7is7.com > About > Building and Maintaining this Website
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Building and Maintaining this Website

The following is a short explanation of how this website is being built and maintained. It is mostly done using free software tools and services.


As with a house you need a good foundation for a website. Starting with a reliable operating system and HTTP server. The obvious choices are:

Our chosen hosting provider, Dreamhost, offers this kind of setup and does not needlessly limit access or features.

Making Webpages

A text editor from the UNIX environment, namely vi is my tool of choice. The pages generally only use the following 3 components: HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I dislike HTML editors because they generate bloated pages which take longer to download and not all the possibilities are available. Editing the code directly gives me full control over the pages.

Some pages, such as those containing photos are generated from templates using page generation software that I have written for online shopping sites. A photo is simply defined as a product with a short description and the photo itself as the photo of the "product". Only one page has to be made, the template, from which the "product" pages are then generated.

Checking Webpages

To ensure that my webpages will work on most browsers and platforms and my visitors will not be confronted with dead links I use several methods and services.

The World Wide Web Consortium provides 3 great online services to check the validity of webpages:

I have written a few useful bookmarklets to access these services directly for any page that you are visiting.

Mozilla's Firefox browser also has several useful plugins for checking webpages:

You can also download the application HTML tidy based on the W3C HTML validator which can update your HTML into correct code.

My spelling checker is based on a small script I have written that extracts all the text from an HTML page and then runs the text through GNU Aspell. This has its limitations as there is no grammar or context checking, but it sure is better than nothing since I still am surprised by the number of spelling mistakes that it does find!

Added Functionality

For implementation of the search function on my website I use Perlfect Search, which is an easy to install package. It is totally configurable and it is open source. The software indexes my site and permits visitors to search this index.

For visitor statistics I use my own software, StatEye, which I distribute as open source under GNU GPL. Read the website's statistics to see an overview of the collected information.

Monitoring of the site is done through Montastic, a free monitoring service that can notify you by e-mail when your site is down and offers a live status feed.

Home PC Applications

The most important desktop applications that I use to build this website on my home PCs are:

Under Linux, Fedora (the free version of Red Hat) includes the following tools:

Under Windows I used to use the following tools (I have fully migrated to Linux at home):

What does 7is7 mean?

I was inspired by Ayn Rand's book Atlas Shrugged, which has a chapter called "A is A". However aisa.com does not convey this concept well (and has probably already been taken anyway). Then there is something about the number 7... One evening these two concepts merged accidentally into one.

A domain name has to be short and easy to remember, the four-letter domain name 7is7.com seems to do just that.

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