Become your own publisher

NT WebMaster March 98

By David Strom

Copyright 1998 Windows Sources

If you maintain a web site, chances are you've tried a variety of methods to publish or upload your content to the site. My personal favorite technique is to use an FTP client, such as a shareware program called CuteFTP. It is simple and it works well enough. Files are listed in a two-pane view, and can be stored by date so I can easily see which files I worked on most recently.

But an FTP client isn't everyone's cup of tea, and can be overkill for just sending pages to a web server. Some Internet providers don't have FTP access to their webs, or your corporation may have a firewall blocking the FTP port (typically 21). And keeping track of which files you need to upload when can get confusing.

There is another solution, and a pretty simple one at that from Microsoft, called the Web Publishing Wizard. A relatively small application (about a megabyte of code), WPW takes your files and moves them to a web site of your choosing in a variety of methods, including FTP and HTTP. It runs on both Win95 and NT.

WPW differs from other Microsoft products, such as Front Page and Front Pad, which are primarily HTML authoring tools and web site management utilities. WPW doesn't create any HTML text -- it merely provides the transportation, moving the page from your local hard disk to your web site. You need something else to author the pages themselves.

To make things easier in the transportation department, Microsoft has established a special web posting protocol that is supported by a growing number of Internet providers. Basically, the provider or the web site owner includes a meta tag in the home page of the web site. The tag references a command file by having the following syntax: <META name="postinfo" content="/scripts/postinfo.html">

The postinfo.html file contains controls that the WPW understands. This is just a text file and it looks like this:





The first line is the version number of the Microsoft WPW software. The second line contains a registry key that is used by the posting protocol, and the last two lines contain the IP address and path to where the files will be uploaded on your web site.

There are some drawbacks to use WPW. Unlike many FTP clients, WPW doesn't store your username and password: you'll need to remember these and type it in each time you use WPW to upload your files. And unlike some other publishing products such as Netscape's (see sidebar), it doesn't understand the inherent HTML page structure. This means that WPW doesn't automatically publish the related images and other associated files with each page of HTML -- you have to keep track of these elements and upload them separately if you change them.

So, how to get started? First, go to the link below and download the software. If you have a copy of Microsoft's Site Server or have the NT Server 4.0 Option Pack (beta 3 or better), then you already have WPW -- you might not have installed it or noticed it lurking about your hard disk.

There are several different versions, depending on whether you are running Win95, Intel or Alpha NT and what vintage browser. I used the Netscape version for NT/Intel. To add to this confusion, there is also a separate series of software from Microsoft called the PWS Publishing Wizard. This wizard includes the ability to upload files to but also has additional functions that are used to manage the Peer Web Services software that runs on NT Workstation or Win95 machines.

Once you install WPW, you now have two choices on how to run it: from the Start menu, or from the Explorer display of your file system. This latter method is dirt simple: you right click on the file name you want to upload, then choose Send To and the WPW entries to start up the wizard.

As with any wizard, you'll have a series of screens to fill out. First is the name of your file or folder containing the files that you want to upload. Next is the name of your web site (which can be any name you pick). If this is the first time you are uploading to this site, you'll next see a screen to type in the URL and path to the particular place on your web site where your document is intended. When you have typed in all the information, the wizard asks you for your username and password and proceeds to copy the files to your site. It takes less time to do this than to explain it.

For example, let's say you want to upload mydocument.html to You bring up the wizard, then browse your file system to find the file mydocument.html. Then you specify the URL and your username and password to upload it to your server.

The wizard works on a wide variety of servers (even non-Microsoft ones such as Netscape and Apache) and automatically looks for the right kind of protocol to transfer the file, including using FTP or HTTP. The only tricky part is remembering where on your web site you want to upload the files.


Unlike Microsoft, Netscape's web publishing feature is built-in to its HTML authoring tool, either Navigator Gold or Composer. Here's how you make it work in Composer. When you have finished making edits to your HTML document, press the Publish button on the toolbar or choose File | Publish. This will bring up a dialog box where you enter your web site URL and other information such as your user name and password. And, unlike the Microsoft WPW, there is also a place here to choose to upload the associated images and linked files to the particular page. After you have filled out this box, Composer will copy your file(s) to your web site.

Netscape also offers a second publishing mechanism, but this only works in conjunction with its Enterprise web servers. Called NetShare, it is a Java application that does drag-and-drop transportation of files to Enterprise v3 web sites. And unlike Microsoft's WPW, it also handles updates to links using an Explorer-like visual interface, along with a bunch of other tasks such as tracking revisions to your HTML documents and controlling access. All of this is done within the browser itself.

Product info

Web Publishing Wizard (free)

Microsoft Corp.