What are custom scripts?

This page contains a basic description of custom scripts, as well as links to more information elsewhere.

On this page:

About custom scripts

Custom scripts are software programs that add interactive features to your website. For example, some of the more popular scripts add search boxes, guest books, discussion boards, shopping carts, or clocks to your Web pages.

If you've ever wanted to add something to your site that allows your visitors to see something, or interact with you, in a way that isn't possible with a standard Web page, a custom script can probably do it.

Scripts that run on the server are different than Java applets or JavaScript programs. While all three allow you to use programming languages to create interactive Web pages, the scripts described here are programs that run on our servers, as opposed to Java applets and JavaScript programs that run on the computer of the person visiting your Web page. This tends to make scripts more reliable than Java applets or JavaScript programs, because you don't need to worry about what kind of computer or Web browser your visitor may be using.

Using or creating custom scripts can be intimidating if you haven't done any programming before. On the other hand, many sites on the Internet offer tutorials designed for beginners that you can follow along with. This page should help you decide whether you want to use custom scripts to enhance your website.

Where do custom scripts come from?

We provide standard features on our server that make it possible for you to install and run your own custom scripts, but we can't create them for you.

Therefore, using custom scripts involves either obtaining and installing scripts that somebody else has written, or writing the scripts yourself in a computer programming language (such as "Perl", "PHP", or "C").

Using scripts written by others

There are literally thousands of scripts available from other people on the Internet. Many of them are completely free.

Any script you download should have instructions explaining how to configure and install it. Together with some specific information about our server, found on our Installing and Configuring Custom Scripts and General Script Questions pages, a person with some website skills, confidence, and patience should be able to install and use many of these scripts.

That said, if you have trouble and need free help, you will need to turn to the author of the script, or to a public help forum such as StackExchange.

Creating your own scripts

Another option is to create your own custom script. If you plan on doing so, you'll need to know (or learn) something about computer programming. How much you need to know depends on the complexity of the script you're trying to write: a simple script that displays a random quote on a Web page is something that many people could figure out from a basic tutorial and a couple of hours of fiddling around, especially if they have written any JavaScript or used a text editor to create HTML pages from scratch. On the other hand, a full-blown shopping cart and ordering system that connects to a database could take an experienced programmer several weeks or months to write.

Again, there are many resources on the Internet that can help you learn how to create custom scripts, especially scripts written in the PHP or Perl programming languages.

We should emphasize once more that while we encourage you to try creating your own scripts (it can be a rewarding experience), we can't offer support if you have programming trouble. There are many public forums where you may be able to get help for technical script questions.

Finally, you should read our section on what to do next if you're still struggling.