Tag Archives: python

Installing web applications

There are two major platforms used commercially for web development; Microsoft Windows Server and Linux based OS versions such as Red Hat Enterprise. You could also get a fully operational free version of Linux Operating Systems for personal or small business use. Out of the two main platforms, the most popular one among large companies is Microsoft Windows Server. I will demonstrate how to install a Web Application using the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (version 4.6 to be exact).

Web Applications

Web Applications, Scripts or web modules are programs that can be installed on a server to manage web based media. It can be databases such as SQL, or server side languages such as PHP, or web Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress and Drupal. Some of these programs depend on others. Drupal and WordPress depend on PHP database so a server must have the PHP module installed to support them.

Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI)

Web PI is a free software package (yep… it is legally free) developed and distributed by Microsoft. You can download it here. In includes a large repository of free web applications for web development and deployment. To install it, you need a Windows based operating system. It could be a server type OS or a regular desktop OS like Windows XP, 7, 8, etc. Check their website for supported systems.

I will use the Web PI 4.6 installed on Windows Server 2012 Datacenter OS for my examples. But the process is the same/similar regardless of the Operating System. Please note that this article explains the Server Administer side installation process. The client side installation process, which you usually get through a web hosting company, has a completely different installation process (on shared hosting).

Installing WordPress Web App

WordPress is the most popular platform for blogging for awhile. Recently full-blown websites have been built on it. The WordPress platform became popular because it has an easy to use user interface and a streamline update system. Naturally, I will use the WordPress Web Application as an example. But you can install any other program or application using Web PI following the same steps.

1) After installing Web PI, select “Products” tab from the top. Install “ISS XX.XX Express” and “ISS Recommended Configuration”. You may have already installed these on your server during the initial setup of the system.

MS Web PI Products Tab. Make sure the key components are installed.
MS Web PI Products Tab. Make sure the key components are installed-Click to enlarge.

If the PHP module is not installed, you will be prompt to install during the install of applications that depends on it. Since we are going to install WordPress, you may also install the PHP module now.

2) Select “Applications” tab and “Add” all the Web Apps you would like to install. You may install more than one at a time. After adding, press “Install”.

MS Web PI Applications Tab. Add for installation.
MS Web PI Applications Tab. Add for installation-Click to enlarge.

In this particular example, I will be installing one application; WordPress for Windows. Other options include variety of CMS such as Drupal, Joomla, Orchard, .NET, etc and web programs such as Moodle, Gallery Server Pro, etc.

3) The PREREQUISITES Window will check for all dependencies. If a dependency such as SQL or PHP is not installed, this will add those to the installation process. Accept for installation. Depend on the speed of your computer components, it will be installed in few seconds to a few minus period.

Prerequisites for WordPress Web Application.
Prerequisites for WordPress Web Application-Click to enlarge.

Application installation process.
Application installation process-Click to enlarge.

4) Once installation is completed, you will be greeted with the CONFIGURE Window. Select the location of install in your system from “Web Site” drop-down. The “application name” will determine the folder in which the installation will be done. In this case I choose “wp” as my application name. Hence the final access will be at http://localhost:80/wp and you may change the root folder of the site later. Keep reading this article for more information on how to do that.

WordPress installation server location setup.
WordPress installation server location setup-Click to enlarge.

5) The next CONFIGURE Window has a form which user should edit. Do not panic! All those “Keys” can be confusing. Just enter either a random set of numbers and letter or something meaningful to you. It does not matter what you enter. I usually use the exact same set of characters for all of the options. Press “Continue”.

Web Application Configuration Window. Type several characters for each option (key).
Web Application Configuration Window. Type several characters for each option (key)-Click to enlarge.

6) Record all the “Password Settings” information under the FINISH Window. You may “Copy to clipboard” and paste it somewhere for saving as well. I usually save in a Text file.

Password Settings for WordPress app Install.
Password Settings for WordPress app Install-Click to enlarge.

Now you may visit the site by selecting “Launch WordPress” or you may simply type the location address in Step 4 on a Internet window. Close the windows by pressing “Finish”. The first thing you will see on the Internet window is a setup page. Each Web App has its’ own setup page. In this particular example, it will be a WordPress CMS setup page. This is the final step!

WordPress CMS setup page.
WordPress CMS setup page-Click to enlarge.

Additional options

We setup the Web App in a folder named “wp” in Step 4. But let’s say your client insists that their website should not have “wp” as prefix (http://example.com/wp). You do not have to reinstall everything. You do not have to relocate the folders on the server either. What you need to do is to go to the domain settings and make “wp” your root folder. Now the http://example.com/wp will be http://example.com/. Another way to do this is through domain registrar options. You can point the domain name to wp folder from there as a root.

As mention before, you may install any of the Web Applications on a single server. They very lightweight programs, that they will not effect the performance of the server (but the traffic flow will). I highly recommend using different folders for each Web Application. This will avoid conflicts between them.

By default, all web applications take Port 80 (HTTP port) over others. However, you may also change this to whatever the port you want. You may ask, why would you want to use non-standard port? One reason would be that you are a developer or a student. If your ISP blocked access to Port 80, then you can bypass this by using a different port and utilizing port forwarding.

Customizing the editor for coding

A lot of people hate software just because they do not like the look and feel of the user interface. Surprisingly even the knowledgeable “geeks” have strong preferences on the GUI (Graphical User Interface). This often takes away the focus from functionality and versatility of programs and impact negatively on high quality products.

The good news is that most programs have customizing options available for both GUIs and back-end. However, very few users are aware of these hidden gems. In this article we will discuss the customizability of the open source free software Notepad++ (“Notepad Plus Plus”).

Notepad++

Notepad++ is highly customizable and flexible enough to work with almost all programming languages. As soon as you save your file as a .php, .html, .py, .cpp, etc it will pick up all the standard syntax related to each language. In addition you can use this program as a standard text editor.

The initial setup is simple. Download the program from here and follow the on screen instructions.

Select "Themes" during install.
Select Themes during install.
Make sure you select themes (check mark it). If you do not have much experience with the program, I would recommend you select exactly what I have above. I do not have an image of the next window, but if you are unsure, do not select anything on the next window. Just move on as next, next, etc.

Once the installation is completed, go to settings on the top ribbon. Open Style Configurator…

Settings drop down menu.
Settings drop down menu.

In the Style Configurator window you have variety of options. You can have fun with this, but for now, I would select a per-configured set from Select theme drop down.

Styles selection drop down list.
Styles selection drop down list.
Personally I like black background because I find it better on my eyes. I spend hours at a time writing code and most people I talked to also found back background to be very pleasant (as opposed to white).
PHP syntax coloured (automatic) on black background.
PHP syntax coloured (automatic) on black background.
It is my personal preference. The beauty of customization is you can choose a theme and/or color scheme to get your ideal working environment. Since you can always reset these, I entourage you to experiment with it.

HTML-Kit (free version)

Don’t get fooled by the name! This is one of the best free code editors out there. It started as a basic HTML editor and then transformed into what it is today. Like Notepad++, it also have support for almost all languages. However, this is big HOWEVER, it is not open source nor it comes with all the customization features like Notepad++. You cannot change the themes without having to buy their “premium” version. While I have used this extensively in the past, I am tired of limitations in free version. Please try Notepad++ first and if you don’t find it useful, the second best option would be HTML-Kit free version. Why pay for features that already included in FREE Notepad++?

Other Editors

All general text editing software that allow saving files in different formats (.php, .html, etc) can be used for programming. If you are new to coding please find a software that have built in syntax highlighter (eliminate Microsoft Notepad). This will make those first few steps into coding fun.

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