Years ago I worked with Hewlett-Packard on the first online-configuration and
pricing system on the Web. Now they are ten a penny, but something that we
worked that has never made it to the big time is the ability to build a
representation of what the final machine will look like. Using some of the
tools available today it’s possible to draw a picture within a script and then
supply the information directly back to the browser.
Development and Production Servers
No matter what platform you are working on, or what type of site you are
working on, having two different servers, one for development and the one that
actually hosts the site. Keeping the two sites separate is not a problem, but
making sure that you can easily and painlessly move your development server
data to the real server requires some careful planning and a few tricks.
Error Handling and Debugging
Making sure that you don’t provide your uses with a 404 message, or that your
script doesn’t produce a useless result is vital if you want to keep the
professionalism of your site at it’s highest level. Apache provides its own
solutions, but you also need to make sure your scripts are as clean and
bug-free as possible, which can be difficult when your only means of monitoring
the script is with a combination of the Web interface and the error files
produced by Apache.
Parsing Apache Logs
Even with the addition of sessions and cookies, you still need to be able to
read and parse the log files that Apache produces to monitor your web site’s
usage, performance, bottlenecks, and errors. There are many ways of doing this,
from custom-built solutions, to free analyzers like Analog, and even commercial
systems like Funnel Web. They all provide similar functionality, but you still
need to know how to use the information they output to ensure the best
availability for your site.
For this series of articles we’ll be covering all these issues, and many
more, in terms of Apache and the scripting languages like Perl, Python and
Rebol, and solutions like Zope and PHP.
If there’s a product or solution that you’ve been looking for to do with
E-Commerce then just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do!
Martin C. Brown is a full-time writer and consultant specializing in multiplatform
integration and internet technologies. He is author of both the Perl and
Python Annotated Archives and Perl The Complete Reference.