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Server Options for Publishing

As shown in Figure 3.1, Expression Web offers many options for publishing content.

  • FrontPage Server Extensions (via HTTP or HTTPS)
  • WebDAV
  • FTP
  • File System
Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 You'll choose from one of four different publishing options in the Remote Web Site Properties dialog.

One of these methods is sure to be suitable for your purposes. In fact, you'll likely have a choice between a couple of them, so you'll need to understand the pros and cons of each option to make an educated decision when the time comes to publish your site.

FrontPage Server Extensions

The FrontPage Server Extensions are a set of files that is installed onto a Web server to add functionality to a Web site. The FrontPage Server Extensions have been around for many years. Perhaps the reason why they are so pervasive is that most hosting companies offer support for them. Additionally, Microsoft FrontPage, Microsoft's legacy application for developing Web sites, is designed to use the FrontPage Server Extensions for publishing content.

The FrontPage Server Extensions use either the HTTP or secure HTTP (HTTPS) protocol to publish site content. These same protocols are used when browsing Web sites. Because the FrontPage Server Extensions use the same protocols as your Web browser, they can easily publish to remote servers even if you are behind a firewall. Almost all firewalls are configured to allow HTTP and HTTPS traffic to freely pass through. The FrontPage Server Extensions take advantage of that fact when publishing content.

The Remote Web Site Properties dialog shown in Figure 3.2 displays the options available when choosing to publish a Web site using the FrontPage Server Extensions.

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2 The FrontPage Server Extensions options allow you to specify a URL using HTTP. If you require a secured connection, SSL is also available.

After the FrontPage Server Extensions have been installed on the Web server, they must be configured for your Web site by an administrator of the Web server. During the configuration process, the FrontPage Server Extensions add folders to your Web site that begin with _vti. These folders contain configuration information that the FrontPage Server Extensions use to keep track of changes to your Web site.

The FrontPage Server Extensions offer functionality at both design-time and runtime. In addition to offering the ability to connect to remote Web sites and publish content, they also provide components that generate HTML and client script while you are developing the site, as well as components that provide special functionality when the Web site is browsed.

To publish with the FrontPage Server Extensions, you will need to have the FrontPage Server Extensions installed on the remote Web site. It is not necessary to install the FrontPage Server Extensions on the local Web site.

When you publish with FrontPage Server Extensions, you will usually publish to the same address that you would use when browsing the remote Web site in your Web browser. For example, if I were publishing a local copy of my Web site from c:\WebSites\JimcoSoftware to my public Web site using the FrontPage Server Extensions, I would enter a destination address of http://www.jimcosoftware.com.

WebDAV

WebDAV is really just an extension of the HTTP protocol, and therefore shares many of the same benefits offered by the FrontPage Server Extensions. In fact, the options available in the dialog for publishing a Web site in Expression Web via WebDAV are identical to those available when publishing using the FrontPage Server Extensions.

There are many benefits to using WebDAV.

  • Firewalls are generally not an issue due to the fact that WebDAV extends HTTP, the protocol used when browsing the Web.
  • WebDAV supports strong authentication so you can ensure the security of your data.
  • WebDAV supports encryption for another layer of protection for your data.
  • WebDAV includes support for file versioning and resource locking so that one user won't overwrite another user's work.

WebDAV is already a part of your operating system. In fact, when you create a shortcut to an HTTP location in My Network Places, Windows uses WebDAV to create that link if the FrontPage Server Extensions are not installed on the remote server.

To use WebDAV to publish your Expression Web Web site, your hosting company or system administrator must provide support for WebDAV.

FTP

FTP has been around a long time and is widely used by many Web developers for transferring Web content. In fact, the first FTP standard appeared in 1971, long before the advent of the World Wide Web.

FTP is generally not secured. That means that it's possible for someone to intercept your username and password. There are actually several options available for secure FTP. However, Expression Web does not support any of these methods. If you want to use secure FTP, you'll need to use a third-party FTP client.

FTP is a reliable method of transferring files between computers. However, there are some things to keep in mind when using FTP. Notice in Figure 3.3 that there is a checkbox in the Expression Web dialog that enables what's referred to as passive FTP. There are two types of FTP connections: passive FTP and active FTP. If you experience trouble when using FTP (especially when publishing through a firewall), enabling passive FTP will usually resolve the issue.

Figure 3.3

Figure 3.3 Expression Web supports both passive and active FTP. One of the two will work fine in almost all cases.

File System

The File System method of publishing is used most often in situations where both the local and remote locations are on the same network. For this method to work, you must have a connection to the remote server that allows for access via a UNC (Universal Naming Convention) path.

A UNC path consists of a server name and a share name using the syntax \\server\share. It's also possible to set up a mapped drive so that you can refer to a UNC share using a drive letter. UNC paths and mapped drives use the same underlying architecture.

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