Getting Started as a Western Information Provider (Overview)

Getting Started as a Western Web Information Provider (Overview)

ITS will help Western faculties, departments, other units, and Western instructors get their information onto one of the Western web servers. The sections that follow describe what you can do to get started.

Find others in your department

First find out if anyone else in your department is working on producing a departmental web page. You might be able to pool your resources.

Get an account to access the Western Web Server

The model that ITS uses for Western web information providers requires that you generate and update your web pages. You take responsibility for their content and ITS takes the role of consultant and technical advisor. While much of the work can be done off-line on your local machine, the actual installation and update of your pages has to be done on the Western Web Server, Generally, you will use your computer account to maintain your data.  All faculty and staff are provided with a personal computer account at the time they commence their employment at Western.

Our current procedures are designed for one person to own the files. If you want to share the responsibilities, special arrangements will need to be made.  Sharing is technically not possible using a personal computer account.You will also need to become familiar with Secure FTP.

Become familiar with web browsers

Become familiar with a couple of web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Safari.

Browse the Western Web Resource Centre

Read and regularly browse through this collection of pages. Communications & Public Affairs provides a template on their Web Design and Development page so that your departmental website has the same look and feel as the Western Home Page.

Learn about HTML

HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) is a way of defining the structure of documents to be provided via a World Wide Web server. The ITS Training Program offers courses in Dreamweaver and some other web-related training.

There are a number of good introductory documents that describe the elements of HTML.

•    HTML Goodies
•    HTML Code Tutorial
•    HTML approved standards are on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) website.

Build your pages on your personal workstation

Build your pages on your own computer either using Dreamweaver or coding in HTML. See HTML Writing Aids and Tips. Most web browsers will allow you to preview your pages as you build them.

Look at some of the pages of others in your field or others at Western to get ideas about how pages are laid out and how to use HTML. Also read the information on the Communications & Public Affairs website.

Browse the central graphics archive

To find graphics for your web page, visit the Communications & Public Affairs. By using these images you can help maintain a consistent look for pages in the Western Web. For more detail see Graphic Standard Guidelines.

Move to the central server

Either in the planning stage or when you think that you have a first version ready to go and you have your computer account properly set up, please contact the Web Admin team to get an area defined on for your information. Given a unit name (or abbreviation), we will provide you with a web directory, owned by you and accessible from your computer account with the form /web/www/your-unit-name. This disk area is accessible via Secure FTP to At this time, your e-mail address will also be added to the mailing list for Western Web Information Providers

Once your web-space has been assigned, you can upload your files there via Secure FTP and do some testing through a web browser. You will want to ensure that all of your references to images and hypertext links work in the new environment and that you have all the file protections right (see below).

Note that ITS is currently supplying 250MB of disk space for unit web pages at no charge. Charges begin for space used over 250MB and are given in the ITS Services Document.  See section 4 under Billable Services. 

You can check your current web usage via the form at
The number of kilobytes you are using (1MB = 1000KB) will be displayed.

Working with Unix - Tips

  • The Western web server is running on a Unix machine. The Unix operating system is case-sensitive, and filenames are usually written in lower case. Therefore, using all lower case file names will make things easier for you since you (and the viewers of your pages) will not have to remember where the upper and lower case letters are used.
  • The Western web server uses file extensions to determine the type of file. Files that end in .html (preferred) or .htm are considered to be written using hypertext markup (HTML files). When moving your files from a computer, where HTML files might be given the extension .htm you are encouraged to add a trailing "l" to the file name. This rename can be done in your Secure FTP program.
  • When using Secure FTP to upload your files to the, transfer your HTML files in ASCII mode and transfer the JPG and GIF graphic files and other files (sounds, movie clips etc.) in binary mode.
  • When a URL is specified with no file name, for example instead of the Western server will check the "forestry" directory to see if there is a file named index.html. If the file exists, it will be shown. If the file does not exist, the server will display a page showing all files in that directory and allow the user to choose one.

    We recommend that you use a file named index.html (instead of, for example, forestry.html) as your unit's home page. This allows most browsers to find you by using the simple address: <URL: /> and so provides a default jumping off place for your information. It also makes it more difficult for others to casually browse your area since if a file isn't linked in, you must know its exact name to view it.
  • When you try to view your files via a browser after uploading them into your web area you may see a message like

    403 Forbidden

    Your client does not have permission to get URL /forestry/index.html from this server.

    Error 403 almost always indicates a permissions problem on your file. The web server can only serve files that have their protection or mode set so that they are readable by ``all''. To re-set the permissions of your files, login to, set your path to your web area and then set permissions on folders to 755 and files to 644.
  • For SSH Secure FTP, you can set up a configuration for a connection to such that all files transferred are automatically readable by all. The procedure outlined in the online SSH User Manual need only be performed once to define a new profile. Once that profile is defined, just use the profile name (i.e. Web Site) when connecting to transfer files to your web area.

NOTE: Uncheck the box “Preserve original destination permissions”.

Go Public

Finally, once you are satisfied that you have a version that is ready for public view (we don't expect it ever to be finished -- it is very important to keep your information current), please run it through an HTML checker. See Checking Your HTML Documents. Then contact Communications & Public Affairs and the group(s) responsible for the official places where your page should be linked into the main web tree (contact names and addresses should appear at the bottom of each page).

All courses are set up in OWL automatically.  For information, see the OWL home page.

Throughout the above process, if you periodically keep advised of your progress, it will help us keep track of what is in the works.

Please address your questions to the ITS Customer Support Centre 519-661-3800, ext. 83800 (SSB 4100).

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