Changes to Microsoft Office Live Small Business

Earlier this year, Microsoft Office Live Small Business (Originally Microsoft Office Live) launched several improvements to their service. I use this service to host my own Web site (LockworldHerald.com), and I’ve blogged about it in the past. Although they no longer offer free domain name registration, they do continue to offer free Web site hosting (which is typically far more expensive than the domain name registration anyway). In the past, I found the service to be very useful to establish an online presence for myself, but was continually frustrated at how difficult it was to edit pages using the built-in page editor. In the end, I simply uploaded all of my Web pages manually to the “Documents” folder – the only folder I had any access to. This allowed me to create my own pages by writing my own HTML codes, but was getting difficult to manage as the number of files grew.

The new improvements to the site now allow even free account holders to design their site using their own Web design tools (I typically use WordPad  or Nvu, but other Web authoring/design tools can be used as well). This new structure allows me to keep my site more organized, but more importantly, it gives me access to the top-level of my site. There are certain Web services that require authentication by checking for files in the root directory (Like Google Web Apps and Delorie). In addition to making such services available, having access to the root directory also gives me the ability to create a robots.txt file that can tell search engine bots to avoid indexing certain file types or folders. Since I use a lot of AjaxIncludes scripting, this is a very nice way to keep all of those partial Web pages out of the search engine results.
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Adding an RSS feed to your site

A few months ago, I thought I was “back” to blogging, but it turns out I still had some unresolved issues. I’ve had a lot of trouble lately getting online to post to this blog and continue my explorations of all things Web-related. Fortunately, however, I think I’m finally ready to get back online on a regular basis to keep all of the tips and tricks coming here on The Web for You. I’m not making any promises at this point, but I’ll do my best.

In my last post, I told you I’d be describing how to add an RSS feed to your Web site. When I first conceived of this project several months ago, I wasn’t sure how to proceed. For one thing, Microsoft Office Small Business Live (MOSBL – formerly Microsoft Office Live) had several restrictions in place that made it difficult to add an RSS feed to your site. While several of these restrictions may still be in place if you’re using the default Web page editor, the good news is that even the free (Basic) version of MOSBL now allows you to use “third-party” design tools to build your site. That means that you’re no longer restricted to using only the existing design tool, and you can write your own HTML codes, including the META tags needed to add an RSS feed to your site (more on this later in this post).

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Content Management using AjaxInclude: Pros and Cons

Custom-assemble your Web page from multiple files

In my last post, I introduced the idea of assembling your Web site from multiple files using a JavaScript version of AjaxInclude. Please note that this idea is primarily intended for people using Microsoft Office Live Basics, or some other Web-hosting service that does not allow them to use true server-side includes on their Web sites. AjaxInclude scripts (available from Dynamic Drive) are intended to provide the minimal functionality (from a user’s perspective) to mimic a true server-side include script. The techniques discussed in this post, however, can be applied to any Web page. If you aren’t familiar with ASP, PHP, or PERL programming, you can use AjaxInclude to build similar functionality into any Web site.

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New project: Content Management

I am currently working on a new content management system for Lockworld Herald. Although I am very pleased with Microsoft’s new “Office Live Basics” service, there is no doubt that the standard Web-building service is simply inadequate. There are far too many problems with the way the site is designed to build a professional-looking site using this service.

Scripting problems:

One of the biggest problems with Microsoft Office Live Basics (MOLB) is the inability to use “external” JavaScripts on your site. For my purposes, I am using the term “external JavaScript” to refer to any JavaScript codes that reside outside of the page being viewed…whether on your MOLB site or elsewhere on the Web. In my experience, almost all external JavaScript codes completely disable not only my MOLB site, but crash the entire browser. Since JavaScript is such a standard feature for Web sites, this is simply unacceptable.

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