the ipswitch utility WS FTP Pro to transfer documents from our hard drives to the Web server where the site is hosted. WS FTP Pro is a great utility because it hides the ugly command line syntax of FTP, yet allows its users to control the transfer of documents and directory structures almost as if they were entirely situated on your local hard drive.You can try it out for yourself by downloading the shareware version from:

http://www.ipswitch.com/

Spelling

We used to spell check our Web sites online with one of two online spell checking services — Doctor HTML or Webster Online. But it seems that both of these sites have left cyberspace. Now, we use Microsoft Word or FrontPage 97 instead. With the new enhanced features of Office 97 Word, we can point to Web documents online or offline and let Word automatically highlight anything not in its dictionary. We strongly recommend that you too use a spell checker at some point in your publishing process.

Links

Next, we check all our links, both internal and external to our site. We use one of three link-checking utilities. Each of them accepts a URL and works from there. Each can be customized to fine-tune its link testing. This is often a lengthy process so we set a tool up, and then go watch “The X-Files.”

The three utilities we use to check our links include:

* Microsoft FrontPage97:

http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/

* NetCarta WebMapper:

http://www.netcarta.com/

* Tetranet LinkBot:

http://www.tetranetsoftware.com/

Validation

Our final site creation activity involves validating our HTML markup. We like to adhere tightly to the latest full HTML DTD in order to make sure we didn't violate its rules or just screw up our coding. That's why we test each document by using the WebTechs Validation Service. This also is a long process, so be prepared to devote some time to this task. Not only do you need to test each document, you need to make necessary changes, re-upload, and then retest each time you find a violation.

The WebTechs Validator is located at

http://www.webtechs.com/html-val-svc/index.html

A field box on the service page permits you to input multiple URLs for testing. We often create a text document with a URL for each page in our site. Then we cut and paste about a dozen or so URLs at a time into this box for validation. If you try to use more than 10 or 12 URLs at a time, the service may not process your request, or it may take a long time to deliver its feedback.

Another step we take to speed the validation process is to save all response pages to a file. This lets us return to the check form to paste another set of URLs. While the next set tests, we can examine results from the previous test. This is human multitasking at its best.


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