Part of the web server. San Francisco CA USA. 8/12/96.

I'm Serious about Website Scripting

There are lots of pages about webmastering with Frontier on this website and others. This page links to all of them.

by Dave Winer,

I'm serious about website scripting. I think scripting and webmastering are the same thing. The more powerful and complete the tools, the more powerful the website. The key, I think, is to involve other people, so we can use each others' tools and learn from each other. And build a base of sysops that will be respected by tools vendors and client and server software.

The more the merrier! There's strength in numbers. Webmastering is a collaborative activity. That's why I don't want anything to stand in the way of you using Frontier today. It's free. So are all the tools on this server. I'm even willing to seduce you with neat things that don't require any script writing. Just to show you what can be done. Then we can have more fun.

You're a webmaster. I'm a webmaster too. Want to know what that means to me? Check out my DaveNet piece, Web Energy, 1/26/96.

I use these tools to manage this website. Just one person here. Yes there are some broken links! But look at how much territory I'm covering. Yeah. People ask how I do it. It's the tools. Go get some! Cooool.

To start, I've put together several packages that are useful without any scripting. They should give you some ideas. You can customize or extend them, or use them as-is. They're the best way to get started.

The easiest way to start: ShipShop Suite

Lots of people are publishing software via the Internet. Maybe you are too? If you have a Mac and Frontier, with the new ShipShop suite, maintaining an FTP archive of your apps is as simple as choosing a command from the Finder's menu bar.

After you've mastered the ShipShop suite, look thru the rest of the Scripts menu in the Finder's menu bar. You'll find 40+ new commands! Nerdy and useful things that you always wished the Finder would let you do. They're documented on this page: Using the Scriptable Finder from Apple.

Another easy entry: MailShop Suite

I decided to get my email act together, you can too. MailShop maintains a FileMaker archive of email sent and received with Eudora. It's a very good use of disk space and RAM, my opinion. Get more RAM. I did it. Yeah! (It's cheap.)

You can really search your email archives with FileMaker. That's what it was designed for. I can't wait for Eudora to implement the search and UI options that FileMaker already has. I have plans for improving MailShop to support macros and mailing lists stored in Frontier's built-in outliner.

Macros, glossaries, templates, connections

Lots of people use BBEdit to work on their web pages. We added some very powerful new features to the BBEdit environment in the 4.0 versions of BBEdit and Frontier (they shipped at virtually the same instant!).

Macros let you have text that's calculated every time your page is built. Example: { ()}. Glossaries allow you to store links in tables in Frontier's object database and refer to them in "double quotes". Concentrating all your links in one place is a good strategy for correct links.

Templates allow you to control the look of the page, to separate content from layout. Learn how to do this so you can set up systems for your users. Connections to standard apps make it easy to FTP your pages transparently. We save you a lot of steps, so you can wail.

I did a DaveNet piece, Watch This!, 5/15/96, that explained how all these features fit together. And check out the BBEdit page on this website for a tutorial.

Taking the plunge

Hey -- you can go a long way without doing any scripting or learning a lot about Frontier. Cool. After a while, come back to this page for the next dose of web scripting religion. There's a lot more power. You'll like it. Thanks!

Do you want to manage a website in Frontier? I like to start with something that works, maybe you do too. Check out the About this Website page on the DaveNet website. It's a nerd's guide. I show how I use the object database and scripting to maintain the DaveNet site. You can download the source from that page.

The new DaveNet site works like the old site, the current piece is on the home page. A folder hierarchy is maintained, one folder for each month. Each year is organized as an outline that's automatically rendered by the scripts. A script releases the current piece thru email to random groups of 11 chosen from a list stored in a Frontier outline.

The Website Scripting page on the Frontier website guides you, step-by-step, thru the process of setting up and maintaining a website entirely within Frontier.

Fear not! -- you can still use BBEdit to edit these sites. A collaboration with Rich Siegel has produced a powerful new connection. One keystroke in Frontier to open and edit the contents of any object db text cell. When you save, it goes back into the object db! Is this rocket science? Yes. But it's low-tech and it works. People are loving it.

Are you running a Macintosh web server?

Frontier makes a great CGI scripting framework for Macintosh based web servers. It's multi-threaded and native. Lots of system oriented verbs. Server-side macros. Great editing and debugging tools and connections to standard apps.

We're also the best kind of runtime for AppleScript CGIs.

If you have server-site Java stuff, we can help you get hooked up to Macintosh web servers. See the Java page.

FileMaker is often used as the database backing up Frontier.

One more thing

You can get to all the Frontier-related pages from the Frontier website and get the software from its download page.

Frontier is free. Let's have fun!

Call to Action

After you've learned Frontier, please spread the word; tell your friends who do Mac-based web content development or run Mac servers to spend some time on this web page.



This page was last built with Frontier on a Macintosh on Mon, Aug 12, 1996 at 5:02:19 PM. Thanks for checking it out! Dave