Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Boy Scout Troop 485 Jax, FL -
"Delivering the Promise"


Introduction

This document is not intended to be a product endorsement for any of the software or companies mentioned. However, I did get a web site to work for my Pack with a minimum of pain. I’m not a trained web developer. I am a professional Forester that works with computers 8 hours a day. I have a tremendous amount of scouting experience leading up to and after my Eagle Scout award. I hope this information will prove useful to any individual who is setting up a scouting web site.

The primary reasons for setting up a Pack web page were:

  • to keep the parents informed as to scheduled activities
  • educate parent, scouts and leaders on scouting
  • provided the parents and the leaders sources of scouting and outing information
  • provide links to the best scouting site on the WWW
  • provide leaders opportunities for independent study

Selection of FrontPage 98

The first tool I tried was Word 97. It generates acceptable HTML with the ease of use of a word processor. This looks like a great way to go if you only what two or three simple pages. As soon as the complexity of my site increased, I grew out of Word 97 quickly.

The next tool I tried was FrontPage 98 (FP98). It required a very short learning curve. I found the interface and the commands to be intuitive. I was able to build a rather complex site with 50+ pages and hundreds of graphics in just a few hours time.

There are several key features of FP98 that made it an ideal tool for me.

Maintenance of Internal Links and References

If your rename an object in your FP 98 site, or move it to a new directory, the system automatically updates all the references for you. This may sound minor, but it is a huge help. I’ll give you an example. As I built the site I accumulated lots of graphics on scouting patches. These graphics were kept in the IMAGES directory. The directory listing grew quite large. I created a new directory called PATCHES and moved all the patch images from the IMAGES directory to the PATCHES directory. All the references to those images (SRC) and links to them (HREF) were updated.

Checking of External Links

I created a lot of links to other web sites on my pages. Sometimes I linked right to the home page, but many time I linked to a page five or six levels down in a site. Everyone does this and prays that the other webmaster keeps his site structure the same. If the other site changes, you have broken links. Maintaining hyperlinks can be a real pain. There is a tool in FP98 to verify all your hyperlinks.

To use the tool you connect to the Internet using your normal browser, then start up FP98. On the tools menu chose verify hyperlinks. All of the links, both internal and external, are checked. Any that are broken will be displayed and you can edit the link at that time.

I verify my links each time I publish a page. You would be surprised how often the internal structure of websites change.

FrontPage Publishing

FP98 has a nice publishing feature to make website maintenance easier. When you publish to the web it synchronizes your local copy of the web site with the copy on the host site. Any changes to the local site are automatically made on the host site. Files deleted on the local site are deleted from the host, and any pages changed on the local site are updated on the host

This feature saves your from keeping track of the changes that you have made, and eliminates the need to FTP the entire site to the host.

 Common Borders

FP98 allows you to maintain common borders on your pages. On our site I have a common heading and footing that I use on all pages. I can maintain these in a single location and make changes in one place if I want to change the information on the entire site.

On the common borders there are several automation components that can be used. The most useful is the automated navigation bar. This can be placed on the common border and will update to have a unique navigation bar for each page in the site. The bar can reflect links to the home page, parents pages, child pages, or all of these at once. As new pages are added to your site, these navigation bars are maintained.

Navigation bar maintenance is even carried out if you rename a page. This is similar to the maintenance of internal links mentioned earlier.

 Selection of TRIPOD.COM

There are more Internet hosting sites that you can count. The key thing for me was to find a free site that supported FP98 publishing. The final criteria was that there be no objectionable content on the site to scouting or the scouts themselves. I found TRIPOD met these criteria.

An added benefit was the online site building and editing capabilities. I wouldn’t want to build a complex site online, but the editing is nice.

I can build and maintain our site using FP98 and have several other less technical competent users with editing privileges to add content. This allows me to monitor the technical aspects of the site and have users manage the content in areas like event calendars. The users who are maintaining content need only an Internet browser.

When setting up a new TRIPOD account, go to tools and enable the FP98 extensions for your site. An added benefit to this is a simpler URL. The normal URL’s in TRIPOD are in the format:

http://members.tripod.com/yoursite/index.html

If you enable the FP98 extensions the URL simplifies to:

http://members.tripod.com/yoursite/

With in the FP98 environment you will need to change the default home page name from DEFAULT.HTM to INDEX.HTML. Make sure that you use the four character file extension instead of the three character.

 Choice of Email Provider

The criteria for this decision were that it be free and easy to use. I found both in CITYMAIL. The best feature about CITYMAIL is the ability to view and maintain an Email account through an Internet browser. No additional software is needed. Anyone who has the password can view and manage the Email for the Pack on an Internet browser.

TRIPOD has no Email server of its own, but can mirror email from your site to a choose Email account. I found a dedicated Email address for the pack must easier to manage.

 Conclusion

I conclusion I think I have a very workable site for my Pack. I can maintain the hyperlinks efficiently and incorporate changes with ease. In addition I can have other users who have no knowledge of HTML maintain web pages and update content. Finally, I can have several members of the Pack have access to a single email account. All of this is accomplish with a single copy of FP98 for me, the webmaster, and simple browser software for all other users.

Links of Interest

http://www.gifworks.com reduces images file size up to 80%
http://www.davecentral.com a collection of resources of HTML.
http://www.delorie.com/web/purify.html see how it looks in different browers and Web TV