School websites

I have offered to help a school with their website on a voluntary basis. This will start with a simple (static) site but will progress to a more interactive one. They have used frontpage so far but I understand you cannot get at the front page html to hack it oneself (is this right?). I would like to improve my html, css, javascript and MySQL (I assume I could use the free version on a school site?) skills by more hands on.

Any ideas about package combinations which could best serve this way? I do not really want to get into dynamic design without some sort of javascript and PHP editor.

  Forum Editor 08:16 26 Nov 05

and whoever told you that you can't alter the html code in a FP site was wrong. You can select a code view on all your pages, and edit the html to your heart's content.

FrontPage will be more than capable of handling anything you want to do, and I recommend that you stick with it. The 2003 version is the one to have, by the way - it's by far the best version yet.

  Haol 08:26 26 Nov 05

If it is possible you could get dreamweaver and flash and play around with them if you want, I myself am currently making my school website, although they don't know about it hehe, and for the main website I have been using Macromedia Flash MX 2004 and will hopefully import into Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 and play around with it some more and dreamweaver is more than capable of handling all that coding thaqt you want to do.

  PurplePenny 14:36 26 Nov 05

Remember that under the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 school web sites must be accessible to pupils with disabilities. For that reason I would recommend that you go easy on the Flash (and certainly don't rely on it for huge chunks of the site).

Yes, of course you can use open source MySQL on a school site. Many educational establishments would be lost without it. A friend who is an open-source contributor considers educational establishments to be important beneficiaries of the open-source community. The paid-for licence for MySQL is aimed at developers who will be using it as an integral part of a commercial application.

  Haol 16:31 26 Nov 05

Don't worry I'll include speech into it, so when you rollover a button it tells you what it is but thinking about it my school website doesn't obide that act, strange the school says they cater for people with disabilities. Oh well.

  djinn 17:56 26 Nov 05

huh?

  Taran 18:04 26 Nov 05

There really is no need to change from FrontPage to Dreamweaver, and let's not even get started on the disadvantages of using Flash as an interface for a school website.

Open source can be useful to those in the education sector, but sometimes the facilities to run such programs (usually Apache and/or at least PHP and MySQL) are not available.

Try these links for a selection of existing scripts that are geared towards educational use: click here click here

Try this one for an entire website-in-a-box content management system: click here

FrontPage itself has all the tools you need built in to produce an extremely powerful data-driven website, if that's the direction you end up going in. In fact, it is streets ahead of Dreamweaver in this area, even beating the latest Dreamweaver 8 in its ability to leverage data sources.

It is not too good with PHP and if you want to use that language you could consider another program, but if you want to go with ASP or ASP.NET then FrontPage can do all kinds of nice things.

As Forum Editor also points out, you can access and adjust the source code FrontPage produces and this has been a built in feature for the last several versions.

Those who malign FrontPage simply have no idea how powerful it actually is.

  PurplePenny 18:06 26 Nov 05

A couple of links to articles from O'Reilly and WebAIM on creating accessible Flash:

click here

click here

I have read further on FP2003 and see that hacking HTML is not an issue. I am now writing a design Spec. for the site to include such things as useability, tools etc. There is the question of Students being able to access their work from home. Is this a web issue i.e. how is this done (if at all at this time)?

If anyone is doing a web site, I would appreciate a direct email or school Tel. Are you trying to take it a step further in quality and functionality?

  Haol 09:34 18 Dec 05

I am able to connect to my school from home using RM Easy Link but I think it only works with schools that run RM Communtiy Connect 2 or above.

  Taran 10:17 18 Dec 05

Access to web content can be done in a number of ways.

A secure login which takes each user to their own account is common.

There really isn't enbough space here to put something down that comes even close to doing secure login procedures justice.

Basically you have a series of user accounts on one of the school servers and the students may log in to access their files held on their account space.

Often this would be linked into tutor resources, subject specific learning environments and all kinds of other nice things.

There are countless ways of acheiving this and RM Easy Link/RM Communtiy Connect 2 is just one.

You mentioned MySQL in your first question and you may encounter difficulties, depending on the environmnent the school has in place. Not too many network managers would be inclined to install MySQL on a server that will have outside access unless they really know their oats and unless you do too.

I appreciate that you want to excpand your skills and that you are assisting the school but your lack of experience could well prove a serious threat if a less than secure access method is established.

Help if you like with a static site and if things progress further go with it only if you feel 110% confortable in doing what you're dealing with.

A dynamic school site with student login from the WWW is not a good place to start experimenting.

I've set up various secure access methods which have included PHP/MySQL ASP/MS SQL, ASP.NET/MS SQL, ColdFusion/MS SQL and Secure Shell (SSH) among others. THey all rely on a combination of username and password that are specific to each student and that information also passes the logged in user to their own space on the server. Once there it may be nice to have file transfer available, or email, disucssion forums and so on, but all of this can create an entire raft of deployment and security issues.

Refer back to my earlier point: "A dynamic school site with student login from the WWW is not a good place to start experimenting."

Stick to the static site for the time being. I very much doubt the IT manager will be open to much else without very clear evidence that you aren't going to compromise the school in any way before letting you loose in the big wide world.

T

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