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Manual: Unix-Based Web Hosting

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  • VisitorBook Pro!

    Installing VBPro: Using the Master Admin program

    VisitorBook Pro was designed from the ground up as a guestbook system that could easily be modified and controlled through the web. One of VBPro's most powerful programs, the Master Admin program allows you to create, maintain, and delete any number of guestbooks in your guestbook system.

    In later chapters in this section, we delve into the specifics of how different modes of the program work. For now, let's just get accquainted with the basic functionality of the program as a whole.

    The Master Admin program (and the VBPro system in general) is written with the assumption that in the installed guestbook system, there will be one "master admin" who controls the maintainence of the guestbook system and oversees adding news books and related tasks. This master admin is assumed to be a trusted person who is familiar with and has access to your web site and server information.

    Most likely, you are the master administrator. Alternatively, the master admin could be a few trusted people (yourself included) to whom you have given access information for the master admin program. In any case, it should be hard to figure out who we are refering to when we talk about the master admin.

    In order to do any sort of editing or administrative functions built in to the master admin program, the master admin must first login. The VBPro distribution comes with a file called "masterlogin.html". This file in turn has a form for logging in to the CGI. Be sure to edit this form to point to the correct CGI on your server.

    You probably uploaded this HTML login form to some place on your web site. Find it, and view the login page in your favorite web browser. By default, VisitorBook Pro is written with a standard master admin user ID of "admin" and a corresponding password as "admin". (Remember: after you log in for the first time, the first thing you should do is change this password to something less obvious and more secure. Otherwise, anyone guessing or reading the VBPro documentation could gain access to your system with very little effort.

    After you login for the first time, you will see a few different modes on the master admin main page. They are described below:

    New VisitorBook
    This mode is used for adding a new guestbook to the VBPro system. New guestbooks can be created online based on any pre-defined layout or with custom HTML and options. Creating a new VisitorBook can last anywhere from two to twenty minutes, depending on desired complexity.

    Delete a VisitorBook
    This mode is fairly obvious; it is used for erasing a VisitorBook, including all posts and related from-submitted data.

    Edit a VisitorBook
    This powerful mode can be used to access, display, and modify any preferences set for any book in the current guestbook system.

    Change Master Password
    Click on this mode for a very simple password-changing screen.

    For more detailed descriptions of how these modes operate, continue by selecting the desired chapter at left.

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  • Installing VBPro: Creating a new book

    Creating a new guestbook with the master admin program is typically very quick and painless. Depending on your needs, you can set up a book from scratch or use a pre-defined layout. We will cover both methods on this page. Regardless of which method you choose, some basic information is required that both methods use. So, we will describe the setup process up until the point where you choose what method you'd like, and then we'll describe what to do for each method.

    First, begin by pressing the button marked "New VisitorBook". This will bring you to the first page of the setup process. You are asked to fill in a few required fields:

    Book Name
    This is the name of the book. You can use a word or series of words for this value; it is simply used by the admin program to identify the book. (For example, "Company Guestbook", "Public Guestbook", "Visitors", etc..)

    Book ID
    Every guestbook in the system must have a unique ID so that the scripts know what book to deal with. Type in a short but meaningful identifier.

    Login Password
    Using the user admin program, you can let the "owner" of this book (if it is not you) to log in and modify current entries and book preferences.

    After you figure out these fields, click next to continue the setup process. The next page details setup of the live directory.You must create a live directory on your web site where all web files will be stored. This is where the guestbook will actually be located on your site. Specifically, the default thank you page and actual guestbook page will be created in this directory.

    Live Directory Path
    A base path is defined and displayed above this text input. If you want to place the live directory in some pre-existing directory in this base path, enter it here. This can safely be left blank if the base path was setup correctly.

    Live Directory Name
    This is the name of the directory that will be created -- in fact, it is the live directory where entry files and such will be stored. You should probably leave this as the same name as the book ID unless you have some compelling reason not to.

    Entry File
    File that will be created to store the actual guestbook (with entries).

    You must choose a name for the live directory, and a location for it. For example, if you wanted to store your guestbook files in www.mysite.xyz/html/guestbook, you would set the Live Directory Path to html and Live Directory Name to guestbook.

    Also, note that only the actual Live Directory will be created. For example, if you set the path to html/pages/morestuff, all of those directories must first exist. In other words, the system will not make any other directories to accomodate your path.

    The value for Entry File is the name of the file (that will be created by the system) which will print guestbook entries.

    Creating a new book: using a template

    VisitorBook Pro's built-in templates let you quickly build a new guestbook based on one of a variety of HTML layouts and styles. This method should work well for most situations; unless you have a specific idea of exactly what fields you want and other such options, you should be able to find a suitable template with which to base your new book.

    The important thing to understand about templates is that they merely exist in the setup program; if you make a new book using the "Standard Guestbook" template, you can always change any setup information at a later date. Think of templates as a way to transparently fill in default values for book options, field information, and HTML layout.

    Most users choose to create a new book based on a template, and customize it later as their needs see fit.

    If you re going to create your book based on a template, select the template from the pop-up mennu and click "Use Template". Command-O Software includes a few sampler templates that should be enough to get you started; you can create additional templates on your own or check visitorbook.com for updated template downloads.

    The next page you will see is the last page of the book setup. It gives you a chance to review and modify any setup parameters you wish. Once you have made any changes you desire, click on the "Create Book" button and your new book will be created.

    Creating a new book: using custom options

    VisitorBook Pro's master admin program has the powerful ability to create an entirely new guestbook through your web browser. You can specify every parameter of the book, define any number of fields, and set all relevant options online so your new book is ready-to-go once you create it!

    Though this method is powerful, it is more time consuming than setting up a book with a template. Review this method prior to cerating a book with it; you will need to prepare some HTML ahead of time to paste into a form input, for example.

    Click on the "Custom Book Setup Assistant" button. You see a form where you can add fields. You can create a new field of your own by typing in the expected form input and a title, or you can use one of several built in fields. Specifically:

    System Date
    The date, according to your server, at the time the form was submitted.

    System Time
    The time, according to your server, at the time the form was submitted.

    User IP Address
    The remote address of the user. If the user's web browser send VBPro the user's hostname (eg, user005.serviceprovider.xyz), VBPro will record that value. Else, it will simply record the user's IP address (eg,

    Below the form section, you will see a section of all fields currently in the new guestbook. Click on the number next to the field to remove the field.

    You can play around on this screen all you want, adding and deleting fields at will. Remember, your changes are not saved until you click the submit button near the bottom of the page, labeled "Continue Custom Setup".

    Next, you will be asked to fill out a few template fields. Follow the directions on the page to get a better understanding of how these work and what they do. You may wish to write this part of the setup ahead of time so you can just paste your HTML in; if you spend too long on this page, you might get logged off. Also, it is a good idea to keep a copy of your HTML on your local hard drive (rather than simply typing your book's HTML into the form input) in case you encounter problems later when creating the book. In this manner, you will have a backup offline.

    Alternatively, you could leave these fields blank for now and edit the actual data in the useradmin or masteradmin programs later when you actually want to use the new book.

    When you finish with this page, the next page will present you with a handful of options that you can set on the new book. These are pretty much the same value that you can set and modify later with the admin programs.

    Finally, when you are ready, click "Continue Custom Setup" on this page and you will arrive at the summary page. If all information looks to be in order, click "Create Book". If, however, you see any changes that need to be made, you must usse your browser's back button to return to the appropriate setup stage.

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  • Installing VBPro: Modifying a book

    Modifying a book allows you to instantly change any options or informaton about the guestbook through your web browser. You can change the maximum number of posts, register bad words, or instantly change the way the entire book looks, all through either of the admin programs.

    For this example, we will use the master admin program. The user admin program functions exactly the same as the edit book mode of the master admin program, except that the user admin program will only let the user modify that user's book.

    To modify a book, first log in to the master admin program and press the "Edit a VisitorBook" button. The next screen that will appear asks you to select a book to edit. Since you can modify any book you wish, you must select which book specifically you want to edit. You can only edit one book at a time.

    The next screen that appears is the main book editing screen. You are presented with a few different panels of controls, each with different functions.

    Basic Options
    This section contains a few pretty simple controls on the book. This section controls how entries are dealt with, from processing bad words to limiting the number of entries. Changes to this section should be pretty straightforward; toggle controls on and off using radio buttons and popups.

    This section controls the behavior of the VBPro system and what fields it interprets. You can set which fields are required to contain data by click on the check box for that field in the "Req'd" column. You can also change the form input value, though this is probably not very useful (how often are you going to be changing the names of your form fields?)

    By customizing and modifying the templates in this section, you can quickly change the appearence of your guestbook. If you want each entry to look different, or the entry file's layout to be different, you cannot simply edit the entry HTML file! You must instead edit these templates so that the next time the entry file is generated, it will be refreshed based on these updated templates. Note: every time you click "Submit Changes", the admin program will automatically refresh the entry HTML file, reflecting any changes you have made.

    Banned IPs and Words
    This section controls what words are considered "bad", which may or may not be used to screen posts, depending on your settings. Currently, the badwords are simply checked as a whole word, with one word per line. The banned IPs must be in IP format (eg, and not written as hostnames (eg, user005.serviceprovider.xyz will not function correctly.)

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  • Creating and Maintaining Books: Deleting a book

    Deleting a book is simple, but you should know a few things about how it works before you try to delte a book. The process removes the book's datafiles from the system, but it does not remove the actual HTML. So, the book's directory in your vbfiles folder will be removed, but the guestbook html, form, and any toher related HTML files will not be erased. If you want to get rid of these too, you should do that manually in your FTP or telnet program.

    When you are ready to delete a book, click on the "Delete a VisitorBook" button on the main admin control screen. The next page that appears will prompt you for which book to delete. Select the book from this pop-up menu and click "Select Book".

    Before VBPro erases the files, you will be asked to confim the operation. To do this, you must type the word "yes" in the text box and then click "Delete". The book's datafiles will be permanently erased and you will be returned to the main screen.

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