Web server vendors are in a tough position. How can they sell Web server programs if Windows NT includes Internet Information Server (IIS)? Although HTTP might belong in the base OS code, including an HTTP daemon with NT doesn't promote competition. However, O'Reilly & Associates has created a feature-rich Web server—WebSite Professional 2.3.7—that's worth paying for.
At its base level, WebSite Professional is a more expensive version of IIS. If you want to just share data on the Web, IIS is all you need. But if you're interested in manipulating Web data, you'll love what WebSite Professional offers. Two large, well-written manuals come with the program. These comprehensive manuals include information about how to write Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts with Visual Basic (VB) and Visual C++ (VC++).
I tested version 2.3.7, but I had to install WebSite Professional 2.0 first. Installing the software is simple. The setup program asked me for mandatory information (such as destination directories), and I had to decide whether to run the product as an application (which you must start manually) or a service. I didn't plan to use the software as my main Web server, so I installed it as an application. Minutes later, the 60MB program was ready to go.
WebSite Professional 2.0 is missing a few handy features, such as support for 40-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connections and a comprehensive search facility. Upgrading to version 2.3.7 is easy. You can download a 9MB patch from O'Reilly & Associates' Web site. After upgrading the code to version 2.3.7, I was ready to share my documents on the Web.
The first time you launch WebSite Professional, you can configure the server. If your Web server isn't secure, you can password-protect the configuration utility. Screen 1 shows the Server tab on the WebSite Server Properties window. In this dialog box, you can set parameters such as the port the daemon runs on, the server's host name, access control (you can use NT LAN Manager—NTLM—authentication for the Web server), and Active Server Pages (ASP) controls. After you configure the server, you can launch the daemon as a service or an application.
The software includes several useful utilities. Using an enhanced HTML command set called iHTML (i.e., inline HTML) Pro, you can create dynamic Web programs. iHTML Pro provides more than 100 tags that you can use in your Web documents to control functions such as ODBC database access and mathematical equations. WebSite Professional includes a merchant server—iHTML Merchant—for businesses that engage in e-commerce. iHTML Merchant includes all the standard e-commerce server features, such as credit card verification, sales tax calculation, and shopping cart support. For secure transactions, the product uses SSL 3.0. A robust image map editor, a serverside Java Virtual Machine (JVM), and CGI and ASP support round out the package.
WebSite Professional has everything you need to build and run a Web server. O'Reilly & Associates' Web-in-a-box approach makes the product a worthy addition to any system. The software has the stability of IIS, and you won't have to worry about your daemon spontaneously crashing. The product's reliability and useful features justify its price.
|WebSite Professional 2.3.7|
Contact: O'Reilly & Associates * 707-829-0515|
System Requirements: 486 processor or better
32MB of RAM (64MB recommended)
40MB of hard disk space
TCP/IP network protocol