Adding CGI interactivity for free
Knowing CGI's effectiveness is enough for a web designer to start dreaming of a interactive website. Consider a website with e-polls, Message Boards/Forums, site search, guest book, user registration and a field to enter your e-mail address to receive site updates etc. These are some of features one can add using CGI scripts.
But this is just a day dreaming how many of us know scripting languages pearl C etc used to write a CGI script. One may say at least we can download thousands of free scripts available on internet and not to forget many sites dedicated to free CGI scripts like Matt's Script archive, CGI resources and CGI scripts etc
I have many of these free scripts but who know alien language written when you open a .cgi file in notepad it usually gives you too much complex instructions about how you should install it properly and expected errors messages that may appear. Before all this you have to have a web space where you have access to cgi bin ( Perl language available on web server)
So if you have a web site on free server that usually do not provide cgi access you should search for another free server with a CGI access or you have to pay to some web hosting company that will give you access to cgi bin. But like me many of others would not be willing to spend money just to try how cgi scripts are installed. You may have stopped thinking of cgi driven interactive site. Still you have a option to use cgi scripts without spending a rupee and without shifting your site to a free server that gives CGI bin access (bombarded with ad links, banners and pop ups). You can use free remotely hosted scripts services.
Now lets see all three options to employ cgi interactivity.
1) Free CGI scripts on internet
2) Finding a host free or paid to install your CGI
3) Finding remotely hosted scripts free and paid to employ cgi interactivity.
Since free is most favorable and easy method so it would be in general interest to discuss it in detail.
1) Net is flooded with free scripts if you don't know try these search terms "free cgi scripts" "free cgi directory" and "cgi (forum/poll etc whatever you need ) script".
These are some websites and directories about CGI free scripts.
2) Now you have scripts appropriate to your site needs second step is to find a web host and a bit of help on installing script. lets just quickly look at free web hosting services with CGI access.
a) Tripod : Tripod second largest after geocities provide cgi access free.
pros and cons
keep in mind their server are slow and buggy
Adds are bombarded as banner on every frame (yes every frame) in a page or a pop up ad with every page.
It also support front page extension and FP's built in FTP
If you have FP you can use FP's Guest book, Forum surely plus other
b) Net Firms
net firms is another site that provide cgi access.
pros and cons
There are no ads, yes its ad free free web host.
netfirms requires you to enter your credit card info to create your free account.
In addition they will charge you if you exceed your free web space limit.
There are some free hosts that do not offer cgi access instead they give guest book, forums and counters etc with every account.
here you use script which is not written keeping your needs in mind this will not match with your web some times you can insert your header and footer. See if these scripts are your desired otherwise its better to use a different remotely hosted scripts. Some free web hosts and their add ons.
Book Review: The Non-designer’s Design Book, Second Edition Written by Granny's Mettle
One of books I strongly recommend for non-designers like me is Robin Williams' "Non-Designer's Design Book". It is a must for dummies who want to have a career on graphic designing even without formal education. The book is a good primer for novices and amateurs to help them produce layouts that can catch attention.
The Book provides a practical introduction to basic principles of design, which makes it more appropriate for those who need to put together a media material such as a presentation, a newsletter or a flyer, but doesn't have degree or even background in design.
Written in a pamphlet-sized, 200-page book, author explores designs for printed page.
Robin Williams has put into this book basic principles of good design and typography. It explains step-by-step concepts and methods to help aspiring graphic artists to begin producing more sophisticated, professional and attention-grabbing pages right away.
The book is written in a relaxed manner--- full of humor and free of graphics jargon usually found in other books. To help readers produce great materials instantly, Williams has infused her book with exercises, quizzes, illustrations, and dozens of examples to make learning a snap.
She gamely discussed concept of layout around four (4) basic design principles, namely: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. Each of these has its own chapter with several examples that can be done even in comforts of your home.