WebSite Professional from O'Reilly & Associates is an award-winning Web server which runs on Windows 95 and NT 3.51 or higher. The Professional edition is the high-end version of the Standard WebSite server. In addition to the usual Web server functionality it includes many exciting features such as enhanced security, a new WebSite Application Programming Interface (WSAPI) and the Cold Fusion database application development tool. Other tools included with the product are the SpyGlass Enhanced Mosaic browser, HotDog HTML Editor, MapThis! image map editor, WebView for graphically managing your Web, and WebIndex and WebFind for indexing and searching your web.
Installation & Documentation
WebSite Professional comes packaged with three manuals: Getting Started, WebSite Professional Basics, and WebSite Professional Advanced Topics. These are excellently written manuals and provide detailed information for all experience levels of user. The WebSite Professional Advanced Topics manual covers everything you need to know about using enhanced security features, such as SSL and S-HTTP, Cold Fusion, the three CGI interfaces and the WebSite API named WSAPI.
To install WebSite Professional, O'Reilly recommends a 486 (or higher) Intel-based CPU with VGA video display adapter, CD-ROM drive, 40MB free disk space, and 16MB RAM for Windows 95 or 32MB RAM for Windows NT (3.51 or higher). I installed it on a machine running Windows NT 4.0 Server. The installation was easy to follow and used the InstallShield product to guide me through the process. During the process, you are prompted for information which includes your name, company name, product serial number and the destination directory for the software. If you choose to install all the components from the CD, including the Mosaic browser, HotDog HTML Editor and Cold Fusion, you'll require approximately 28MB of disk space.
Under NT, you can choose to run the Web server as an application or as an NT service. If you run WebSite as an application, you can choose to have it start automatically at login or manually. Alternatively, if you run it as an NT service, you can choose to have it run invisibly or to display an icon on the right-hand side of the taskbar. You can right-click on this icon to gain access to the WebSite server properties window (Figure 1).
To test your Web server installation and access the online documentation all you need to do is choose the Enhanced Mosaic icon from the WebSite Professional folder (or any other browser) and enter http://localhost/wsdocs for the URL. This will bring up the index.htm page which contains links to WebSite's online resources and demonstrations.
WebSite Pro Server
After you have installed WebSite Professional, you can perform most of the administration of the Web server by using the Server Admin application, which is accessible either from the Start icon on the taskbar or from the WebSite icon (if present). Within the Server Admin application, you can access a variety of tab pages for common tasks, such as setting up users and groups, defining URL and content type mappings, access control, logging, directory listing properties, CGI properties and so on. Figure 1 shows the General page in Server Admin.
Access Control can be established by defining users and groups and granting or denying them access to certain URLs. You can also apply IP address or hostname filtering as part of your access control. The design of the Server Admin application makes this kind of configuration easy to perform. One disadvantage is that you have to go through this process independently of the user accounts that you have set up under Windows NT Server.
WebSite has two types of automatic directory listing. (The automatic directory listing will be created whenever the URL refers to a mapping that doesn't have a default page such as index.htm.) The first one is a simple list which just gives the file names under the specified URL. The second type is called an extended listing. With this type of listing you can add header and footer descriptions to the listing. You can also have textual descriptions besides each file. The textual descriptions can come from a text file or can be pulled from the HTML document's <TITLE> tag. Figure 2 shows WebSite's extended directory listing.
Logging is performed to three files: the Access Log, Error Log and Server Log. These logs are written as ASCII text files to a location on your Web server's hard disk although you can also store the logs on a network drive. The Access Log records the URLs that are requested by people visiting your site and can be written in the Windows Log Format, NCSA/CERN Common Log Format or the NCSA/CERN Combined Log Format. The Error logs record any errors that occur on your server, such as invalid URL paths or requests for parts of the Web that are denied by server configuration. The Server Log records the time the server is started and stopped and any fatal errors that occur on the server.
Registering MIME types with WebSite is a breeze compared to some other Web servers which require you to edit the Windows 95 or NT registry. You simply go to the Mapping tab page and enter the file extension and the MIME type. For example, to register a PowerBuilder Window Plug-In, I would enter .pbd and application/powerbuilder.
WebSite supports HTTP 1.1 PUT so that you can remotely place Web pages onto the Web server by using tools such as Netscape Navigator Gold. The Publishing Control page within Server Admin allows you to apply user authentication to any URL in your web.
A nice feature of WebSite is that they have provided a WebServer object which is integrated into the Windows NT Performance Monitor. This object has a variety of counters which can be monitored, including the number of requests per second and the amount of data being received and sent.
Remote Administration of WebSite is accomplished by using Server Admin to make changes to the remote system's registry. This can be done both on a LAN and over the Internet provided that you've already completed some operating system and network configuration beforehand.
The SpyGlass Mosaic browser supplied with WebSite is an enhanced version of the browser originally developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
The enhanced security features in WebSite Professional include support for the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) version 2.0 and Secure HTTP (S-HTTP) protocols. With these two protocols in effect you can be assured of the privacy, integrity and authenticity of the transactions between your Web server and your customers or employees browsers. You can set SSL security on an entire URL path via the Server Admin application. S-HTTP security is applied on a per HTML document or CGI program basis. Before you can implement enhanced security on your Web server, you need to request and install a public key certificate from a Certification Authority such as VeriSign. WebSite makes it easy to administer your certificates with its Certificate Manager application. This application includes a wizard which will guide you through the steps involved in requesting a certificate. The WebSite Certificate Manager application is secured with a password to prevent unauthorized access to its certificate database. The WebSite Central Web site, http://website.ora.com/, contains an example so that you can see WebSite Pro running SSL.
Besides the Server Admin application, WebSite includes other useful administration tools, such as WebView, WebIndex and WebFind. I'll cover these tools here.
WebView provides a handy tool for viewing the Web pages that are installed on the Web server. This way you can see at a glance how your Web site is laid out and can check for any broken links. Figure 3 shows the WebView tool displaying the hyperlink view of a Web site. Any broken links appear as red crosses in the display. WebView allows you to view a Web site in other styles as well. These include filename, title, label and URL views. The title view displays the text contained within the <TITLE> tag of the HTML documents.
WebView is a powerful tool and contains other features, including access to the Server Admin, WebIndex and MapThis! applications, a variety of property sheets, and a set of four WebView Wizards. The WebView wizards are as follows:
The property sheets include General, Access, Diagnostics and Activity information as well as a Secure HTTP properties sheet where you can define security properties for URL paths of the selected document. A QuickStats summary report (shown in Figure 3) gives a quick report on the overall activity on your Web site.
- Find Form Wizard
- Home Page Wizard
- Under Construction Wizard
- What's New Wizard
WebIndex and WebFind
WebSite provides indexing and search tools by way of WebIndex and WebFind respectively. The WebSite Pro administrator can use WebIndex to create one or more keyword indexes on all or part of the Web. This is achieved by selecting the URLs which contain the documents to be indexed and then specifying certain configuration options prior to creating the index. For example, you can specify words to ignore when creating the index either from WebSite's own internal list or your own custom list. You can also create multiple indexes and then merge them into a single large index. WebFind is a forms-based CGI program that end-users of your Web site can use to enter single or multiple search strings which will return an HTML page with a hyperlinked list of matches.
Web Development Tools
HogDog HTML Editor
The HotDog HTML Editor included with WebSite is a code-based editor which means that you actually view the HTML syntax and then need to switch to a browser in order to preview your page. HotDog has a toolbar icon which allows you to quickly preview the image in your preferred browser. Other toolbar icons allow you to create HTML forms and tables via wizards which guide you through the process. The HotDog Editor has many useful features, including a tag list window which displays the most common HTML tags and allows you to click on a tag in order to insert it into your document.
The Map This! image map editor is provided to help you create image maps for your Web pages. Image maps provide a way for a single graphic within a Web page to provide access to multiple URLs. They're a great way to enhance a Web page, particularly a home page. To create an image map all you do is define the shapes and locations of sections of the image that you want to define for particular URLs. The shapes supported by MapThis! include rectangles, circles, ovals, points and polygons. You can save your map files into either the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) or Client Side Image Map (CSIM) formats. These are standard industry formats that are supported across multiple Web servers. (Client Side Image Maps are read by browsers which support this extension to HTML 2.0. It allows the user of the browser to see the URLs displayed at the bottom of the screen as they move the mouse over the image's hotspots).
WebSite Server-Side Java SDK
WebSite includes a Server-Side Java SDK. This SDK allows you to develop Windows CGI programs using Java. The SDK includes a set of foundation classes, a launcher named javaw.exe, and code examples. The class library and launcher support the 1.3 specification of Windows CGI. The class library is a package named WebSite.WinCGI and includes twelve classes shown in Table 1.
The SDK makes it easy to write server-side Java applications with its built-in capabilities for form processing and exception handling. The online and written examples show how the Java program can examine user-input in a form and return the contents back to the browser.
Another tool provided with WebSite Professional is the standard edition of Cold Fusion from Allaire Corporation. Cold Fusion provides an easy way to add database functionality to your Web site without requiring extensive coding. Cold Fusion runs as a process on the server and uses CGI or WSAPI to communicate with the Web server. It uses DBML (DataBase Markup Language) and template files to dynamically generate HTML pages and return them to the server and then the browser. Cold Fusion can communicate with any ODBC data sources such as Access, Excel, Oracle 7, Paradox and Microsoft SQL Server. The WebSite Professional Advanced Topics manual devotes several chapters to explaining how to use Cold Fusion with WebSite.
Other Development Tools
A recent addition to WebSite Professional is the WebSite Application Programming Interface (WSAPI). This allows a C/C++ developer to extend the capabilities of WebSite Professional with access to over forty server-internal functions. WSAPI also includes a compatibility interface for Microsoft/Process Software's Internet Server Application Programming Interface (ISAPI) and a FaultGuard protection scheme which is designed to protect the server from programming errors in WSAPI extensions.
To round off its support for Web development, WebSite supports Server Side Includes (with a page counter), a Perl 5 SDK (Perl 5 ported to Win32), a Visual Basic Toolkit and built-in FrontPage support. The product documentation explains how all these technologies can be utilized with Website and even provides a paper entitled "SSI, CGI, or API? Choosing the Right Tool for the Job," which can help you evaluate the pros and cons of each technique for extending a Web server.
WebSite Professional is a tremendous product! It wins high marks all around for its ease-of-use, technical functionality, documentation, administration and Web development tools. It therefore wins the JDJ World Class Award with flying colors!
Be sure to check out the WebSite Central page for more information about this exciting product. A trial copy of the standard edition of WebSite is available for download from O'Reilly's Web site at http://software.ora.com/, although it does not include the features for enhanced security, WSAPI or the Cold Fusion product, which are available in the Professional edition.
About The Author
Nick Evans is a Senior Associate with Coopers & Lybrand Consulting in Dallas and specializes in client/server and Internet consulting for Fortune 500 clients. He is a Certified PowerBuilder Developer and Microsoft Certified Professional and writes for several computer industry magazines. Nick is the author of an upcoming book from Powersoft Press on Internet application development using PowerBuilder 5.0. He can be reached on CompuServe at 102604.3142.