Advice Needed - Server Administrators

  tbh72 12:59 19 Jul 2003

I want to take control of my website, and need some advice (Esp. FP2002) as to whether I will be able to achieve what I want. If anyone is around at the moment whom is capable & understanding of user permissions etc & has a spare 20 minutes or so would greatful for clarification.

I won't ask my question's just yet, as it's quite involved "too a dummy like me". I'll wait on a response..... Look's around for FE, Taran to name but a few.

  Taran 13:09 19 Jul 2003

Fire away.

I will be in and out of the forum today but online quite a lot tomorrow, so post in here to begin with then if necessary we can go via email.

Be as detailed as you can in what you would like to achieve and if there are any question marks or areas of uncertainty we can explore them in full to make sure both sides fully understand the nature of your query.

Go for it and see where we end up.



  tbh72 13:20 19 Jul 2003

Thank - you Taran.

With my current hosting company I have a control panel which I can use to update my website. If I choose, I can also update using FTP. My main question centers around the current password protection feature I have. From the control panel I can add usernames & passwords, thus creating protected areas..... This is a slow process, at the moment I have 42 users of the protected area. I have already had to re add them twice, due to moving thing's around on the server. This setup is NOT compatible with Frontpage.

In the long term, I would like other people to manage the website, each having different task's to complete. Can people be given different administration access rights in frontpage, and can you have a series of different security groups (Staff, Members, Admin, Staff "Whom can only make one or two changes").....

more to follow

  Taran 13:46 19 Jul 2003

There are loads of different ways of accomplishing this one, but all of them depend on a lot of variables.

Is your site large, is it dynamic or static, does your host support ASP or PHP, is your hosting package Unix or Windows and are you familiar with user authentication at all ?

At its simplest level, you can use something silly (but effective) like CoffeeCup Password Wizard for page access restrictions, but this is for viewing, not editing rights. It makes life easy in generating localised area lockdowns where different usernames can access more, or less of the site depending on their permissions.

For anything more advanced than this you are going to get very complicated so your answers to the ASP/PHP and Unix/Windows questions will be crucial.

I'll look in on this later on and see where we can take it for you.


  tbh72 13:59 19 Jul 2003

Sure, I have the basic hosting package with hostplus. It is on a unix server with frontpage SE's. It also has PHP & mysql. I am limited to one DB which I am using for an invision board.

I & everyone whom is contributing to the site are using FP2000 & above. But at the moment I am the only one whom can actually update the website.

Idealistically I would like to be able to sit down at my computer, open FP2002 and do absolutely everything from it. From managing staffing permissions to adding new members usernames an passwords.

You mentioned user authentication, not sure what is meant by that?

Too be honest - I should point out that I have very limited knowledge when it comes to databases & php. So would prefer thing's to be based around HTML or automated in there implimentation. For example, if I was required to actually create the database which is used by the PHP forum I would have found it difficult.

  Taran 14:23 19 Jul 2003

Even people who know PHP would find it difficult to create the Invision board from scratch. It's a big project, well implemented and way beyond anyone who is not very familiar with database theory and MySQL/PHP.

The obvious stumbling point here is that you either need a drop dead simple solution, in which case you're talking about giving out your site username/password for your fellow administrators to gain access, or you go the opposite way and design a user control panel of your own if the one your ISP is not doing its job.

Frankly there is no easy solution here that I can see. It can be done at either end of the scale, but you seem to need some quite advanced features. Oddly enough, this is the kind of thing that most hosts will provide in the more advanced hosting packages, but it is also a feature built into your current package even though you say it can be inconvenient.

You say you've had to chop and change things around 'due to moving things around on the server.' Was it you who scrambled things or the host ?

I'd be tempted to start talking to your host once your users have been added to the control panel and ask them for instructions on backing up and restoring the config files that contain the 42 users details. Explain what it is you are doing and why, and ask them for help in backing up the relevant files. You may have to up your hosting package slightly, but most hosts are happy to help in technical issues like this where you have specific requirements. They are used to dealing with people at all levels so don't be afraid of techno-jargon. Just explain what you would like to do in plain English and see if they have a solution that is within your budget and scope.

If your host is unable or unwilling to help, we can look at alternatives but if your one allowed database is currently devoted to Invision, you will either have to start modifying the Invision database to include the necessary tables for user authentication (not recommended) or up your hosting package to include further database support and use one for authentication.

See what your host says first. They are there to help and may well have an off the peg solution that does not require a crash course in dynamic web programming on your behalf.

I could give you a sample MySQL/PHP or ASP/Access or MS-SQL application but unless you know how to customise it and tailor it to your own needs, and unless you can get the additional database support from your host, I wouldn't be doing you any favours at all.

Give your host a shout first and then we can bounce some ideas around if they can not or will not help you with a workable solution. Most good hosts will try and help though, and most of them offer some pretty good web based control panels for multiple users and so on. The worst they can do is say no.


  tbh72 14:45 19 Jul 2003

Thank's for the advise Taran, it's greatly appreciated. I can add features to my website, eg additional databases at what I think are very reasonable prices. The hosting company appear to charge £5.00/year * 2 for all extras.

The key here, is "Am I able to achieve what I want using FP2002" without having to wander to far off the path.

And yes, I also think you've brought up the other very important consideration. Eg if I create 1 user with full admin right's can I do it in such away as to not compromise my admin username & password.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Taran, I will contact my host but it's likely to be monday before I am able to start to make real progress with them.

In the meantime, how would I go about "Testing" the admin features of FP2002. I have three host's 2 of which supposedly have FP server extension's. Could my firewall "Zonealarm" be causing FP not too allow the addition of users & passwords. Is there away to query the server to check for FP server extentions?

  Taran 15:29 19 Jul 2003

In theory yes, you can use the FrontPage admin features to do at least some if not all of what you want.

There's a nice walkthrough of some of the FrontPage features you might need to use at these links but again, you need to check that your host will allow this since using the Admin Control Panel is allowed by some and denied by others:

click here

click here

If you can upload and update your site from FrontPage then there is nothing wrong with the extensions. If there was, you'd get an error when attempting to upload telling you that the server extensions have not been installed etc, etc...

First port of call should be your host after which we can certainly run through some specifics.

ZoneAlarm should not be interfering with adding users to your web. As long as FrontPage is configured in ZoneAlarm for web access rights, it should allow it to do whatever you ask it to without any problems.

  tbh72 16:12 19 Jul 2003

I haven't been able to contact my hosting company directly.... Tsk, the weekend. But from reading the helpfiles etc, I doubt that FPSE's are installed. It very clearly states that using the control panel security features renders the FPSE's useless. As I obviously want to start managing the website through FP instead of the control panel provided I will ensure they are installed in due course. "Good job I am happy to start over" by all account they have to clear the server.

The control panel gives an extra level of control over that of an FTP client. As a simple example the FTP client starts in the actual web directory eg mysite. com/ ; where as the control panel seem's to take one step back giving access to "stats" "webmail" and a host of other features which are hidden from the FTP client.

Thank's for the links - very interesting I will read them carefully. I am happy to proceed, if at the end of the day I simply manage to control the members list directly from frontpage I will be happy. But I would imagine a certain amount of caution is required as the email features etc will still have to be managed using the CP.

  tbh72 19:50 22 Jul 2003


I have eventually had FPSE's added to the account, but thing's in my opinion have gone seriously wrong. I would be greatful if you would allow me to email you a few question's and get your support through this sticky situation.


  Taran 23:37 22 Jul 2003

If you'd prefer to email me then yes, feel free.

Be warned though, I get a large volume of email and it can take a day or two sometimes for me to wade through non-business correspondence, so if it's terribly urgent you may want to explore alternative avenues.



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