Installing Scripts – The Eternal Questions

If you’ve ever written a server-side script intended for distribution (as opposed to personal use), you’ve probably encountered the problem of needing to write a tutorial detailing the installation and setting up of the script. There are several typical tasks that you might need to describe – setting file permissions, creating a database, etc.

Don’t you wish there was a complete, beginner-friendly tutorial you could link to and not worry about reinventing the wheel? Unfortunately, after spending about an hour on Google, I had to give up on finding the “perfect tutorial” – everything I came across was either very specific (focusing on one particular application or system) or not sufficiently thorough. Still, there is some useful stuff…

How To Upload The Script (Using FTP)
It is possible that even relatively experienced users who have their own website wouldn’t know how to use FTP. This might seem counter-intuitive at first; the problem is that with all the WYSIWIG site builders, free blogs and automatically installed CMS, FTP knowledge may not be necessary. The simplest solution is to point the user to your favourite FTP client and hope they figure it out 🙂

How To Set File Permissions (FTP and CHMOD)
If your PHP or CGI script needs to use files to store data, you need to set file permissions so that the files are writable by the script. Doing this usually is as simple as right-clicking the file in ones’ FTP client and locating a menu item similar to “chmod”, “properties”. However, this page describes file permissions in more detail and might be useful for additional information.

How To Create A Database
Chances are the webserver has cPanel installed and the database management system of choice is MySQL. If that’s the case, you can use this illustrated tutorial – How to create a MySQL database in cPanel (+ this flash tutorial).

How To Create A Cronjob
Some scripts need to be executed periodically. The most popular method to achieve this is to use cron – a time-based scheduling service in Unix and Unix-like operating systems. Here’s a flash tutorial demonstrating how to set up a new cronjob (scheduled task) in cPanel.

By the way : Here’s an interesting concept – Universal Web Application Installer (PDF)

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