How To Manage a Website Part 3: Programming Languages (Webware)
As Web servers answer requests for information and ‘serve’ this information in a usable manner, it takes another component to actually decipher what it is the programmer had intended to happen when it is requested. For example, how does a Website pull the correct title and text to a particular blog article and know how and where to place it on the page or know what to do with the information collected in a web form? Functions like these are programmed in by the developer who wrote the scripts that run the Website and they do so by writing code in a preferred language. PHP, Ruby, Perl, VB, ColdFusion are all examples of languages that can be used to program a Website and there are many more. For each language that is used within a Website, the server must know how to run that language – decipher commands written in that language.
Like the last two items I have discussed; operating systems and servers the installation of any needed Webware is typically installed and maintained by the Host. When you choose a host provider and hosting plan you will make sure that all appropriate languages are installed on your host server and ready to read and process your code. Working with a host company makes this aspect of managing a Website very easy. However if you are running your own server or have opted for a dedicated or semi-dedicated (VPS) hosting environment you may have to maintain the Webware yourself.
Maintaining such functions on the server are fairly easy beyond setup. The default installation is typically not production ready and you will want to look into security best practices as well as customize as needed for your particular application. Security is of course incredibly important and if it is not being taken care of for you by your host you need to make sure you keep up to date with all security patches. In addition you will want to make sure you update major versions when needed and as older version become depreciated (no longer supported or patched). Upgrading your language platforms does come with risks because your software was written on an older version, it may not be fully compatible with a newer version. A test environment should be setup before upgrading any production environment.