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Develop secure and affordable dynamic sites

There are sites and then there are sites... When you create a new site there is always a tradeoff between the functionality you need, the ease to maintain the site and its security. It is often too easy to whip up a few pages with a database in the backend just to leave yourself exposed to a nasty SQL injection bug.

Another consideration is the cost of hosting such a site. It will usually cost you more to get a dynamic site hosted than an HTML-only static site. You can even get free hosting for HTML-only sites in various places.

The good news is that you can have it all. You can build a dynamic site that is easy to maintain, you can make it really secure and save money by hosting it on an HTML-only ISP. On top of this you can use any development language, any database and any OS to develop your dynamic site.

Here is how to do it.

Let's set some expectations first. The site I am talking about is meant to host content. It will not be able to host a forum or get user feedback. It will however allow the user (me) to easily add and remove content that is stored in a database. The main stuff going up there will be articles, rants and maybe some pictures.

I will not go through the nuts and bolts of creating a dynamic content site. The internet is full of this kind of stuff. Remember, you can use any language so if you like PHP or you want to learn PERL there is no reason not to use those. I personally work in C#/ASP.NET.

Once your site is done on your development machine you will need to transform the site into HTML. I developed a tool for this purpose, download it by using the link at the bottom of this page. Although there are other tools out there that would make a local copy of a site the SiteDumper is specifically designed for this purpose so it has some specific functionality. I will describe this tool and post the sources in a future article. To use the SiteDumper to dump the site from http://localhost/tbiro/index.aspx to C:\Temp\StaticCopy run the following command at the command prompt:

SiteDumper http://localhost/tbiro/index.aspx C:\Temp\ StaticCopy

By default the SiteDumper will rename all ASPX files to HTM and it will squish all query string parameters into the file name. It will also set all local paths in your site to relative paths while keeping the original folder structure of the site.

If all went well then you have now a static copy of your site in C:\Temp\SiteCopy. Open the starting page in your favorite browser and make sure it looks right. Upload this to your hosting ISP and you are done.

Download SiteDumper

Comments: tb@tbiro.com

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