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Help desk: how to use your Toronto Free-Net webspace.

Summary for experienced folk

TFN provides webspace, not websites.

TFN isn't currently set up to register personal domains.  We eventually will be, because members are requesting it.

All TFN members, even those subscribed at the free-of-charge "Basic" access level, receive webspace.  The amount of storage in the webspace depends on the subscription level.

Upload your files to
Login with the username you use for your TFN email, eg "aa123".

View your pages at:<username>/

webspace versus websites

Having webspace is different from having a website:


A website involves registering a domain of your own, for example "", then arranging to host that domain on a server.  Your web pages fill the entire website.

webspace involves publishing your web pages at a domain that is shared with other people, such as "".  With webspace, you control only your own web pages, not the overall website.

From the perspective of the person who writes the pages (you), a website provides more flexibility but webspace is simpler.

From the perspective of people browsing your pages, the difference is in the URL's length: webspace URLs tend to be longer.  This matters if you want people to remember the URL, to type it by hand, as one might do after seeing an advertisement for a website in a newspaper or hearing about it on the radio.

Directories, web pages, and the index.html file

Your webspace consists of a directory, which is initially empty.  "Directory" is just another word for "folder".  Inside this empty directory, you can place files as well as more directories (a directory that is within another directory can also be called a subdirectory).

Typically, web pages are text files whose name ends in ".html".  These contain the text which you want to publish, in a special notation called "HTML markup".

TFN's web server expects the main web page in each directory to be a file named "index.html".  This page is intended to contain the hyperlinks by which your audience is guided into reaching your other pages.  The files for your other pages can be placed in the same directory as the index.html file or you can separate them into groups, by creating subdirectories and placing the files in there.  Subdirectories help keep things organized when you have many files.

If a directory contains a file named "index.html", and someone tries to browse the directory itself (eg by typing its URL in a browser), then TFN's web server displays the index.html file instead.  If no such file exists, then the web server displays a clickable list of all the files in the directory.

Note that one can create web pages which aren't reachable from the rest of the web — no hyperlinks to them.  Such pages are called islands: one can view them, but only if they know the exact URL.

How to create a web page

You can create a web page, such as your initial index.html page, by using a simple text editor, such as nano, TextEdit, or Notepad.  A fancy word processor, such as Open Office or MS-Word, works too.  Finally, there are software programs designed specifically for creating web pages.  They facilitate more advanced work.  Examples include SeaMonkey and Dreamweaver.

There are two ways to go about creating web pages: you can type the HTML markup by hand or you can type only the text, then let a program add the markup.  Different programs generate different HTML.  Some do a better job than others.  Since the middle of the decade of 2000, most word processors can generate HTML — look for a "save as" menu item, then choose "HTML".  Editors cannot generate HTML — you must type the markup in yourself.  Web pages whose HTML is entered by hand are almost always more compact, so they load faster than web pages generated by word processors.

If you use a word processor but you type the HTML markup yourself, be sure to save the file as "ASCII text" or as "DOS text" (whichever option your word processor provides), and then rename it, changing its suffix to ".html".  By default, a word processor will save the file in its own, native format, often named ".odt" or ".doc".  It can't tell that your creation is actually an HTML file.

Upload the web page to your TFN webspace

Currently, you must phone or visit the TFN office to enable uploading.  You only need to do this once, to begin using your webspace.

View your web page

Start a web browser, click in its URL field (towards the top left of the browser's window), and type the URL of your webspace.

Eg, if your username is aa123, type:

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