The Benefits of Webinars For Learning How to Develop Websites

The Problem

Many small businesses and organizations in the United States are located in rural and often remote areas. This is especially true for wood businesses, whose emphasis is the use of local, sustainably harvested raw materials. However, no matter how remote, these businesses still have to reach a market with information about their product to survive, ie. Market their Product!

A website is a great tool to make your information available to the widest possible audience. Many business owners and organizations will contract with a web developer without knowing anything about what their website should do for them or whether they have found a competent and ethical web developer. Others will attempt to build their own websites without the benefit of web development training.

A few of these folks will put together fine websites with the aid of books and tutorials. Some will find a great developer who does a great job. After almost 10 years of teaching web development classes for business owners, I have found that for many, that won’t be the case. Whether business owners contract their website development or do it in-house, they need to understand the business and marketing principles of the web environment, the technical principles of web development, and how people use websites. That training is available at most community college and adult education centers around the country, but those colleges and centers aren’t necessarily accessible to rural businesses. Webinars can deliver the live and interactive training to any location that has internet access.

What is a Webinar

A webinar is live training that is delivered over the internet through your web browser. Teacher and students can be anywhere there is internet access. I have taught webinars from the back of a restaurant, a university office, a home office, and a hotel lobby. My students have attended the webinars from their offices, their homes, and I don’t know where because I can’t see them!

I can’t see the students, but I can talk to them. In fact, everyone attending can talk to each other via cell phone, desk phone or a headset plugged into their computers. While I prefer to teach conversationally, where the attendees can jump in with questions or comments, I can set it so that my voice – lecture style – is the only one heard. Of course, without the interchange, the students might actually be playing solitaire or maybe only the dog is at the computer, but then students play solitaire and check their email in regular lab courses too. At least, I can’t hear them snoring!

With a webinar, my students can see a PowerPoint presentation I have prepared right on their computers. Or the webinar software can show them what I have on my computer, if I prefer, allowing me to demonstrate how to do something while they give it a try. If a student has a problem completing a task, that student can choose to “share” what is on his or her computer, to get step-by-step help as I watch their computer screen on mine! Of course, that also means that I might see the Solitaire game in process too!

Using a Webinar

The process of attending a webinar is:

  1. Register for the webinar. Some are free, and some require payment.
  2. You will receive various emails from the webinar system confirming your registration and giving you a link to the webinar and possibly a call in number for discussion.
  3. About 15 – 20 minutes before your webinar is scheduled to start, Make sure your internet connection is working and go to the website linked in the emails. You may need to enter a code, depending on which webinar system it is.
  4. If the webinar will be through a headset, make sure the volume on your computer is turned up!
  5. If the webinar is through a phone call, call the number in the emails. Again, you may have to enter a confirmation number, which should be in the emails.
  6. After the software loads in your browser, you should see a list of the folks who have already signed in and a central area for the presentation materials.
  7. There may also be a chat box where you can ask questions before, during, or after the webinar.
  8. Just like in a regular classroom, some webinar presenters like to be interrupted with questions and comments, and others don’t. Whether you can interject questions and comments depends on the set up and software too. The presenter should tell you at the beginning of the webinar, although using the chat system doesn’t interrupt the webinar and is usually available the whole time.
  9. After the webinar is finished, you may be able to download a recorded copy for review.

Other Uses for Webinar Software

The webinar format is also excellent for one-on-one or small group training. I have trained people half way across the country, whom I’ve never met in person, how to work on their own website through webinars. Because the webinar system allows us to talk to each other and look at each other’s computer, it can become as comfortable as a classroom setting.

Webinars can also be used for group discussions and meetings. People all over the country can get together without travel costs and time. It is also a great format for a planning meeting because someone can type in the Notes area and everyone can have a copy of the Notes.

Conclusion

At first, not seeing the people behind the voices can be a little disconcerting. And, your internet connection might cut out or your headset might quit working, or your cell phone battery might die. But in the end, it’s a great system.

The National Network of Forest Practitioners has conducted various webinar topics for wood cooperatives and sustainable wood businesses. If the guys out in the woods can to it; so can you!

How to Add File Upload Support to Your Web Site

Introduction

Providing the ability for visitors to your web site to upload files from their computer allows for the implementation of some very powerful features, such as for example letting your users share files with other visitors, or decorate their online presence on your site with an identifying portrait or avatar. In general, allowing for a file upload provides an easier way to share a large amount of data rather than extensive and tedious form-filling. However, while the file upload feature has long been supported by most Internet browsers, the precise details of how it is done can be quite tricky; the devil is indeed in the details. In order to correctly use this feature, you will need to perform some work both in the HTML and on the server side, and if you are writing client software to upload the file to an existing web site, you will need to know some details.

In the HTML and Browser

Adding a file upload button to a web page is relatively easy; it is just another type of INPUT field within an HTML FORM. Setting the type attribute of the INPUT field to “file” will provide an input field that allows file selection. Note that the actual upload of the file requires a little bit more work, including some server-side coding, which will follow shortly. The INPUT field may have other attributes set on it, such as size, which will allow control over the size of the display of the selected file, which should be very similar to a text field.

At this point, it is already worth noting that this HTML is likely to vary in appearance considerably from browser to browser. Typically, the form control thus created will consist of what looks like a text field, accompanied by a button that will launch the system file selector. Already, the appearance of the word “looks” should indicate there are possibly some accessibility issues with using this control. In both Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows, the control appears as a text field with a button labeled “Browse…” next to it, with a few other visual differences. In Google Chrome, the button is labeled “Choose File”, and the text area where the name appears initially begins saying “No file chosen” and is just regular HTML text, not a text input field. There is a little control over the appearance of these visual elements via CSS, but some features, such as the actual text on the button, are chosen by the browser, not by the web developer. Furthermore, the button now means there are two button elements in the HTML FORM, not just a standard “Submit” button. This may cause some issues for browser users who are visually impaired or who use a different input method other than a mouse. In many ways, the appearance of the form may be unfamiliar to users, so your page should contain sufficient explanatory text, should be tested on many browsers, and perhaps should also provide an alternative method of supplying the file data.

Before leaving the HTML, there is one other change that needs to be made to a standard FORM – the enctype attribute of the form needs to be set to “multipart/form-data”. This is the most common omission when setting up a file upload form; if the enctype is left at its default value, “application/x-www-form-urlencoded”, your server will not receive the contents of the file at all, just the file name! This leads us on to the next observation; since the format of the data returned by the browser will be different, any standard form handling code you have will not work. You may need to make matching server changes as well.

On the server

As mentioned above, changing the encoding of the browser response to “multipart/form-data” is necessary so that actual file data is sent to the server; the standard form encoding does not handle arbitrary file sizes well. The encoding is based on the MIME standard for sending multipart messages, most recognizably used in email for file attachments. This makes sense since you are in effect attaching a file to a browser response, but note that the mechanism actually supports multiple files if necessary. Indeed, if there are other INPUT fields in your form, each of their results will also be returned as if they were a file attachment. This means the standard form handling code you have is unlikely to work.

Exactly what needs to be done on the server side depends highly on your server technology and the access rights you have on your site. You may need to contact your web hosting company, for example, to see if they already have a “canned” upload script that you could use. A blog widget or similar inclusion on a third-party site probably will not let you use this functionality. If you are the web developer, you should be able to search for “file upload” in your platform documentation; for example, Perl users will find file upload is supported in the CGI.pm module.

At this point, if what needs to be done appears too difficult, you should consider whether implementing file upload is really what you need, and be wary that there are many security and complexity issues that you may have to handle. What will you do with the files once they arrive? Where will you store them? What if, either accidentally or maliciously, a client tries to send you a huge file? What if the file never makes it to its destination? In cases like this, you may wish to consider an alternate provider to give you file upload capabilities. One use case was, for example, allowing your users to upload a picture or avatar of themselves. There are plenty of services to do that, such as Gravatar; your users might even prefer to see you integrate with Facebook or Twitter.

In client software

Nowadays, it is quite normal for programs other than web browsers to connect to web pages. If you are a developer for software that runs on smartphones, you may find yourself in a position where you need to upload a file to a web site without launching the browser. Again, the precise details vary depending on the platform you are using. Java developers may be familiar with the Apache HttpClient collection of utilities. Creating an HTTP POST using HttpClient is well-documented elsewhere, and a quick search for multipart posting highlights a MultipartPostMethod that is deprecated. The correct way in this case to post is to build a MultipartRequestEntity made up of one or more Part objects; a Part object can be configured to contain, among many other things, a file. A call to setRequestEntity() on the POST method will do exactly what is needed in this case.

What next?

Being able to upload a file to your web site opens the doors to some exceptionally powerful functionality, but the details seem to be a bit sparse online. You may go ahead and check RFC 1867, the original proposal dating back to 1995, and you may wish to try out this functionality in as many different browsers as you can find. You will most likely be surprised at the differences in look and feel. However, it is a good tool to have available in your web development arsenal, and the techniques illustrated here come in useful, even in modern web development environments.

Tips To Find A Professional Web Design Company

Are you looking for a professional web design company? There are a number of website design companies in India that provide services at an affordable rate. The only thing that you need to do is log on to the Internet and search for a reputed, professional and experienced web development company that can fulfill your web designing and development needs.

When browsing the Internet you will come across thousands of website design companies in India. In that case, you might simply get confused regarding which web design company to choose. Here are some tips for you that can help you choose the right professional web design company for your needs.

Work experience of the company is very important. The website design company you choose to hire for your needs must have years of experience in this field. Having years of experience means, the company will have professional and skilled web designers and developers who can understand the exact needs of the clients.

Check out the portfolio of the company. A professional firm will provide with a portfolio of their designs and works. By checking out the sites they have created, you can very well decide whether they will be able to fulfill your designing needs or not. It is also important for you to check out whether the firm has worked with clients specific to your industry. This means you need to see whether the company have created any similar site to what you actually require. You can even check out the level of satisfaction of the clients for whom the company has worked. Never make a decision after getting only one feedback. Always consider several options before taking any final decision.

When hiring the services of a professional and experienced web design company, it is important for you to take into account the rates they offer. The rates generally vary from hundred to thousand pounds. This is the reason why it is important to have a specified budget for your designing needs. If you have a specified budget, you simply won’t be confused while making a choice with the company.

It’s very essential to find a professional web design company that not only designs a quality website but also knows the techniques of search engine optimization. So, ensure that the company you have planned to hire can make SEO friendly web pages for your company. To find out whether the company is really an expert in SEO services or not you can perform a SEO test. Just take the sites from the portfolio of the company and check out their ranking in the search engine results.

The web design company you choose should offer helpful customer service. This means you need to check out before hiring the services of the company that whether it responses to your questions within time or not and that whether you get the support necessary for solving the problems, which may arise during the work process.

Finding a professional web development is not an easy task. You need to do a thorough research for finding the right company.