An Essential Reference for Webmasters

Webmaster in a NutShell by Stephan Spainhour & Robert Eckstein answers all those geeky questions like server configuration settings, all the valid attributes of an HTML tag, configuring Apache for server side includes and so on. Even if you aren’t planning to actually deal with these arcane issues, it can be handy to know what exactly all of those 505 hits really mean in your web stat report. Or to be able to ask pertinent questions of the hosting services your considering to make certain they know what they’re doing.

This is not a “how-to” book for beginners. It doesn’t tell you how to use the <td> tag, but what are all of the valid attributes. It doesn’t tell you how to apply css styles, but it will tell you that font-variant style your web designer wants to use, isn’t supported by non-Internet Explorer 4+ browsers. It can help have an intelleigent conversation on improving server performance — or at least scaring your techs enough to keep them from feeding you too much BS.

Webmaster in a NutShell is organized in 8 parts:


Covering an overview, HTML reference, instructions on using frames, tables and forms, a listing of all of the character entities (the correct code for things like the copyright symbol © or the ampersand &) and all about color names and values on the web.


An introduction to cascading style sheets, style syntax, properties and a CSS quick reference.


A basic introduction to the next standard for passing business data, XML terminology, a reference, definitions of document types, using an XML Extensible Stylesheet Language, and more.


Everything from a Javascript reference to the details of syntax, Javascript in HTML, forms and the rest of the language use and formating.

CGI and Perl

There’s an excellent overview of how CGI works, details on using server side includes including the pros and cons, the intracacies of the Perl Module and web server programming with mod_perl (common on Apache servers to improve performance).


A comprehensive reference and overview of using PHP. PHP is a popular, low cost solution to creating dynamic web pages particularly when using a low-level SQL database to handle information and transactions.


An excellent look at what is actually happening and what the web server reports are actually reporting for client requests, server responses, status codes, HTTP headers, cookies and media types.

(Apache) Server Configuration

If you are running an Apache web server in-house or using one at your remote hosting service, this sectin can be handy when you need know what exactly is and isn’t supported on your system.

Server Performance

This chapter provides a thorough grounding in what can be done to improve your web response from the server end. Before your site’s code is tight, the images limited and optimized, and you’ve ensured the best Internet pipe accces possible, you need to make certain your server is running lean and mean.

If you are having someone else host and maintain your site, this book is unnecessary, but if you are handling the maintenance in-house or are having meetings about dynamic options and e-commerce on Apache servers, you would do well to add Webmaster in a NutShell by Stephan Spainhour & Robert Eckstein to your essential web reference shelf.