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What program should I use to create a web page?

There 2 kinds of people, which are you?
a) Hard Core Web Site Developer: The vehicle development is what's important, not the content.
b) Content Creators & Passers-Along's: The content is what's important, not the vehicle.
c) Somewhere in between? You might need someone to help you out with that. Hire someone who's an expert to make the occasional fix, mod, etc.
d) Conclusion: Time to pick!

There are many, many, many web page editing programs out there. Some are largely code crunchers, I wouldn't recommend even for advanced developers. Others are purely graphic user interfaces for people who never intend to create any original web page framework or function.

For the purpose of just getting something quickly on the web themselves without hiring a professional web developer and without actually learning how to develop a web page, I would suggest not investing in a purely graphic interface web editor, skip and go directly to what is called a "CMS."


CMS
stands for "Content Management System." There are many out there. What they do is pretty much the same thing as a purely graphical interface web editor, but not 1 single page at a time. The difference is that once you accept the fact that you will never do any real down and dirty web development yourself, why not use a program that will do the big things quickly plus a lot of extra interactive elements for managing large quantities and varieties of content. A CMS system does big things quickly for you, but you can't subtly customize the way the site looks without learning a thing or two about web development. But if you've accepted that, it's really the fastest way to get content out while maintaining high standards for the way your site looks.

For hard core web developers, there are only 2 choices to make. But before you can decide what you need, one must understand something important. What you really have to understand is the difference between people who want to learn web development and who just want to put existing content on the web. Read below, by the time you get to the end of this page, you will have no doubts which way you want to start. And it really is "only a question of how you want to start." I've seen people start from both directions only to switch back and forth later. What's important are your short term goals.


Hard Core Web developers
hope to one day be able to create, match, and beat anything anyone else creates on the web. To do this, they have to understand the very tiny nuts and bolts, how to weld, meld, and edit directly in code, to produce almost any effect. This usually involves investing in a handful of software applications and learning anywhere between 2 to 6 major languages like html (absolute must), php (I highly recommend), asp, java, xml, C language, C++, .Net, visual studio, visual basic, or any one of many, many more competing languages I can't think of right now. So hopefully any effect or result someone else can describe, they will be able to create the effect and even add to it. In other words, they aren't particularly concerned with who rides in what vehicle, they just want to be able to create any vehicle, from scratch, that anyone can imagine, and change or modify it at will, exorcising their near god like power over this virtual internet world.

Web developers tend to eventually go one of 2 ways in picking the first core program for creating web sites. For their basic web development work they choose either Microsoft Frontpage or Macromedia Dreamweaver. There are others, but in my opinion these two are the industry standard. There is literally nothing that any other web development program can do that can't be done with both of these two. And to boot, there is a lot that either of these can do that all the other competition out there can't. So if you really want to learn about those tiny nuts and bolts of web development, you really have only 2 choices Frontpage or Dreamweaver.

I have used both in the past. In the early days Frontpage did a lot of big things quickly for you, but it was much more difficult to make fine adjustments and modifications. Dreamweaver, on the other hand, made it much easier to finely tune and modify web pages. In fact over the years, Microsoft has slowly modified Frontpage to come closer and closer to the way Dreamweaver has worked all along. This is not unusual for Microsoft, an excellent example is the development of Microsoft Word, a word processor which allowed you to see exactly how a document would come out on paper, but on the screen, before you print, while you work on it. This idea was first developed by Apple, with "wysiwyg" which is an abbreviation for "What You See, Is What You Get." Microsoft knows a good thing when they see it, and they adapt in order to continue to compete in the market, which is good advice for anyone in any business.

The good news about Frontpage is that the latest version is fantastic. It works a lot like Dreamweaver, but it does still use a lot of proprietary formatting and tag systems, that most web developers don't waste time on. This of course can make the code a little unnecessarily complicated. Dreamweaver has always had a good thing going, and has been continuing to stay years ahead of the competition. There really is nothing that either one can do that the other can't. So how do you choose?

Dreamweaver has always been a lot cheaper, not to mention they tend to drive users in the direction of using other FREE to very cheap web development technologies like open source MySql and PHP or server operating systems like Redhat Linux and web servers like Apache, all of which is FREE. Frontpage is generally more expensive, and even when they drop the price to get you in, down the road they tend to drive developers in the direction of becoming dependent on much more expensive development technologies like ASP and .NET ("dot net").

The PHP/MySql development and database technology, and applications others create using this technology which you can incorporate into your site, varies from completely FREE to almost FREE. Where as Microsoft and other competing technologies can vary from what I consider expensive to utterly insane hundred thousand dollar database systems. Why invest your time in money into technologies that ultimately make you dependent on other more expensive technologies?

There is absolutely no reason at all! With PHP/MySql you can do absolutely everything that any other more expensive set of technologies can do. It's nothing more than emotional blackmail, the illusion that what they provide will be better or more reliable just because a big corporation pushes it. They push it because that's how they make money. With the cheaper PHP/MySql there are many, many, sources of free code, free applications, free tutorials, and free assistance provided by many hard core web developers, those people who love the nuts and bolts angle.

And when I say "FREE applications" I don't mean small pieces of junk, take a look at
https://www.opensourcecms.com/mambo/ a demonstration of
Mambo open source Content Management System (CMS)
or
http://www.phpbb.com/phpBB/ a demonstration of phpBB bulletin board
or
http://www.oscommerce.com/shops/live an open source ecommerce solution system and pick one of the many examples of oscommerce being used on the internet right now.

All these applications are FREE for TechSelfHelp web hosting customers and can be automatically installed by web hosting customers through the Plesk Control Panel!


Content Creators & Passers-Along's
are more interested in what content is pushed or distributed over the internet. For example, "music-guy" writes his own country-western lyrics and sheet music. He wants to share it with everyone, which is a noble and worthwhile goal (for those into that subject). Is it really necessary for him to be able to create an original web site, an original interface, just to share what he has already created? Maybe not. Instead he could use a CMS system to do big things quickly to provide him with a quick and quite frankly reasonably professional looking web site. Where all he has to do is read, answer questions presented to him, and point-and-click to upload his content and make it available to the world. The music, his own content or the type of content he is already invested in creating, is what's really important to him, not the vehicle of it's delivery.

In the words of Joseph Campbell, "Follow your bliss!" Decide which is more important to you now, and do it. Don't worry, you can always change your mind later and learn to tweak your web site one little lesson and application at a time. Doing this also ensures job security for hard core web developers. In other words, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to put a man on the moon, so long as you don't mind taking a standardized trip, along a major space craft carrier on a schedule.

Many hard core web developers might scoff at this. Don't sweat it! Besides, after people start using CMS systems, down the road they eventually think more and more about customizing the web site vehicle for their content. And then they'll have an actual reason and the motivation to spend time learning more about web development.

The world of New Media, the creation of multimedia applications, including creating full motion picture movies, aniamatics, animations, cartoons, interactive controls, games, and interactive web sites, encompasses all that and creating basic web sites too. To make this clear, no doctor is a specialist in everything (specialties like podiatry(feet), psychiatry(mental), neurosurgeon, vascular surgery, gastroenterology, cardiothoracic surgery). Doctors tend to go one of two major directions surgery or non-surgery. For surgery, they might further specialize in trauma, for non-surgery they might further specialize in phlebology (study of diseases of the veins). The point is that New Media majors specialize too. And when they do, it doesn't have to include web development to make money or get a job selling their creations in Flash, for example. Instead focus on what is really important to you, do it very well, and depend on someone else who does web development very well.


Conclusion: This is where TechSelfHelp comes in. For the immediate needs of getting your content on the web, use any one of many content management systems (CMS's). You can try them all, and our many other FREE services and add-ons to your site which are included with many web hosting or web space providers, and change your mind as often as you like. You provide the money, your web host provides the web space where you can either develop your own site from scratch like true hard core web developer with Dreamweaver or Frontpage, or use a FREE Content Management Systems (CMS) to get your content up and online in no time.

To see FREE CMS systems available to you, simply log into your web host's site and check.

Hard Core Web Developers: "For me the choice is simple Dreamweaver for dynamic web pages and the PHP/MySql combination for dynamic web site development," TechSelfHelp's GoToGuy. You can download a FREE "Trial ware" copy of Dreamweaver here at Macromedia and take 30 days to try it out.

Content Creators & passers-along's: "I suggest using an "open source linux/apache/php" based Content Management System (CMS)," GoToGuy. You can install an open source php based CMS from within most web hosting Control Panels.

Our internet web hosting package goes for $5.00 per month. This is the smallest fee on the net for all the collective products and services we include in the package. Our basic package includes 150 MB of space. Why?

90% of all web sites are less than 20 MB in size, and 98% of all web sites are less than 150 MB. You may say, "20 MB, that's impossible!" Not so, when you consider that the average html or php file is only about 20 KB (0.020 MB). That means that 20 MB can hold 1,000 html & php files. How long will it take you to create and upload 1,000 html & php files? The largest web site I've developed served about 1 GB of rotating content on any given day. Aside from the rotating 1 GB of content, the core web site was only 100 MB and that included about 6,200 actual html & php files. 150 MB goes a very long way! Once you have developed a sophisticated web site and you want to start serving large quantities of content files, you can add the extra space as needed. The site I mention above would take about 6 months, 8 hours a day, to rebuild from scratch. So don't waste money paying for the space until you can actually use it. It could easily take you 6 months to a year to build a large complex web site from scratch. In the mean time, save your money!

The idea here is don't spend money every month renting space you never actually use! Even people who have a well developed plan for a large content heavy site on the order of magnitude of 1 GB, may take a whole year in development before they can actually get all the content integrated into and on the site. So why pay until you are ready to use the space? No reason! Just start developing your site, get it online, and when you can use the extra space start paying for it then. Extra space, whether 1 MB or 100 GB can be added in as little time as 10 minutes to 48 hours, depending on the resources already allocated by your service provider. TechSelfHelp for example always maintains at least 1 GB unused space for whatever might come up in the next few hours. We can add practically an infinite amount of space to any account in as little as 1 day, (maybe 3 days at the most if its a long holiday weekend, in which case you won't likely get a lot of visitors in that time anyway, and you should probably be out having fun).

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