Web Site Programming
In addition to designing your web site, many companies want to add more complicated features such as e-commerce, online databases, mailing lists, and the like. ITS has the ability to help you add these features to your site. Many of our hosting plans include e-commerce and/or database capabilities. Several of the e-commerce plans are even user-configurable, while others allow the flexibility of custom programming.
Scripts are used to automate tasks, usually in conjunction with images or forms on web pages. For example, say your site has a page for users to add themselves to your mailing list. When they complete the form, a script can write the information to a file, display a "thank you" web page, and send them an e-mail confirming their addition to the list.
A simple use of scripting is to change images in a user's web browser as their mouse moves over an image. This is commonly used in menus and navigation on web sites (our site primarily uses CSS - cascading style sheets). Another common use is to process a web form to send an e-mail, like on our E-Mail ITS page.
Another example is the series of pages used by our web hosting order form, which calculate the total for the plan chosen, submit your payment information to our online payment processor, and send ITS your order. Even if you design your site yourself, ITS can assist with integrating automatic, real-time credit card processing into your site.
The Discussion forum/Bulletin board and Guestbook features included with the Shared Signature plans are also examples of pre-packaged programs that can be used on your web site.
A more complicated example of web programming is a process we wrote for a client of ours for visitors who want to preview custom literature. The web server connects to their office to open an Adobe InDesign template and generates a JPEG image and/or PDF file which is shown or e-mailed to the visitor. The checkout process queries UPS to verify shipping and customs charges to dozens of countries (ITS was actually one of the first to successfully implement that service). Finally, for printed items, print-ready output is generated and placed into the appropriate printer queue.
Web server-based programs are commonly written using languages such as PHP and Perl on UNIX servers, or Visual Basic or C# on Windows servers using .Net.
ITS can assist you with setting up an online database to track your data or add dynamic content to your site.
One example is our efforts to integrate one client's web site with their office network. After rewriting their online ordering process, ITS wrote a program so staff could upload the data in the office to their web site. This made information available to customers in almost real time, yet created no security issues by having customers connecting directly with their office server. And, the web site is virtually hands-off in terms of recording "product" availability.