Neatline

Building an interactive map using Omeka’s Neatline plugin

Neatline is a plugin for Omeka that allows for the creation of interactive maps and timelines. Neatline allows the user to plot points on geospatial layers that, when clicked, reveal text and media. Users may create records from scratch and add them to their Neatline exhibits, or import existing items from Omeka. See Neatline.org for demos of this tool in action and more documentation.

Before using this tool, you will need to:

1) Install Omeka (see “Installing Omeka”).

2) Install the Neatline plugin to your Omeka site (see the “Installing Plugins” section of the “Installing Omeka” guide).


Contents

Some vocabulary

Setting up (first time only)

Creating Collections and Items in Omeka

Managing your Neatline exhibits in Omeka

Linking your maps to your Omeka home page


Some vocabulary

Item: Omeka’s basic building block, containing text, media, and/or metadata.
Collection: A group of items, typically sharing a common theme.
Record: Neatline’s version of items. Can be created on their own, or imported from an existing item in Omeka.
Exhibit: A Neatline map or timeline; contains your records.
Widget: An add-on tool for Neatline, such as Waypoints.
Spatial layer: A navigable map that Neatline can use, typically pulled from Google Maps. The various options Neatline offers have different aesthetics.

Setting up (first time only)

1. Install the Neatline plugin (see above). Install any additional supporting plugins you’d like, such as Neatline Waypoints.

2. Go to your Plugins page in Omeka. Then, click “Configure” to the right of Neatline. On the configuration page, click the link to developers.google.com/maps/web. If possible, open this link in a new tab, since you’ll soon need to return to the configuration page.

3. On the Google page that opens, click the “GET A KEY” button at top right. Follow the prompts in the pop-up window to create a new project, named whatever you’d like (this title won’t matter for your Neatline projects). When you’re given a long string of characters, copy it. This is your Google Maps API Key. You’ll only need it once.

4. Return to the Neatline configuration page from step 2. Paste your API Key into the text box. Then click the green “Save Changes” button. Neatline is now connected to Google Maps.

5. Click Settings at top right of your Omeka dashboard. In the text box to the right of “ImageMagick Directory Path,” enter this exact text without the quotation marks: “/usr/bin”. Then click the green Save Changes button at top right. This will allow Omeka to handle your images properly.

Neatline is now ready to go!

Creating Collections and Items in Omeka

1. Optional: create one or more collections. This is an organizational tool: by creating collections now, you’ll be able to sort your items or bulk import them to Neatline more easily later. To create a collection, click “Collections” on your lefthand Omeka dashboard menu. Then, click the green Add a Collection button. On the Add a Collection page, give your collection a Title (you can leave all other boxes blank). If you want to add formatting to your text such as bolding or italics, check the box next to “Use HTML,” and more editing options will appear.

When you’re done, check the box next to “Public” and then click the green Add Collection button.

NOTE: You’ll see many fields when creating collections or items, but there’s no need to panic: almost all are optional and exist for archival purposes. Only fields with a * after them are required.

2. Begin creating items. Omeka is a tool for curating artifacts. In this step, you’ll begin this curation by creating items. To create an item, click “Items” on your lefthand Omeka dashboard menu. Then, click the green Add an Item button. On the Add an Item page, give your item a Title and a Description (you can leave all other boxes blank). This is the text that will ultimately appear to viewers of this record on your Neatline map. If you want to add formatting to your text such as bolding or italics, check the box next to “Use HTML,” and more editing options will appear.

Check the box next to “Public.” If you wish to add this item to a collection, select it from the dropdown menu under “Collection.”

If you wish to add images to your item, click the “Files” tab, then click “Choose File.” Follow the prompts to upload an image. To upload more images, click the green Add Another File button. These images will be displayed alongside your text when a viewer clicks the relevant point on your map.

If you wish to add tags to your item, click the “Tags” tab, then enter all desired tags in the text box, separated by commas. Remember to click Add Tag afterward.

When you’re done adding text, files, and tags, click the green Add Item (or Save Changes if you’re editing) button.

You can always find your list of items, with the option to edit each one, by clicking Items on your Omeka dashboard. From the Items page, you can also use the blue Search Items button to filter items by user or tag.

Clicking “Tags” on the Omeka dashboard will bring you to a list of all your tags. Click a tag’s name to edit it, or click the number to its left to view all items with that tag.

Managing your Neatline exhibits in Omeka

1. Create an exhibit. Your Neatline map will be known as an exhibit. It’s now time to create this map. Click Neatline on the lefthand dashboard menu, which brings you to the Browse Exhibits page. Then click the green Create an Exhibit button.

On the Create an Exhibit page: give your exhibit a Title, Narrative (optional but recommended), and Widgets (if you’d like to use Waypoints or another add-on you’ve previously installed). The Narrative is the exhibit’s primary textual description, and it will appear alongside your map.

Scroll down and select a Default Spatial Layer from the dropdown menu. The Default Spatial Layer is the default map style your exhibit will display. You can edit this any time, so try out a few and see which aesthetic you like best. You can also optionally use the Embed Spatial Layers field to allow your viewers to toggle between various map styles.

The only other setting you need to change here (eventually) is Public: when you check this box, your exhibit will be live. When you’re done, click the green Save Exhibit button at the bottom of the form.

2. Access the Neatline editor. Return to the Browse Exhibits page from step 1. To access the editor, click your exhibit’s title. Clicking Public View or Fullscreen View will let you preview how your exhibit will look to visitors.

Here is what the editor looks like. Notice the Records, Styles, and Plugins tabs, and the list of records below the blue New Record button (there won’t be any records until you add some):

3. Set the default focus. This is the latitude/longitude and zoom that viewers will see when they first open your map (they’ll then be able to move it however they’d like). In the editor, click the Styles tab. Click and drag on your map to move it around, and use the + and – symbols at top left to zoom in and out. When you’re satisfied with the current view of the map, click the Use Current Viewport as Default button. This will automatically fill-in coordinates and the depth of zoom. You can also manually add these. When you’re done, click the blue Save button.

4. Import items into your exhibit, which then become records. First, click the Records tab in the editor. Then, click the large blue New Record button.

New tabs will appear. Click the Item tab. You’ll see a dropdown menu called “Search Omeka items.” This will list all the Omeka items you’ve previously created. Find the item you wish to add to the map, and select it. The item’s content appears below the dropdown menu. If it looks correct, click the blue Save button. If not, click “View the item in Omeka,” edit the item, and try again.

NOTE: If you edit an item in Omeka that you’ve already imported into your Neatline exhibit, its record in the exhibit will be automatically updated.

NOTE #2: You can also create records from scratch using the New Record button and the Text tab (without making an Omeka item first). However, this isn’t recommended if you wish to include images or other media in your record, since that media would require additional HTML formatting.

5. Pin your records to the map. You can access any of your records from the list of records on the editor’s main page (see the screenshot in step 2 of this section, looking under the New Record button). Once you’re in a record, you can place it on the map. If you’ve just created a record using the Item tab from the previous step, then you’re already in that record.

Once in the record, click the Map tab. You can draw many different shapes here (and feel free to experiment!), but for our purposes, we’ll look at two buttons: “Navigate” and “Draw Point.”

When “Navigate” is selected, you can move your map around without adding anything. When “Draw Point” is selected, you can click on the map to place a blue pin. When a viewer clicks this pin, she’ll see the record associated with it. When you’re done, click Save.

For example: I have a record containing text and images about Shakespeare’s first performance of Henry V in London. I can go into my Henry V record and use “Draw Point” to place a pin on London. Now, the viewer can click the blue dot on London to bring up this record.

Optionally, you can use the Style tab in a record (to the right of the Map tab) to change the appearance of points and shapes for that record.

You can add as many interactive points or shapes as you’d like to your map.

6. Add widgets to your record (optional). If you’re using the Waypoints widget, select it by clicking in the Widgets field. See the next step for more information about Waypoints.

When you’re done, click Save. Then, you can exit out of the record and back to the editor’s main page by clicking the X above the Style tab. You can return to Omeka by clicking “Return to Omeka.”

7. Adding Waypoints: a table of contents for your map. The following guide from Neatline.org explains how to add a list of clickable records to your map, so viewers can jump from point to point without searching the map for them:
http://docs.neatline.org/working-with-the-waypoints-plugin.html

Linking your maps to your Omeka home page

1. Choose what links you’d like to display on your home page’s navigation menu. This menu may appear in a slightly different place on your home page depending on your theme. Here’s what it looks like in one of Omeka’s built-in themes (“Thanks, Roy”):

To edit this menu: from your Omeka dashboard, click Appearance in the black bar at the top of the screen. Then click the Navigation tab.

This takes you to a checklist of links. Each checked link will appear on your home page’s menu. To edit a link’s label (name) or URL, click the small black arrow to its right.

To add a new link: fill in the Label and URL fields at the bottom of this page, and then click Add Link. You can reorder the menu by clicking and dragging the links. When you’re done, click the green Save Changes button.

By default, there will be a link called “Neatline” which takes your viewer to a list of your Neatline exhibits. This is called the Browse Exhibits page, and looks like this:

If you’d rather have links on your menu to one or more specific exhibits, first pull up that exhibit’s public or full screen view (see the screenshot for step 2 under Managing Neatline exhibits and using the editor above). Copy the URL from the address bar at the top of your browser. Paste it into the URL field on Appearance > Navigation, give it a label, click Add Link, and then Save Changes.

2. OR, choose a different default home page.

To use a list of your Neatline exhibits as your home page:
On Appearance > Navigation, click on the dropdown menu under “Select a Homepage” (to the right of the link checklist). Select “Neatline” (or whatever you’ve renamed it). Click Save Changes to finish.

To use a specific exhibit as your home page (taking your viewer directly to the map):
On Appearance > Navigation, add a link to the public or fullscreen view of the map you wish to be the homepage (see the previous step). Then, click on the dropdown menu under “Select a Homepage” (to the right of the link checklist). Select the link you’ve just added. Click Save Changes to finish.

Now you can share your Omeka site’s address with whomever you’d like, and they’ll be able to explore your interactive map!

Cloning applications to a new subdomain/subdirectory

The domain name that you choose during sign up will stay with you through all of your current and future build projects. This is why we recommend choosing a general and enduring name, such as a variation of your name. However, while working on your site, you might find that the name you chose doesn’t adequately describe your project anymore. In this instance, it is possible to clone your application to a subdomain or a subdirectory of your site that has a more desirable name.

If you want to clone your site to a subdirectory (so, the URL would change from something like YOURNAME.emerson.build to YOURNAME.emerson.build/project), you can create that directory during the cloning process. To clone to a subdomain (which would change the URL from YOURNAME.emerson.build to project.YOURNAME.emerson.build), the subdomain needs to be set up ahead of time.

Once you’re ready, head to the “My Apps”/”My Applications” area from your cPanel Dashboard.

  1. To the right of the name of the app you want to clone is a row of buttons, the “clone” button looks like a forked arrow. Click it.
    Single application row in the cPanel with Clone button marked
  2. On the “Clone” screen, verify that the correct information appears in the “Source” box. Under “Destination”, choose a previously created domain or enter a subdirectory name in the “Directory” field.
    • You will see the URL and file path for the cloned site listed below these fields.
  3. The other settings can be left as their defaults to automatically create and copy databases and settings.
  4. Click the “Clone” button at the bottom of the form. Depending on the size of your application, this may take some time to complete. A progress bar will keep you updated.
  5. After verifying that the cloned site works as expected, you can delete the original.

Tip: Cloning your application can also be used to test new themes and plugins without affecting your published content.

Managing Backups

Any application that you install in Emerson.build using the cPanel/Installatron is set to automatically create a backup of the whole app every time the software updates. The backups expire after 14 days, but they can quickly eat up quota space in that time, especially since some apps (such as WordPress) update automatically. Follow the steps in each section below to take more control over the space that backups use in your account.

1. Turn off the automatic Installatron backup

  • Go to your cPanel
  • Go to Applications > WordPress > My Applications.
  • From there, select the wrench next to your site’s name.
  • Scroll down to Automatic Update Backup and set that to “Do not create a backup”​​

Application Backups screen with an arrow pointing to "Do not create a backup" under "Automatic Update Backup"

2. View restore points in JetBackup App

The JetBackup app can be found in the “Files” section of your cPanel dashboard.

Files section of the build Dashboard with JetBackup location circled

This app should already be active so there are no additional steps you need to take to set it up. JetBackup automatically creates full backups and individual backups of your site’s files and databases nightly. More information on how to navigate and use the app to restore your site is available in this post on the Reclaim Hosting Community site: “Restoring Backups Using JetBackup” (opens an external site in a new tab).

 

3. Create a manual Installatron backup before major changes

While JetBackup creates daily backups of all of your content, it’s best practice to have a backup of your application from right before you start tinkering, just in case anything goes wrong. That way you won’t lose any content that’s been added or changed since the latest daily backup. As a bonus, backups created through the Installatron are easy to restore with a single click. These manual backups can even be sent to an offsite location like Dropbox to save space.

To create a manual backup:

  • From your cPanel, click “My Apps” in the “Applications” section.
  • Click the checkbox to the far right of the application name (labeled 1 in the screenshot below).
  • Click “Backup” below the bottom of the application list (labeled 2 in the screenshot below).
  • On the next screen, enter a descriptive label and click Backup again. The backup will run with a status bar.​

Installatron "My Applications" screen. The checkbox to the far right of the application's name is labeled "1" and the "Backup" button underneath the app row is labeled "2"

 

4. Delete Installatron backups that are no longer needed

If you’ve created a manual backup or are running out of space due to the automatic backups, you should delete old Installatron backups to free up space.

  • From your cPanel, click “My Apps” in the “Applications” section.
  • Between “My Applications” and “Applications Browser”, you’ll see a “My Backups” tab. Click that to see the list of current backups.
  • Click the “X” to the right of an individual backup or check the box to the right of multiple backups, then Delete at the bottom.
    Installatron's page listing available backups with the "X" to remove one circled
  •  On the next screen, you’ll see a summary of the backup(s) to be deleted. Click “Delete” to confirm.
    The confirmation screen after clicking Delete the first time. The Delete button here is circled.

When You Leave

You retain access to your Emerson.build domain for one year after you graduate or leave Emerson. After one year, you will lose access to your Emerson account and your domain along with it. To retain ownership of your domain, you have several options: pay Reclaim Hosting a small yearly fee to keep everything; download your entire site to store on your computer; or move everything over to another hosting provider.

Using Reclaim Hosting

Emerson.build is hosted through Reclaim Hosting. Through our partnership with them, you’re eligible to have your domain and content automatically migrated to a full hosting account at a 20% discount. Follow the instructions below, and Reclaim Hosting will complete your migration for you. You won’t have to provide any login information since they control the servers on both sides.

To sign up for your own Reclaim Hosting domain:

1. Log-in to Emerson.build.

2. Hover your mouse over Manage Your Account in the top navigation menu, and click on Migration Information in the dropdown menu.

Find the Migration Information button under Manage Your Account at the top dashboard of the cPanel.

3. Click on Get Started in the Migration Offer box.

Clicking "Migration Information" takes you to a Migration Offer from Reclaim Hosting, where you can click "Get Started."

4. You will be given the option to 1) register a new domain, 2) transfer your domain from another registrar, or 3) use your existing domain and update your nameservers.

Reclaim Hosting's options for migrating from Emerson.build.

If your site’s URL ends in Emerson.build, and you have never used a different URL or purchased hosting from somewhere else, the Register a new domain option allows you to get your own personal domain with Reclaim Hosting (outside of Emerson.build). Your site will no longer be located at “yoursite.emerson.build,” and you’ll be able to purchase a new URL.

If you have purchased (or intend to purchase) a URL from a different hosting company, but still want your site to be hosted with Reclaim Hosting, select the I will use my existing domain and update my nameservers option. Your site will be migrated to a personal Reclaim Hosting account, but then you will have to update the information that tells the other hosting company (that you got your URL from) where your site is located. It’s possible to get your hosting and URL from two separate companies, but it’s often easier and cheaper to get them together.

If you already have a site that’s hosted somewhere else, and want to transfer everything to a personal Reclaim Hosting account, select Transfer your domain from another registrar.

Other Hosting Providers

If you don’t want to continue with Reclaim and would rather use a different hosting company, you can download all your site files independently, purchase a URL, and upload the files to your new domain through FTP.

What is a Subdomain?

Everything you place in your public folder on the server becomes available for anyone on the Web to see (assuming they know the address of your site and the files you’ve placed there). If you’re just putting up a handful of static, HTML pages which you want to make available to colleagues, friends, or family by sending them links, then keeping all of your files within this one folder may work fine. As soon as your site starts to get more complicated and targeted towards a broader audience, however, you should consider a new organization strategy.

Consider this scenario: you want to have a personal blog on your new web space, where you share pictures and short written pieces with family, friends, and colleagues. In addition, you’re working on a large research project that requires you to build a web-based repository of digital images related to your discipline. You want to use one application (say, WordPress) to manage your personal blog. For your research project, you’ve settled on another open-source application (say, Omeka). Both of these are applications that need to be installed on your web host, but you can’t just put them both at your main domain name – if you did, both sites would quickly experience conflicts and errors. You need to cordon off separate spaces for your different web “properties.”

A subdomain is one way of organizing and separating content on your site. Consider Google’s website and suite of apps.

Google’s main search engine is located at “google.com“.

To access your Google email account, you’re directed to “mail.google.com“. When you view an email, draft messages, or change your email settings, your web browser is looking for that content within the part of the site indicated by the “mail.google.com” URL.

If you next want to access Google Drive, you’re instead directed to “drive.google.com“. Your documents live within the portion of the site indicated by this different URL.

The difference in the URL corresponds with which application you’re using: mail, drive, or just the main search. You can also see this at work when you use other Google applications, such as “calendar.google.com” and “maps.google.com“. Each of these is a different subdomain of google.com.

As you can see the subdomains serve two purposes: they help to organize the site from a technical perspective and they help users visually identify that they are in a new/different space. As you work on your site, you’re welcome to create as many subdomains as you like, and in each subdomain you can actually create a distinct website. Keep in mind, however, that the domain name you receive when you sign up for Emerson.build is already itself a subdomain of emerson.build. This means that when you create a new subdomain of this domain, it will be of the form: subdomain.yourdomain.emerson.build.

Subdomains are not the only way to organize your domain space, however. You can read more about another organization strategy in the “Subdomains vs. Subdirectories” portion of this documentation. When you’re ready, we also have additional information on how to set up subdomains.

What is DNS?

Remember back before everyone had computers that fit in their pocket, how companies would ship a book full of phone numbers to your doorstep? We might have known who we were looking for, but we needed to look up phone numbers unless they were your crazy relatives that you learned to memorize. When you get your own domain name, by default it’s nothing more than a shortcut, an address, or (to fit this very imperfect analogy) a phone number. When you type a domain name into the address bar of your browser, someone has to identify it and tell it what to display. That’s where a name server comes in.

A name server is a computer, running as a server, that keeps a record of all the domain names that are associated with it and keeps track of where those domains should go. In the case of Emerson.build, the name server is the same computer that runs the hosting. You can peek behind the hood and see this in action by going to the 'Domains' panel of your cPanel account and clicking on 'Zone Editor', then 'Manage' next to your domain in the table.

DNS stands for Domain Name System and the name server on Emerson.build gives control to it to identify what should be displayed when someone types in your domain. Consider the fact that you might have one or more subdomains in your account. The name server and DNS are able to identify those subdomains and let the world wide web know that they exist and point to some files/folders on a computer somewhere.

When you signed up for a domain through the Emerson.build system your name servers were chosen for you. So when people type in your address, the server responds with information about your account. When you migrate an account away from one hosting platform (like Emerson.build) and onto a new service, it will require you to change the name servers so that your domain name points to a new server with its own files and structure. It’s also possible to have subdomains that point to entirely different servers than Emerson.build. For example, you could have a subdomain that looks to Tumblr for files.

Social Media

As you begin to build out your digital presence you’ll probably start to think about social media in some form. In fact it’s likely that you already have at least one, if not more, social media accounts (Facebook being the most popular to date). Everyone uses social media in different ways, and although it’s often interesting to see people break the boundaries of the “social norms” of a specific online community, this article will focus more on the accepted use cases for specific social networks and how they can help you build your digital presence. This is by no means a comprehensive “How To” of Twitter or Facebook, but a good starting guide to think about where you best fit in to these online communities.

Facebook

The majority of folks that will read this likely have a Facebook account. With over 1 billion active users it’s by far one of the more popular social networks. Many treat Facebook as a semi-personal space, one reserved for family and friends to share photos and highlights of what’s happening in their lives. Facebook also supports “Groups” for sharing amongst a smaller set of individuals regularly, and “Pages” which are less personal and more public-facing profiles meant for organizations and businesses. There are plenty of applications that make it easy to publish a link to the work you do on your blog and your participation in other networks back into your Facebook profile. In general it’s a good practice and can often lead to interesting conversations with different groups of folks. This practice of publishing elsewhere and then feeding into Facebook is desired over the alternative, using Facebook for all content and then pushing it out to other communities. The main reason for this is that privacy concerns over how different people can view content on Facebook have changed often enough to leave users concerned. There’s also never any certainty of sustainability with any of these social networks (remember MySpace or Friendster?) no matter how popular, so publishing in your own space and then pushing out to others makes a lot of sense. The key takeaway is that Facebook is a great personal network and can also be the starting point for some of these larger professional discussions should you decide to use it that way.

Twitter

While no longer the new kid on the block, Twitter has only relatively recently started to gain momentum. It doesn’t have nearly the same user base as Facebook (though there are about 500 million accounts to date) and the way people use it is very different. Twitter has focused on the short status message from the start, before Facebook even integrated the idea into their platform. Users are limited to 140 characters. It’s a conversational platform for interacting with people. It’s used heavily at conferences and many choose this as a social network for really networking with peers and others in their community as well as people they might not ever meet in real life. You can follow as many people as you want and it’s a great way of having a stream of information about “what’s happening” with people and groups you’re interested in. One powerful development of Twitter is that celebrities have begun to embrace it as a way to speak directly to their fans without having the message interpreted through other media and journalism with a slant. The ability to search various topics or hashtags (keywords) and see a running stream of what people are saying about that topic is also a very powerful way of gauging reaction to ideas and events. It’s a great idea to experiment with a Twitter account by signing up, adding a profile picture and information about yourself, following a group of people, and interacting with it daily. While the gratification may not be immediate, it’s one of those social networks where the more you put into it the more you will get out of it.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the professional resumé of social networks. It mixes the ability to keep an updated resume of where you work and what your accomplishments are with a social aspect of having people recommend you and comment on your work. Most users find LinkedIn helpful not as a day-to-day network they use, but rather when they’re searching for a new job and want to find people they know that might have connections. The old saying “It’s who you know” when finding a job or making a connection is particularly relevant here where those connections can be exposed to you (You know this person who works for the company of one of Bill Gate’s sons, and the VP went to high school with you).

Summary

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, talking about social media is an ever-changing and moving target and this article can never be truly comprehensive. The goal of emerson.build is to have you thinking more critically about where you put your content, not that you don’t participate in these networks which still have a lot of value, but rather that you own the work you create. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others all have different audiences and the more places you push your content to, the more opportunities for discussion and feedback you’ll receive. The ability to network with an increased amount of people that isn’t reliant on face-to-face meetings is a powerful change in how we interact on the web and the value of it. As you begin to explore social media the best recommendation would be to choose a space you want to explore and really dive in. Follow as many people as possible, talk to them, respond to their work, and you’re more likely to get responses in return that start to build that sense of community for you.

Subdomains vs. Subdirectories

There are two primary strategies for parceling up your web space. You can create subdomains or subdirectories. Before you can understand the difference, you need to first understand what we mean when we talk about your root domain.

Root Domain

Let’s say you’ve registered a new custom domain name called yourdomain.com. Anything that is stored at this core URL is considered to be at the root of your domain. Nothing comes before or after the address. If you only want to have a single site on your web host (say a blog running WordPress), then you can set that blog up at your domain’s root. To get to your blog in this scenario, users would simply go to yourdomain.com.

Subdomains

As we discuss in the “What is a Subdomain?” portion of this documentation, subdomains are one option for organizing your Emerson.build space if you want to do something more complex than having a single site at your domain’s root. Subdomains serve two purposes: they help to organize the site from a technical perspective and they help users identify at a glance that they are in a new/different space.

As you work on your site, you’re welcome to create as many subdomains as you like and in each subdomain you can actually create a distinct website.

Subdirectories

The alternative for organizing your space is to set up subdirectories. These function much like file folders on your computer. Instead of creating a blog at blog.yourdomain.com you could place it in a subdirectory called “blog” making the address yourdomain.com/blog.

Setting up a subdirectory is really easy. You can create folders on the fly when installing applications (like WordPress) and you can also manually create them in your File Manager.

There is one particular issue you need to be aware of when using subdirectories. Let’s say you’ve installed WordPress to be your primary blog at yourdomain.com and you’ve created a page in this WordPress blog with the URL yourdomain.com/gallery to put pictures on. Later, you decide you want to create an image gallery site using a new application. You want to place it in a subdirectory “gallery” so that viewers can access it at yourdomain.com/gallery. However, this URL is already taken by the WordPress gallery page. If you try to create a subdirectory of the same name, you’ll get a conflict and errors. Either the existing page or the new application will need a new URL. If you choose to rename the existing page, that will break any links or bookmarks that users may have saved.

Tips & Review

  • Subdomains must be created first before you can install anything in them. However, you’re less likely to get conflicts or errors.
    • For Emerson.build sites, your default domain name is already itself a subdomain of emerson.build. This means that when you create a new subdomain of this domain, it will be of the form: subdomain.yourdomain.emerson.build.
  • Subdirectories are easier to set up and can be created during the application installation process. They can, however, result in conflicts with existing pages of your site.
  • As soon as you create subdomains or subdirectories to organize your site, you need to consider how people are going to find them. If you’ve created a new primary blog at blog.yourdomain.com, and someone goes to just yourdomain.com, they won’t see that new site. It is possible to set up redirects to avoid this issue. You can also always create links from pages on one subdomain of your site to another.
  • If you really just need one site, sometimes installing at the root of your domain is the easiest thing to do, at least as you’re getting started. You can always add more pieces to your territory later with either subdomains or subdirectories.

What are the technical requirements/limitations of Emerson.build?

Emerson.build uses a kind of Web server knowns as a LAMP server. “LAMP” is an acronym for the technology stack that is installed on the server:

  • Linux: This is the open-source operating system that is used on the server.
  • Apache: This is the Web server software that the server uses.
  • MySQL: This is the database software that the server uses.
  • Php/Perl/Python: These are the three programming languages that the server can interpret.

Generally, if you are using applications available to install by default through the Emerson.build server, you shouldn’t need to worry about these technical details. All of the software that is available for installation (in cPanel) meets the technical requirements.

If you’re interested in finding/installing another application (that isn’t available through our automatic installer tool), then you’ll have to be sure that the server can support it. To start with, you’ll want to be sure that the Web application can run on a LAMP server. Check the technical requirements for the application to determine this. You’ll also need to do some research about whether there are any additional services or modules required on the server. Some software may require components that aren’t included in the default installation of the LAMP stack. In that case, contact us with details about what you need, and we’ll see what we can do.

Setting Up Subdomains

A subdomain is one way of organizing and separating content on your site. To create a subdomain, use the following steps:

Login to Emerson.build with your Emerson username and password to access your cPanel. Once logged in, you’ll be at the homepage of your control panel. The easiest way to navigate the panel is using the Search box in the top right panel. Click the Search box and type “subdomains” (without the quotes). Then, scroll down and click the Subdomains button on the cPanel.

Search for Subdomains using the Search box.

Choose a name for your subdomain and type it into the Subdomain box. Just like top-level domains (e.g. createoutestdomain.com), subdomains can only contain numbers, letters, and hyphens, and the best subdomains are simple, short, and descriptive. Once you’ve typed in a name, cPanel will automatically populate the Document root field for you. This will create a folder to contain your subdomain’s files. You’ll usually want this folder to match the name of your subdomain, so it’s easy to identify where different files live in your account. You might want to change the document root if you already have a folder in your account that has the same name as the subdomain you are trying to create, although this should be rare.

cPanel automatically generates the Document Root after you enter the Subdomain's name.

Once you’re done, click Create. If everything went well, you should see a message that your subdomain was created successfully. Your subdomain will now be available as an option for automatic installation of various software (WordPress, MediaWiki, etc). If you prefer to install web applications manually, you can do so in the document root (folder) you created in step 5.