Home Pages - Fundamentals

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Your "home page" is the greeting page for your site. All web pages, behind the scenes, have a filename, but your "home page" is typically referenced by specifying just the server name (e.g. www.google.com, www.lythgoes.net) or the server name and a folder name (e.g www.robinr.org/family, etc.). This is possible because all web servers are configured with certain default filenames that they load when no filename is specified. Almost all servers support several default filenames (which the server looks for in a specific order), and the almost all servers that support TNS use the default filenames index.html and index.php (among others).

Your website domain name

However you set up your TNG site, it will (almost certainly) be part of a web server with a two-part domain name such as lythgoes.net, somegeekintn.com, royandboucher.com, or robinr.com. (These names were picked from the list of TNG sites on the TNG marketing site.) In this document, I will refer to your server as mywebsite.com.

On most web servers, you can refer to your server (or your site) by its two-part name (e.g. mywebsite.com), or by the three-part name www.mywebsite.com. The two names are (usually) equivalent.

One or two home pages

TNG can be installed at the root of a web server, in which case your TNG home page is the same as your website home page (like www.robinsonandblythe.org, the TNG site of Jeff Robison, a frequent TNG mod contributer). TNG can also be installed in a subfolder of the web server root (like lythgoes.net/genealogy, the genealogy site of Darrin Lythgoe, the author of TNG).

If you install TNG in a subfolder,

  • Your web server is more flexible, as you can use other subfolders (and your root folder, for matter) for other content, but
  • You'll need some kind of home page for the server. See the article Web Site Home Page

Your TNG "main" folder

There are several different web server management packages, and different ones use different folder names for the web site's "root" folder. So, depending on your web site provider's software, your root folder may be named "www", "public_html", "html", or really, almost anything. If you don't see a "www" or "public_html" folder when you look at your web server through FTP or a web site administrative tool, consult your web site service provider's documentation.

Your TNG files can be installed directly in (i.e. copied to) the web server root folder, or in any subfolder that you wish to create. TNG administrators who install TNG in a subfolder commonly use the folder names "genealogy", "roots", or "family". The folder that TNG is installed in - whether it is your server root folder, or a subfolder - is commonly referred to in TNG documentation as the TNG "main" folder.

Web Pages vs. Web Addresses

A simple concept that most web site users can ignore, but that is important to web developers and TNG administrators, is that a "web page" and a "web address" are not necessarily the same thing. When you see a web address such as www.robinr.org/family/getperson.php, the file getperson.php is actually a PHP program that

  • may, like any HTML page, pull images into the web page, and
  • may, unlike regular HTML pages, invoke other PHP programs in order to produce the web page.

Depending on the data it reads (some of which may be displayed on the address line, and some of which may be hidden), one web address can produce very different web pages at different times.

Your TNG home page

The TNG home page is the index.php file in your main TNG directory. Index.php is a special "default page" for most web servers, so you can refer to your home page from a web browser without having to specify the filename index.php. That is, you can refer to your home page as mywebsite.com/index.php or just as mywebsite.com. (Or, as noted above, as www.mywebsite.com/index.php or www.mywebsite.com.)

If you install TNG in a folder below the server root, you'll need to include that folder name in your home page web address. If, for example, you use the folder name "genealogy", then your TNG home page will be mywebsite.com/genealogy/index.php or mywebsite.com/genealogy/. (Or, of course, www.mywebsite.com/genealogy/index.php or www.mywebsite.com/genealogy.)

If you use a template

If you are using a TNG template, as most TNG sites do, you must use TNG's administrative setup screens to select a numbered template. The main index.php file will actually then read (or "include") another index.php file stored in a template folder. Template 1's files are in the subfolder template/template1/, Template 2's files are in templates/template2/, and so on.

To customize your home page, you can use TNG's administrative setup screens to identify image files and define text blocks that will be incorporated into your home page as users request it.

If you're familiar with HTML (you may need to understand PHP, too), you can make additional modifications to your home page by editing the index.php file for your selected template - and possibly the mytngstyle.css file in the css subfolder within your selected template.

Whether you customize your home page through the administrative setup screens or by editing an index.php file, it is important to realize that all customizations are tied to the template. If you decide to use another template, you will probably need to make similar modifications to the new template. Your old template's customizations will remain intact, however, in case you ever return to your old template.

If you are NOT using a template

If you choose not to use a templates, and you want to customize your home page, you will need to edit the main (the root folder's) index.php, and possibly /css/mytngstyles.css.

Related Links

Home Pages - Fundamentals

Web Site Home Page

Home Pages - Getting Started

Home Pages - Multi-Language

WebApps - The Least You Need To Know

How TNG builds a page