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Mike Connor 03. Jun 2009 02:51 PM

Building websites, using Web Applications.
Apparently a lot of people have trouble setting stuff up on various Internet servers. You can learn a great deal, and save yourself a lot of hassle, by installing and testing various web applications on your own "Local" machine.

This is done by using special software packages like WAMP ( This is an acronym formed from the initials of the packages used. Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (or Perl or Python).

The open source package I mainly use is this one;

It will install a complete "integrated" server environment on your local machine. The "Default" settings will run a lot of packages as they are, but if you want to change environments and alter settings in the various packages then you need to learn a bit about them.

I also use this package for setting things up, and then exporting them to the servers they are to be used on. However, it should be remembered that various servers use various software and settings, and the settings you use have to match theirs if you want your software to run properly on your prospective target server.

At the very least, this and similar packages will allow you to "practice" for free with various web applications before you spend time and money on the web.


Mike Connor

George 05. Jun 2009 08:02 PM

Here is another popular that I use:

chris.p 05. Jun 2009 10:18 PM

Google for 'xampp manual' :)

Mike Connor 05. Jun 2009 10:40 PM

I tried xampp for a while, but I had a lot of problems with it, xampp is also not recommended for use on a single machine. I found no good reason at all to use it instead of Wampserver.

Anyway, I quickly went back to using Wampserver. It is quite easy to set up and use, ( "One-Click setup" usually), and it will in fact allow you to run most web applications like forums, website software, web editors, blogs, CMS, etc etc "out of the box", and it is easy to change various settings to suit applications, or to suit prospective servers.


Mike Connor

George 07. Jun 2009 05:40 PM

I never had any problems with Xampp. I am using it for years and I guess you can say I am a power user.

I think it depends on the environment and other tools and software you use with it.

Well, we have two recommendations here. That's a good thing so people can try the other if the first gives them problems.

wdhpr 15. Jun 2009 03:32 PM

Wamp! what the heck is SQL?
I am just getting started to learn the wild west of web pages. I've had a flat site (html) for over a year now. Very basic. I made it with a evaluation copy of dreamweaver. Since then I have been tweaking it using kompozer.

I am ready to take it to the next level! To boldly go. Where? I have no idea.:D
I just downloaded my shiny copy of WebDwarf V2 and i'm ready to make the leap.
I am going to build a new multi page website and save it to my hard drive until Chris.p comes out with part 3 on How to build and host a website for free. :)

I have a couple of questions so I can get started on the right track.

How does a data base or SQL apply to a website?

I keep hearing about winamp which I have on my computer. I have no clue what to do with it. It has apache in it submenu which I also have heard of and dont know what it does. I would greatly appreciate a brief explanation.
Can I use these tools for my blog as well?

I'm not a genius but I am a thinker so any help will go a long way. Thanks in advance.

PS I am reading a tutorial on SQL at SQL Course

chris.p 15. Jun 2009 11:36 PM

Hey, looking good there. Your site is OK.

I reckon that you should think about going to a dynamic website now. This means using a database-driven site instead of HTML pages. The advantage is that page building is easier (there isn't any) and you can do a lot more.

The big advantage that you have is you've done your apprenticeship with HTML, so this is not an unknown area for you, as it is for many DB-driven site owners. That knowledge is useful.

You would have a choice of programs to use, and they are laid in in the Best Free CMS review - because that's where you are now. A CMS is a DB-driven website. The first step on the ladder is WordPress and you can stay with that in the long term, no question, there are some great WP-based CMS sites out there. In fact I advise this route.

Or you could volunteer for some serious brain damage in the short term and go for a full-on CMS like Joomla. The first month would be hell but after that you can do more with it than any other CMS.

Up to you - but read the review and see what you think.

George 15. Jun 2009 11:47 PM

Hi w,

the term "web server" is ambiguous. On the one side it stands for the whole sever computer running all necessary software to power your website. On the other side the term is also used for that piece of software running on that computer that is responsible for interpreting your html code and sending the pages to the requesting browser.

Web server software (like the popular Apache) can usually load addl. modules that enable it to do more than interpret html code, e.g. loading a PHP module so that also PHP code is interpreted and converted to web pages sent back to the requesting browser. You usually configure the web server in a way that it loads the appropriate addl. modules (other than html) based on the file extension. Files ending with .php are also interpreted with the PHP module. A proper HTML/PHP file that has an unknow file extension will not be interpreted accordingly.

Usually web developers progress in three steps:
1) Markup language (HTML)
2) Programming language (e.g. PHP)
3) Database Server

The term "database server" already points out that you need another piece of software running on your web server computer: the database server software. The most popular is a MySQL server.

A database server allows you to store and access data in a database during the interpretation of your website files. However, HTML cannot do that. You need a programming language that has built in routines and capabilities to connect to a database server and talk to it. That would be PHP in our example.

But in order to talk to a database server you need to use a language that the database server understands. That would be MySQL in our case.

So once you have a webserver with PHP and a database server running, here are some very basic examples what you can do with it.

Simple HTML
HTML Code:

    <title>My HTML Page</title>
    <h1>Hello World</h1>

Simple PHP/MySQL
PHP Code:

    <title>My PHP Page</title>
    <h1><?php echo "Hello World";?></h1>

Simple Database Access:
PHP Code:

    <title>My PHP-MySQL Page</title>
// Establish a connection to the MySQL database
$connection mysql_connect("localhost""myusername""mypassword");
// Use the address database

// Run a query through the connection
$result mysql_query("SELECT id, surname, 
        firstname FROM contacts"

// Fetch each row of the results into an array $row
while ($row mysql_fetch_array($result))
"First name:\t{$row["firstname"]}\n\n";   

This will give you a basic idea of how it works. One thing is important of course: in the upper example it is assumed that the database "addresses" with its table "contacts" exists.

You need to create this database before you can access it. There is a popular free program that you can used to create databases in your database. It is called phpMyAdmin and is a web application itself.

The easiest way to get started with a local web server on your computer is to download on of the free packages that include everything you need already. I am using XAMPP, others suggest WAMPSERVER. Once you install such a package you have HTML, PHP, MySQL Server and phpMyAdmin ready to go.

In the example of Xampp you do this:
1) Install Xampp
2) Start the Xampp Control Panel
3) In the Control Panel start the Web Server and the Database Server
4) Open your browser and go to http://localhost

Ok, so much for a very quick and simple introduction. I guess you can take it from there.

If you need further assistance just post it here.

wdhpr 16. Jun 2009 01:17 AM

This is starting to make sense
If I am starting to understand this. I believe the database in this case mysql is actually a server in itself sending the data for my webpage to the requesting browser. This replaces the requesting browser from actually downloading the contents of my webpage and html code. So the requesting browser receives that information directly from my sql data base in the form of a php file. Is this data converted to html by the requesting browser or does the browser interpret it in php code ?

I am using Go Daddy and it has a Mysql database built in. I just created that database and its creation is pending.

To communicate to mySQL so I can form my webpage do I use one of the for_mentioned applications such as wamp which I already have installed on my computer or build my database using the host's on_board tools?
Or do I create my webpage using a tool like wamp and then ftp the php file to my database? In other words whats the best way to communicate between my computer and MYSQL residing at my website host?

I am still trying to get my head wrapped around this point.
My host is trying to sell me a bag of goods around every corner.
I want to use my host for convenience and circumvent any pay type services.

PS: thanks so much for your help


George 16. Jun 2009 11:44 PM

Xampp (and the other packages mentioned here) is a collection of software that turns your local PC into a webserver. Xampp e.g. comes with Apache, PHP, MySql and some other server software. Once you have installed and started it, your PC is the webserver. You don't even need an Internet connection to work with it. You can develop your website completely locally. The link to your local webserver is "http://localhost".

Apache and PHP are interpreting your files. In my previous example the PHP code connects to your local database server (indicated by the first parameter of the function mysql_connect).
PHP Code:

$connection mysql_connect("localhost""myusername""mypassword"); 

After that it accesses a certain table and reads information from it. Then it prints the information. "Printing" in this case means that it prepares the html page code that will be sent to the requesting browser when the page is processed. The database server is returning the information to the PHP program that is asking for it.

Your hoster will provide an own webserver and database server for you. You don't need Xampp for running your web pages on your hosters sever. You only have to copy your html/php files to your hosters webserver (using an FTP program for example). Once you have copied your files there, the hosters server will run them when you point your browser to your domain.

When your files are executed on your hosters server, the address "localhost" is looking for a database server on the, as the name suggests, local host (your hosters server).

Sometimes hosters are installing database servers on different machines than the web server. In that case your hoster will tell you what the DB server address is, e.g. "" or something like that. "Localhost" would not work in that case as you can imagine.

I personally develop my web applications locally first. When it runs fine on my computer I copy all files to my hosters webserver and see how it works there. Before I copy the files I change those files where I need to change addresses (like the address of the DB server).

There is a chance that your hoster is running different versions of PHP and MySQL. Sometimes that leads to errors or different results.

The advantage of developing locally first is that you don't have to upload each file after each change to test it. You also don't need an Internet connection so you can even develop on trains, planes and at other places where you do not have that access.

Your hoster will most probably provide you with an online access to your database so you can create your databases and tables. In many cases it is phpMyAdmin which also comes with Xampp. So you might already know how to work with it.

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