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Site Development Information

This page has been tested and conforms to WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Guidelines

Website Development ...

This Site Development Bible is an authoritative review of the development of the Web-Wise-Wizard Website. It includes discussions on site Hosting, HTML validation, CSS validation, link checking, spell checking and spellings used, WCAG Accessibility, ICRA labelling, browser compatibility, scripting errors and error trapping, offline development, site CGI programs and a mini-glossary of terms used on the page.

Every product and service discussed on this page is FREE or FREE for non-commercial use.
Appropriate links to these products and services are provided at the bottom of the page.

This Web-Wise-Wizard site bible (authoritative document) explains and discusses the different technical aspects of the Web-Wise-Wizard site development that have been designed to provide users with a faultless viewing experience. The site incorporates many advanced scripting and styles techniques and because of this special care has been taken to develop perfect Markup, styles and scripting. The site has been developed on the browser side using hand-coded HTML Markup, hand-coded CSS styles and hand-coded JavaScript scripting. On the server side all CGI programs have been developed using ActivePerl and again, the Perl scripts are hand-coded. All site development was accomplished using the JGsoft EditPad Lite developers text editor. As you see each of the site features explained you will see that in many respects you can use this page as a web design howto.

Terms and meanings used on this page. Click on the name for a fuller description.

  • CSS  Cascading Style Sheets
  • CGI  Common Gateway Interface (a protocol)
  • DTD  Document Type Definition
  • FTP  File Transfer Protocol
  • Markup  Instructions for displaying text and images
  • HTML  Hypertext Markup Language
  • xHTML  Extensible HyperText Markup Language
  • JavaScript  A 'C' like scripting language
  • Perl  Practical Extraction and Report Language
  • PHP  A server-side scripting language
  • Semantic Web  A World Wide Web extension
  • SSI  Server Side Includes
  • W3c  World Wide Web Consortium
  • WCAG 2.0  W3C Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

Site Hosting ...

In recent years the cost of Web hosting has fallen dramatically and one downside of this is the large number of very poor hosting companies that have started trading on the Web. We found ourselves using three such hosting companies in a row and they caused us a lot of problems and fustration. Also, we lost a considerable amount of site traffic because of them although this lost traffic is now beginning to return. Because of our experience, we have now started to demand our money back from Hosting companies that are not performing to our satisfaction.

Added: 20-November-2014

Our preferred web server platform is Linux/Apache and we have now moved to a new hosting company called WebHost4Life. Their LinuxApache hosting plan is different to any other plan that we have used previously and we are becoming impressed with how well thought out their system appears to be. At the present time we are more than happy to use them to host the Web-Wise-Wizard site.

WebHost4Life are not the cheapest hosting company on the Web and if I had a criticism of them it is that their accounts and support departments appear to operate on Monday to Friday local (Los Angeles) business hours. If they made this plain on their Website then this could help avoid some fustration amongst users from around the World who keep different hours and expect Web businesses to operate on a 24/7 basis.

If you study the Netcraft Site Report for you will see that Web-Wise-Wizard is Hosted on a Web server that runs the Linux operating system and has the Apache/1.3.34 web server software installed. That is a great combination and is completely 'industry standard'.


HTML Validation ...

The HTML Markup on all our pages is tested and validated using the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) HTML page validation service. Most of our pages conform to the W3C HTML/xHTML Strict criteria and also to the WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Guidelines. Because the subject of the site is web design we sometimes discuss subjects that use Markup that is valid under the W3C HTML 4.01 Transitional criteria but is depreciated under the W3C HTML Strict criteria. These pages have to be tested and validated using the Transitional criteria.

Located at the bottom of each page is a white and yellow, W3C/HTML 4.01 or W3C/xHTML 1.0 'micro bar'. If you click this graphic you will see the results of the page Markup being validated by the W3C Validator.

CSS Validation ...

All the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) styles that the site uses are tested and validated using the W3C CSS Validation Service. This includes styles that are attributes of HTML tags, styles that are located in the style section in the HEAD of the web page and styles that are located in external style sheets. Located at the bottom of each page is a white and yellow, W3C/CSS 'micro bar'. If you click this graphic you will see the results of the page Styles being validated by the W3C Validator.

Link Checking ...

Broken links, whether they be image links or document links, are a curse on any website. All image and document links on this site, both internal and external, are checked periodically using the W3C Link Checking Service. The only 'links' that this service is not able to check are contained in JavaScript image preloading scripts and we check for this type of error by regular checking of the site error logs. In spite of this, if you encounter a missing image or a broken link then do let us know about it.

Spelling Used On This Site ...

Spell checking is accomplished using MicroSpell 9.1h. MicroSpell is produced by Trigram Systems, Pittsburgh, PA.

Web-Wise-Wizard is an international Website and we occasionally receive emails regarding our spelling of the English language. This of course stems from the differences between the spelling norms adopted by English speaking countries around the world, notably 'American' English and 'British' English. We try to internationalize our spelling as much as possible but certain words like color/colour, favorite/favourite or center/centre can cause us problems. These problems are particularly pertinent to a web design site where a spelling can be dictated by the context but we then have to switch to the other spelling which is dictated by the syntax of the web language we are describing.

Enough said but if you find any typos then please let us know.

Theme Switching ...

We have introduced a system of theme and color scheme switching throughout the Web-Wise-Wizard site and if you are not already familiar with this feature then you can access these different themes using the 'Switch Themes' menu located at the top/right of every content page. This should enable you to choose the theme that best suits your own personal preferences or requirements.

The rationale behind introducing theme switching is based on the understanding that our user base is made up of individuals, or groups of individuals, who have different requirements or different preferences, in relation to viewing web pages and theme switching is our method of catering for a wider range of user preferences.

In addition to catering for our traditional user base we intend to develop themes that meet the requirements of the large number of potential users who are partially color blind or have a dyslexic learning style and would benefit from the application of carefully designed color schemes and themes. At the present time these groups are often excluded from using sites on the Web and it is our intention to 'enable' as many of these groups as possible. Hopefully, theme switching will meet their often disparate needs.

At the time of writing, theme switching is in it's infancy on Web-Wise-Wizard and we would welcome constructive help or criticism from anyone interested in the subject. Please feel free to contact us.

WCAG Accessibility ...

WCAG (W3C Accessibility Guidelines) is a subject that seems to be little understood by most web design sites yet I believe that it is a subject that will become crucially important to the world of web design. Recent legislation in the US, the UK and other countries around the World means that public Websites will have to start conforming to Accessibility guidelines and we have recently seen successful legal action against two travel Websites in New York, for failing to meet Accessibility guidelines.

There are different Accessibility guideline standards but in basic terms, Accessibility means that the Markup in your web pages must meet predetermined standards that enable 'machine readers' (high-speed machine readers) to separate and extract the content of your web pages from the Markup, styles and scripts that make up the page. The need for these exacting standards appears to be being laid mainly at the door of users with visual impairment but there must be thousands of different ways that this technology can be used. On this subject, I am a 'conspiracy theorist' because I believe that there is a 'hidden agenda'. If I am correct then the primary use of this technology will be by governments who will employ the technology to 'read' Web pages using artificial intelligence techniques. I also believe that it is this use that is now providing the impetus towards Accessibility standards being adopted throughout the World.

Once again, enough said but all the pages on this site that meet the HTML 4.01 Strict or xHTML 1.0 Strict recommendations are also being written to meet the WCAG 2.0 Accessibility guidelines.

Family Online Safety Institute - ICRA Labelling ...

The ICRA (Internet Content Rating Association) is an international, non-profit organization of Internet leaders working to develop a safer Internet. ICRA has long believed that self-regulation leads to the best balance between the free flow of digital content and protecting children from potentially harmful material.

At the present time and in practical terms, this means that Internet Explorer's 'Content Advisor' can read a META tag located in the HEAD of each of our Web pages and determine the type of content that is contained in those pages. Parents can then use Content Advisor to filter pages that are viewed on there children's computers. However, you should note that the ICRA system is developing and they have recently changed it. This new system will make it easier for an increasing number of schools, colleges, universities, libraries, large companies and other organisations using this system, to filter access to the Web within their internal network structures.

At the bottom of each of our pages you will see an ICRA logo. If you click on this logo you will be transferred to the ICRA Website where they will display the labelling for the page you are viewing.

+++ Profound Thinking +++
Success is often the result of taking a wrong step in the right direction. ~ Al Bernstein

Google PageRank™ ...

Dateline: November, 2005 ...

Google PageRank™ is now the industry standard for checking the ranking of Website pages. Because this incarnation of Web-Wise-Wizard is effectively a new Website the majority of pages on the site have a Google PageRank™ of 3/10 or 4/10 which is good when you consider the short period of time that the site has been up and running (four months) but is relatively low in comparison to many popular sites that have been established for a longer period. The Google PageRank™ for the pages on this site should start to improve as more Websites link to the Web-Wise-Wizard pages and we are hoping to achieve an average PageRank™ of 5/10 to 6/10 in the medium term.

To make it easy for our users to check the PageRank™ of our pages we are using a free service called 'Page Rank Checker' and users can view their logo at the bottom of all of our content pages. Their logos dynamically display the current PageRank™ of the page that is being viewed.

To sum up, Page Rank Checker is a free tool that enables users to easily check the Google page ranking of any Website pages and to display the site's PageRank™ value on the Web page itself.

Browser Testing ...

Great care has been taken to make all the pages on this site 'cross-browser compatible'. This has been done by adhering to current W3C standards and then testing the pages in a variety of modern web browsers to deal with cross-browser compatibility problems. You may have heard the term 'browser wars' and many people will tell you that the browser wars are now over. I am afraid that I take a contrary view because I believe that the browser wars have simply moved from the arena of HTML, JavaScript and CSS1 into the arena of CSS2 (Cascading Style Sheets, Level 2). My personal hope is that W3C will take a firm grip with the upcoming CSS3 standards and begin to eliminate cross-browser CSS compatibility problems altogether.

Links to download copies of all these web browsers are provided at the bottom of the page.

Scripting Errors ...

There can be few things that are more annoying to a user than to visit a site and be presented with scripting error windows popping up when they are loading or viewing a page. Scripting errors can occur on all types of Websites ranging from an individual's Home Page right through to large commercial sites. Expert scripting and careful testing can reduce the number of scripting errors to a minimum but every web page that contains JavaScript scripts is a risk of throwing a scripting error for reasons that are often beyond the reasonable control of the developer.

To combat this situation we have developed a system that traps any scripting errors that may occur on a page and then sends details of these errors back to the Web server where they are recorded for later investigation by the developer. This process should be invisible to the user who will not be presented with a scripting error popup although, because of the error, some aspect of the page may not work correctly. We do not attempt to gather any sort of personal information and any information we gather relates only to the error itself and to the system upon which the error occurred.

Anyone who is 'JavaScript savvy' can view the page source of any of our pages and confirm the following list of information gathered.

this information is collected on the browser side

  1. 1.   The Web address of the page that caused the error.
  2. 2.   The line number of the page that caused the error.
  3. 3.   An application-generated description of the error.
  4. 4.   The type of application (e.g. Microsoft Internet Explorer).
  5. 5.   The application version string which is provided by the application.
  6. 6.   The user agent string which again, is provided by the application.

this information is collected on the server side

  1. 7.   The IP address of the users computer.
  2. 8.   The date GMT and time GMT the error occurred.

Hopefully, this system will enable us to fine tune our pages to the point where we virtually eliminate all scripting errors. The only problem is that since the system was installed on 17-Jul-2005, none of our pages gave generated a scripting error, except where we have deliberately generated scripting errors to test the system. Happy Days!

Offline Development ...

If this information sounds a bit 'techie' then do not worry about it. Most users will not understand it properly.

As your web site become more advanced you will find it advantageous to develop your pages in a simulated web environment rather than simply loading the pages from your hard-drive into your web browser. As you progress further and move on to developing CGI programs on the server-side then a web environment becomes essential because you will not be able to develop CGI programs without a web environment.

My current solution to this requirement was to download and install the Win32 distribution of Apache 1.3.9 Web Server together with ActivePerl 6.2.3 as the programming language interpreter/compiler. In turn, this enabled me to set up a local web environment on my own computer that is totally compatible with the Linux/Apache Web servers that are hosted on the World Wide Web. As far as server-side development goes this is a dream environment because I can have the HTML page in one tab of my editor and have the CGI script in an adjoining tab of my editor and switch between the two to make them interact correctly with each other. Simply edit/save, edit/save and then click the Refresh button on my browser and the job is complete and tested. There is no FTP'ing of scripts to a web server and best of all when the development phase is completed I simply upload the HTML page and corresponding CGI script to the external Web server, set the file permissions correctly and my server-side programs work perfectly, first time, every time.

CGI Programs ...

At the time of writing Web-Wise-Wizard uses three server-side CGI programs that are invoked directly by the pages or events on the site. All the programs have been written by, or are based on programs previously written by Gilbert Hadley, using the Perl programming language. As the site matures it is anticipated that the use of server-side programming on the site will expand.

  1. Gil's xBit Counter:  This is the program that creates the counter graphic that is located in the right-hand column of the Home Page. The counter is intended as a temporary measure until more sophisticated methods of recording site usage can be developed.
  2. Gil's 404 Handler:  This program intercepts HTTP requests for non-existent pages or images and redirects or responds to the requests in an appropriate manner.
  3. Record Scripting Error:  This program receives information about JavaScript errors on web pages. It then records the information and sends back a 'no response' header to the web page.
  4. Create Sitemap:  This program searches for every content page on Web-Wise-Wizard and then extracts the heading, description and title information from each page. It then uses this information to dynamically generate an advanced Sitemap which is useful to users and very useful for site admin purposes.

Link Directly To This Page ...

help support free information on the Internet ...

Many users prefer to link directly to individual content pages on Web-Wise-Wizard. If you would like to do this then we have provided the following HTML/CSS link script which you can copy and paste directly into your HTML editor. Alternatively, you might like to use our New Dynamic Link Generator to create a link that more fully meets your own particular requirements.

the link displayed ...

Web-Wise-Wizard - About Site Development This is a discussion about the features incorporated into our site during development. It contains all sorts of pointers, many of which you may have wondered about and many you never even thought of.

select/copy the link Markup ...

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Copyright © 1998,2014, Gilbert Hadley, Liverpool, England
CSS: An extension to HTML to allow styles, e.g. colour, font, size to be specified for certain elements of a hypertext document. Style information can be included in-line in the HTML file or in a separate CSS file (which can then be easily shared by multiple HTML files). Multiple levels of CSS can be used to allow selective overriding of styles.
CGI: A protocol for running external programs from a HTTP server. CGI specifies how to pass arguments to the program as part of the HTTP request from a web page. It also defines a set of environment variables that are made available to the program.
DTD: The definition of a document type in SGML or XML, consisting of a set of mark-up tags and their interpretation.
FTP: A client-server protocol which allows a user on one computer to transfer files to and from another computer over a TCP/IP network. Also the client program the user executes to transfer files.
Markup: In computerised document preparation, a method of adding information to the text indicating the logical components of a document, or instructions for layout of the text on the page or other information which can be interpreted by some automatic system.
HTML: A hypertext document format used on the World-Wide Web. HTML is built on top of SGML. "Tags" are embedded in the text. A tag consists of a "<", a "directive" (in lower case), zero or more parameters and a ">". Matched pairs of directives, like "" and "" are used to delimit text which is to appear in a special place or style.
Markup: In computerised document preparation, a method of adding information to the text indicating the logical components of a document, or instructions for layout of the text on the page or other information which can be interpreted by some automatic system.