educational

Free Tools for Webmasters

James Edwards
Aside from content, the most important factor that will distinguish one adult site from another is the site’s design and overall feeling. If a site looks mediocre, well then, how important can it be? If a website is flashy and slick and stands out, it has a better chance of being taken seriously and drawing in repeat customers.

Even though most websites are based on HTML, in today’s online adult environment, many additional functions are needed to maintain and manage a full-featured adult website. These functions require more than simply HTML to be implemented. They require languages that can communicate with databases, perform encryption and initiate complex graphical commands.

The open-source language of choice for HTML scripting is PHP, an open-source language developed in 1995. The acronym means Personal Home Page. PHP originally was designed to be a forms interpreter to use for programming tasks that can’t be done with HTML. Today there are free PHP scripts for almost everything an adult webmaster can imagine.

Slide Shows and DRM Scripts
A slide show is a series of pictures that appear in a particular sequence. Sometimes a free slide show is a good way to lure customers to your site. You can display your erotic content in sequences and update them with ease. In most cases, a slide show will allow the user to navigate through a series of images; therefore, buttons and frames and control of these objects are necessary and go beyond what HTML can effectively do. PHPSlideShow is one such free script offering what will allow you to create slideshows. You can download this product at www.zinkwazi.com.

Video content, though inherently more sophisticated than a slide show, actually is easier to display, since HTML has inherent commands to evoke video players on a customer’s PC, such as Apple’s QuickTime. Yet scripting still comes into play when you seek a higher level of protection for your digital property, thus using digital rights management services. Microsoft offers an expensive DRM package that runs on Windows platforms, yet within the open-source community there are free content management systems (CMS) that allow webmasters to protect video and other online material.

Two popular variations of open source CMS packages are PHPNuke and PostNuke. These tools allow you to protect your content primarily through storing content in a database such as MySQL or Interbase. The advantage of CMS software is that it is portal software, meaning that it automatically allows you to build websites and manage them without the need to know complex HTML. You can download PHPNuke for free at www.phpnuke.org and PostNuke, which runs on Windows, for free at www.postnuke.com.

Another good open source CMS package is OpenCMS, which is implemented through Java and XML technology instead of PHP. One advantage of OpenCMS is that it is compatible with more commercial databases such as Oracle or SQL Server. You can download OpenCMS for free at www.opencms.org.

Membership Databases
Many startup adult websites use a third party to track membership, password and payment information. If you want do that yourself, you should use an open source database to store your membership and credit card data. If you are communicating to a database, you probably also will want to utilize PHP as the database interface to your HTML web pages.

Instead of reinventing the wheel and writing a PHP interface to a database, there are many scripts already written for that purpose. One of the best websites for PHP scripts, organized by category, is www.hotscripts.com. Not only can webmasters find database interface scripts but also e-commerce scripts and even a category for matchmaking and live chat.

Another good PHP scripting site is www.phpworld.com. PHPworld contains many useful articles on the basics of hooking your web page to a relational database such as MySQL or the Oracle RDBMS.

Adult Blogs
These days blogs are all the rage, and in the adult industry the blog is an important tool when customers become attached to different girls or guys who appear in online content. Video and slide show interfaces don’t really give an adult website the personal touch; you need models keeping diaries and sharing their amorous thoughts with potential customers. This will ensure more repeat business and create a more intimate bond between your content and your customers.

A great free blogging resource is www.fatscripts.com. Yet beware, some of the blogging scripts at FatScripts are shareware and need to be purchased. One of the best free blogging tools is PluggedOut Blog. This interface allows for visitor comments, comes with many predefined templates and is RSS 2.0 compatible, thus allowing for XML publishing. You can download this tool directly at www.pluggedout.com.

Live Chat
Many fun adult websites have live chat forums. These forums are essentially realtime blogs where groups of people chat together in a central “room.” The most popular chat forums are those of AOL, Yahoo and ICQ, but you can easily start a chat forum at your own adult site. Have a few of your models invite in customers, and then just talk it up. Just like with blogs, this will create a friendlier atmosphere within your website and will supercharge your content.

There are many free PHP scripts at the sites mentioned above for creating your own live chatrooms. One popular tool is PHPOpenChat. This software allows for moderators, password-protected chatrooms and even multilingual support. You can download this tool for free at www.phpopenchat.org.

With all the interesting free open-source tools out there, webmasters of both established and new adult websites should constantly be staying on the technological edge by providing chatrooms, blogs and well-managed video services for visitors. Using free, open-source solutions such as those discussed will give your customers more interface opportunities and will result in more time and money spent on your site as opposed to other, less appealing venues.

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