Getting started!

  • jeffd
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  • jeffd
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hello everyone. This is my first post here.

I have an ambitious website project - but, although I'm computer friendly (I've studied a bit of computing at university) I'm an absolute beginner regarding web creation. I'm going to start studying starting next month (in a multimedia master program in France) but I want to start off immediately and invest myself in the project.

Basically, I want to create a community website, with possibilities of creating profiles, forums, private messages, etc.
I'm intent on making this as good a website as possible, and do not want to use amateurish shortcuts. I know I will need time and effort to achieve my goal, but I want to do it the professional way.
What languages and software would one need to master for the creation of such a website?
What would be a good learning process (step by step)?
I know this a very vague newbie question, but once I get feedback I can make my inquiries more interesting. I just want to know where to get started!
Thanks for your help
Jeff
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • SB
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  • Genius
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Post 3+ Months Ago

You can already use forum software online that will create an online community. I don't know if this is "cutting corners" though. To create a forum similar to what you see here at Ozzu (the white theme, default to start up) takes a considerable amount of time and not for the beginner. However, if you check out the dark theme that Ozzu has this is the sort of forum format you could have just by installing something on your web space providing you have a database as part of the hosting package.

To get to the very basics though, obviously starting off you need a website domain name. The domain name ideally should be something very simple to remember and something that might attract others to remember it. The shorter it is the better, websites with domains like http://www.this-is-an-example.com using the hyphen doesn't really work and can be confusing for some people to remember.

With your domain you need the website space in which to upload the files for the website. What you need will depend on how far and what you really want to do with the site, as your post was vague i cannot really elaborate on what you should be looking for except for to say that you'll most definitely need a hosting package that has at the very least 1 database.

Do you know a bit of HTML? if not, there are plenty of basic tutorials out there that will provide you with the information to get you started coding wise. I also suggest from personal experience you have a look at the PHP language as i've found it to be particularly handy and saves alot of time. These are both relatively easy website languages to pick up. Initially it might be hard and boring, but in the long run you'll really see the benefits. In just under 3 years i've been slowly (very slowly) working on website design and picked a few things up. If i'd been working on it as much as i have in the last few days at this rate for the last few years then there is no doubt my ability would be greater. So, the harder you work at it and the more time devoted the easier and quicker it will work for you...but as you'll know this goes with anything.

If you like the look of the dark theme on Ozzu* then you can download the software to be installed onto your site from http://www.phpBB.com


* To change to the dark theme go to "profile" at the top of the screen under the banner then scroll down until you see "Board Style". Once you are there click on the drop down box and make sure "SmartDark" is selected. At the moment you'll most likely have "light" selected seeming as you are a new member. Once SmartDark is selected go down to "Submit" and you'll see what i mean.

I hope this info helped you out a bit. Any further questions and i'm sure someone will be along to help you out.

All the best.
  • Bogey
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Post 3+ Months Ago

By community website, do you mean a website like Myspace, Youtube, or like this forum? It could be done using various different ways which depends on the choice you choose which all of them, require a MySQL Database for user data storage and other things that would make such things possible. Find a host that supports PHP, ASP, and has a MySQL Database, maybe more than one available for your use.

There are many different types and kinds of forums, free for use, that you could use for your community forum. It is advisable that you use the skin for the forum that you choose to have on your website. Preferably one that you have made yourself rather than those pre-made themes that you can install on the web. I can help you with that since I just two days ago figured out how to change the skin on a phpBB forum. To be more specific, I learned how to change the skin on phpBB3 RC5.

To make a community site such as MySpace or YouTube, you would need extensive knowledge on PHP. Generally, you need good knowledge in programming field or have a freelancer do it for you. That type of thing would require PHP and maybe ASP, depends on some things. I don't remember which is more secure, PHP or ASP. Somebody here might be able to tell you that.

The way I learned it is from making amateurish sites and than continued my way up. Not that I still do professional job on web design but it was better than it was years ago. I started off with a plain color background and information, than I learned organization on the web using tables (bad idea, start off with CSS, the higher beginning grounds), and than I discovered how to make web sites with image backgrounds, and than I figured out how to make CSS web sites, and now I'm discovering the secrets behind PHP programming :).

Generally, I would say start from the ground and go your way up. When you first get a job, you don't begin as a manager, supervisor or a president. You start off as an employee receiving your share of the income, and over time your income increases and you might get promoted on the job, which increases your income as well. What I'm saying is that when you first start of on web designing, than you start by making amateurish looking sites, than you learn how to make good sites and because of that you are rewarded with better looking sites, than you promote yourself to CSS or PHP, whatever it is, than you are able to make better sites which yield better rewards for you. See the resemblance in this?

But I'm not saying to start of by making bad sites and than making good sites, I'm saying that it may be likely that you, on your first attempt at making your professional site, that the first result may be not what you wanted to be when you started off and that you may need to restart on the project. Right now, I'm discovering a way to make a very easy editable way at making a site that when you edit one page (like the menu for instance), than all of the pages that you have are edited, so you won't have to edit 500+ pages to fit your preferable new layout if you would want to change it in the future.

I'll advise you to start learning how to create CSS websites since they are most flexible technology of the present that I can think of at the moment. Technically, IE does not agree with Firefox and other more "better: browsers there are on the web so you may have difficulty making them IE and Firefox compatible, but over time you may learn the secrets of IE and Forefox compatibility. Also, don't forget Opera :)

IFind a tutorial on CSS. Below I listed a website that lists all of the CSS codes that you can use.

CSS1 Reference
CSS2 Reference

I sometimes use them to aid me on my CSS creation.

Hope that this somewhat helped you.
  • jeffd
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thanks for your detailed replies. The site I have in mind isn't really forum-oriented, it's basically a site where members can challenge each other to a live game of chess. Forums are just one of the features. I guess I'm off to http://www.w3schools.com to start off with HTML, then PHP, then CSS...
I'll bug you with more specific questions in (hopefully) a short time.
  • Bogey
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Post 3+ Months Ago

jeffd wrote:
I guess I'm off to http://www.w3schools.com to start off with HTML, then PHP, then CSS...


No, make that HTML, then CSS, and then PHP. You would want your design complete. I advise you make your site full CSS and make it as an external CSS file.
  • jeffd
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hello all,
I've started perfecting my HTML+CSS. Nothing too spectacular for the moment, but I'm getting the hang of them.
So, the next step is PHP?
I want to create a community website, with automatic profile creating, and easy interaction between profiles.
Is PHP the only way to go? What are the viable alternatives?
I have little expertise, but am very dedicated. I want to make this web site come true.
  • Bogey
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Post 3+ Months Ago

PHP is certainly the way to go IMO... you would need to create a registration form... log-in... you know... the membership process :D

And about challenges about Chess... you can probably embed that into a forum when you learn sufficient PHP...
  • righteous_trespasser
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Uhmm ... Bogey, there are other alternatives aswell ... Something like ASP is also available ... And you can get 'Microsoft Visaul Web Developer Express' for free that you can code ASP in ... All that you then need is a host that supports ASP ...
  • Benat
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Post 3+ Months Ago

PHP and mysql go hand in hand when it comes to a community based website, You can't run one without it.

For more info go here http://www.mysql.com/

Its all well and good to say you are going to learn how to design etc, but with a community website the design is the least of your worries. I would say learn the HTML and CSS, not overly, and THEN concertrate on the programming side. Choose one language learn it properly before you learn another. Saves confusion and alot of time.
  • spork
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Benat wrote:
PHP and mysql go hand in hand when it comes to a community based website, You can't run one without it.

Well, that is, unless you go with ASP, Perl, Python, ColdFusion, or a number of other scripting languages, along with MS-SQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle...

...point in case: there are alternatives. PHP+MySQL happen to be the most popular simply because of their cost (free) and widespread use (and therefore support).
Benat wrote:
I would say learn the HTML and CSS, not overly, and THEN concertrate on the programming side. Choose one language learn it properly before you learn another. Saves confusion and alot of time.

I agree whole-heartedly with this.
  • digitalMedia
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Post 3+ Months Ago

You might also consider .NET (dot net) which allows you program in a number of languages and is quite robust in scope and ability.

You'd have to start with a 3 to 4 hour installation of a development environment including MSSQL, Visual Studio, .NET Framework, and a bit more.

It's not free, but the good news is that when you were done learning, you'd be highly employable. :)
  • Bogey
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Post 3+ Months Ago

righteous_trespasser wrote:
Uhmm ... Bogey, there are other alternatives aswell ... Something like ASP is also available ... And you can get 'Microsoft Visaul Web Developer Express' for free that you can code ASP in ... All that you then need is a host that supports ASP ...


I never said that their are no more alternatives... I just posted the way I would go thus the "IMO" after my sentence... IMO, PHP is the language that is widely and most supported on web servers.
  • righteous_trespasser
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Post 3+ Months Ago

sorry then ... must have misread that ... or you edited it in later ... lol
  • Bogey
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Post 3+ Months Ago

If I edited that you would have seeing that it was edited...

...I am using light theme too...
  • righteous_trespasser
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Only in smart dark I think ... I use light
  • Bogey
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Post 3+ Months Ago

righteous_trespasser wrote:
Only in smart dark I think ... I use light


You're right :D

i added

Quote:
...I am using light theme too...
to the previous post...

Well I swear... I didn't change that post :lol: change to dark theme if you like to make sure :lol: (<- Joke!)
  • dferraro40
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Post 3+ Months Ago

All those things are very relevant and some times it can be time consuming and just right out frustrating to tie all those things together. It takes years of practice and a great amount of skill to pull off a great website. I have turned to website templates. They are cheap and with the skills that you already know you can just customize it however you want.

Just thought I would throw that out there. Very Happy
  • ccmon
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thanks for your detailed replies. :)
  • infoguidepages
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I would also go with the php as it is the most used language for that type of project. If you host with godaddy they setup drupal for you to use, it will have done most of the php coding for you already imo. You can also get the package from http://drupal.org/.

I have some friends on the same type of projects and the best advice I could give you is do it in steps and then publish. One of my friends is doing it in a group and does not have control over how they are doing it and the one that does is looking for perfection before going live. The project started five year ago and is nowhere near being complete to his standards and soon a competitor will have the same idea and be successful ahead of him.

Hope this helps

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