"Hosted" GuestbooksAre you willing to use a guestbook service hosted on another website? If you are, then setting up your guestbook is very simple.
www.a-free-guestbook.com offers a remarkably high-quality, free guestbook service. You can get a free guestbook just by signing up on their site. Surprisingly, their guestbook service currently has no advertising, even though the service is free.
While it's not certain that their site will always be 100% free of charge and free of advertising, it's definitely an attractive option right now... if you don't mind linking to your guestbook on another site, instead of making it part of your own.
There are also guestbook services that cost money. But if you're going to spend money, it makes more sense to upgrade your web hosting account to one that allows PHP, and run your own guestbook that you fully control.
Building Your Own GuestbookSome users will prefer a guestbook that is part of their own website. And there are many guestbook scripts available on the Web. Quite a few of these are free, at least for noncommercial use. Your web hosting account does have to allow PHP, Perl/CGI or ASP before you can use these. Most free web hosting services do not allow any of these— sooner or later you get what you pay for. But your free web hosting company may also offer a built-in guestbook feature, so be sure to check their documentation.
HTML determines what your web page will look like. But it can't make your web page actually do anything. Such as permanently saving a guestbook entry, for instance.
This is the reason why tools like PHP and ASP exist: to take things one step beyond HTML and let you actually do things with your HTML forms.
So HTML all by itself can't make a guestbook. But together with PHP, or another programming language on the web server, HTML can be part of a guestbook.
Does that mean it's scary and hard to make a guestbook? Not at all! PHP is designed to easily "added in" to your HTML. It's not that difficult and if you're interested in doing this yourself I'll show you how.
Good Guestbook Programs To TryThe Ardguest Free PHP Guestbook Script is a simple, free guestbook for those with web hosting that includes PHP. Also see the guestbook section of the PHP Resource Index.
Those who have Windows-based hosting that supports ASP.NET but not PHP might try Uwe Kleim's ASP.NET Guestbook Application. Old-school ASP programmers will want to check out his original ASP Guestbook Application.
Or Try Mine: A Simple Guestbook In PHPFor those who want to know how it all works but need a little help getting started, here is a very simple PHP guestbook page. This will work just fine for you, as long as your host supports PHP. And if you are paying for your web hosting— it probably does support PHP just fine!
Feel free to use my simple guestbook code as a starting point for your own work.
1. Download guestbook.php (packaged in a zip file). Then upload it to your web server space.
2. Required: Change the $adminPassword setting at the top. You'll use this password when you log in to delete unwanted entries. And you will get unwanted entries - people often spam guestbooks.
3. Optional: Set the $guestbook variable to a file path on your web server that is not served up on the web. The default setting will probably work for everyone, but placing the file in the current directory means that users can probably download the raw guestbook file. Is that bad? In this case, not really. But more complex PHP programs might save private user information that not everyone should see.
This is a file path, NOT a URL; for example, /home/myaccountname/guestbook.dat is often correct. If you're not sure, just use the default setting. It's safe enough for a guestbook.
How It WorksFor a detailed discussion of how my guestbook code works, see my article how can I receive form submissions? That article goes into plenty of detail about how to handle form submissions with PHP code.
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