I am currently work for a medium sized web design studio with a large and varied client list. As the company is expanding and taking on several new staff members, I have been given the task of developing an employee operational manual. As the company considers itself a ‘full stack’ design and development studio, the manual should explain all major aspects of the studio’s operations.
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Identify the purpose and types of DNS, including explanations on how domain names are organised and managed.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a directory of names that matches with numbers, the numbers are the IP addresses which computers use to communicate with each other. The DNS is a protocol which uses the TCP/IP protocol set. It helps convert URLs into IP addresses that computers use to identify each other on a network, it is a system that matches names with numbers like a phonebook does. With a DNS you do not need to have the IP address of everyone, you connect to a Domain name server, which holds a large database of domain names and translates them to IP addresses 1. So, when you type in a website like www.bbc.co.uk for example, your internet service provider will request the DNS linked with the domain name and then translates it into an IP address that a computer understands then will direct you to the correct website. If you have previously visited the website, the computer will first check the cache to see if it has already visited the website before, if not it will do a DNS query to find the website.
Main DNS server types
A resolver is the first stop in a DNS query, this acts as the middle link between the client and a DNS nameserver, once a DNS query has been sent from the client a recursive resolver will bring back cached data if it is found in the cache, or it will send a request to a root nameserver, then another request to a TLD (Top Level Domain) nameserver and then a last request to an authoritative nameserver. If the recursive resolver does not have the website that is requested in its cache, then it will go through the process of getting the IP address of the website wanted and return it. It will then store this IP address in its memory for a period time. The period of time that it is stored in the memory is chosen by the owner of the domain by using a setting called time to live2, in which how long the website stays in the cache’s memory for.
The iterative DNS query will query a DNS server for information on a website, the user will enter a website they are trying to find and then the resolver may provide an answer from the cached memory or will ask another DNS server if they have the answer by returning the address of that DNS server, if it cannot return a definitive answer it will ask the next server. The query will start at the root server and then go down the levels according to its referrals that it receives.
The root name server for the DNS records is a server that has a big role in the translating of a domain name into an IP address for a computer, they answer requests made in the root zone of the DNS. The servers can answer queries records which are cached in the root zone. They can also divert other requests made onto the TLD server.
TLD (Top Level Domain) nameserver
The TLD nameserver is referring to the last part of a domain name, the part after the dot. TLDs made up into two categories, a country TLD and industries TLD. For example .FR for France and .GOV for governments websites. The TLD is the highest level of domain names in the root zone of the DNS for the internet. For the other domains in lower levels, it is the last section of the domain name 1. The managing of the TLD nameservers is take care of by the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) which is a part of the organisation ICANN.
An authoritative nameserver provides answers to an original DNS query. It does not provide answers of websites from the cached memory 3. The Authoritative nameserver provides answers to the recursive DNS nameservers with IP mapping of the website (or other server) searched for. The authoritative name server holds the records for domain names, these can be either A, CNAME, MX, NS, SOA or TXT records. An example could be if a DNS server in a network has stored a record for a website for example www.example.co.uk, then it would be that this DNS server is the authoritative server for the example.co.uk domain.
A URL is the address of the website that you type into the address bar in a browser. A URL is unique and cannot be shared between different websites, it is just like a fingerprint with a person each person’s fingerprint is unique to them and there is no other the same. A URL is organised by the structure of different parts, this example shows the different parts of a URL and how they are organised – https://moodle.nptcgroup.ac.uk. The HTTPS is the protocol that is used to send data over the browser and the website you want to connect to. The host is “moodle” which is the name of the web servers where it can be accessed. Then the .ac is the second level domain, this is showing that it is an academic second level domain and is used by universities and colleges in the UK. Then the .uk is the top level domain, this is the highest level of domain and shows that it is in the country of the UK by its top level domain. This is the end of the URL and is normally either a company (.com), country (.fr) or a government (.gov)
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Domain name management includes keeping the DNS up to date, the management aspect of it is controlled using a portal by a third-party company. Using this portal, the personal or business website can control DNS records which allow access the website, your blog, email and other online assets. Lots of companies online offer services that will control your domain names for you, these will keep your domain name from expiring by offering an auto renewal service in with their service. Once your domain name is up and running you can then use the portal to manage your domain and all aspects of it easily from one place, you can there change the DNS records quickly and easily for different domains.
The capabilities and relationships between front-end and back-end website technologies and how these relate to presentation and application layers.
The database in a website is very important as it stores data and is needed in the development of websites. A commonly used database is MySQL 8 it is used by many of the big companies and brands in the world such as Google, Facebook and PayPal. MySQL works by creating a database for storing and manipulating data, then clients can make request by typing in specific SQL statements on MySQL and then the server’s application will respond with the requested information and appear on the client’s side browser.
The back-end development of a website will have the language, database, security and backup side of it covered. The database of a website will be used in a query when someone is for example searching for hotel within a certain town, the database is responsible for accepting the query made by someone then it will find the data requested in the database and then return it to the user that has searched for it on a website.
The security side of the back-end development is critical in keeping data and sensate information safe. It is important that users are logging in using the HTTPS protocol whilst doing any development as this will encrypt the information and cannot be intercepted by hackers. It is also important that the HTTPS is used on any websites that use credit card information as this will ensure that the information is not intercepted by hackers and will give the user confidence to use websites that use this protocol, for example if they are shopping 84% of users 7 would abandon their purchase if they cannot see that the HTTPS protocol is not being used by the website. Google will rank sites higher in their search results if a site uses the HTTPS protocol, so it is better to use it in terms of getting your website higher up in the search results.
In the application layer the FTP protocol is used in this layer to transfer files between the server and the client over a network, this is used when upload files to a web server to host a website for example. The application layer is what provides the interface of the applications and network, it is the only layer that deals with the user that is using the computer. This is also where the DNS protocol is used as well, there are many other protocols that are used in the application layer and they include the SMTP, Telnet and TFTP. Applications that are run on a computer are using this layer as this hosts the applications that run on computers, when accessing the internet they are used there. The mail protocol is on the application layer and uses the SMTP protocol to send emails on the internet, then to receive emails the protocol used is the POP3 protocol. The Telnet protocol is also on the application layer, and this protocol is used to access a device remotely.
Explain the purpose and relationships between communication protocols, server hardware, operating systems and web server software with regards to designing, publishing and accessing a website
There are protocols which are used in both the front and back end website technology. These protocols are found in the application layer of the OSI 7-layer model.
HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) – this protocol determines how resources are transferred across the internet. HTTP is used to deliver data on the internet, it provides a regulated method for computers to be able to communicate with one another. HTTP is an application protocol which runs on top level of the TCP/IP. The HTTP protocol uses port 80.
HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) – is a secure protocol that encrypts the data that is being sent over the website that it is on. It encrypts the data by exchanging keys with the customer and the website, this encrypts the data so that then if it is intercepted and stolen it cannot be decrypted unless they have the keys from the owner and customer.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) – is mainly a standard protocol of Network which is used to transfer data from client to host or one server to another server, it uses a client-server architecture. When creating a website, you will use the FTP protocol to upload your created and completed web pages to the web server, this is normally done through the FTP protocol using a program such as FileZilla. The port numbers used by this are 20 for data and 21 for control.
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) – The mail protocol uses the SMTP protocol to send emails on the internet, it only sends the mail from one user to another. To receive the emails, then the POP3 protocol is used to collect the mail from the receiver. This protocol works with the Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) protocol to send your communication to the correct computer and email inbox. The port number used by SMTP is 25.
Apache is the most commonly used web server software on the market 6. Apache is an open source software and is maintained by a community of developers whilst being backed by the Apache Software Foundation. Apache is a good software to use on a web server as it is free to use and download and is most often used on Linux servers. Microsoft have their own web server software called IIS (Internet Information Services) it is not free like Apache and requires a license and will only runs on its windows operating systems. The Microsoft software comes with a tidy but takes some time getting used to GUI, it comes with a panel to manage the connected servers, but everything is one place to is very easy to manage.
It also comes with good security features such as the TLS certificate management and binding for enabling HTTPS and SFTP on to your websites. It also has software patches which are regularly rolled out to keep up with the latest security threats in the world. The security features in Microsoft’s software help to keep websites on the servers up and running and keep down time to a very low level, this will help company’s keep their financial losses down if their website does get attacked.
Most companies will use severs to host their websites on, it is not essential but is recommended as servers are needed to run all day every day of the year. A server needs to be reliable more reliable than workstations in a business as they are always on. The main job of a web server is to deliver the content of a hosted websites on the internet to the client. All computers that host websites must have web server programs, the most widely used web server program is Apache. Any computer as long as it is connected to the internet can be used as a web server as long as it has the appropriate software installed. Web servers typically host many websites, some only host a few. Servers that host multiple websites are called shared host while servers that host a website for a single company or person is call a dedicated host, these dedicated host are appropriate for websites with a high volume of traffic and sites that require custom server modifications.
Discuss the differences between online website creation tools and custom-built sites with regards to design flexibility Performance, functionality, User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI).
Using a template for creating a website is an easier way of creating your own website than building from scratch, there are many different sites that will have many different templates that will help in giving a starting point to making a website. The custom-built websites offer themes as well as templates to give you more range of choice when creating your website, this will help you in creating the website. Using this method will help you to create a website easily and faster than building from scratch, but there are drawbacks in using this method. One drawback is that lots of companies may use this method and if there are many companies in the same sector of business doing this, you do run the risk of other websites looking very similar. But then on the other hand it is a much quicker and easier way than building from scratch as everything is there on the creation tools for you to use.
When a website is created using an online service the user experience may be not be as good as a custom-built site as you will be restricted in the way you can lay out your website on their tools. You may want to change the flow of your website using the tools but may be limited in what you are doing by the service itself, for example if you wanted a user using your website to get from one page to another in your way, but then find out you are unable to achieve this using the method of the online creation tools, then this will have a negative impact on the users experience in using the website. But when a site is custom built to order the user is able to put the website in the way that they want it to work and then the user experience is as they expected and what works best.
Using a custom built website is more efficient in its performance of the website as it will only have the code that is needed to run the website and nothing extra like the online creation services do, the online creation tools will have lots of extra code added into it to help the user achieve its website whilst making it very easy to use. Doing it in this way will add more code than necessary and will affect the performance of the website. The flexibility in custom built website is much better than the online services as you can add anything and move anything you want in a custom built one, the online creation services limit users in their flexibility of websites and this can be very frustrating.
A custom-built website will always be available on all devices such as computers, phones and tablets and working correctly, showing the site on different devices is very important these days as lots of people use their tablet and phones to look at websites on the go. Have a custom-built website will ensure that the site is optimised for use on both of these devices, this will ensure that the user interface is as it should be when the developers made the website. When using an online creation service this may not always be part of the normal service and may require extra costs to be able to view in mobile format. They will also normally be higher up in the search results in google as the site is optimised to be higher up in the search, by using the key words and structuring the website correctly it will help.
Using an online service will benefit a user in that once their website is up and running, they do not have to worry about the security side of things, as this will be looked after by the service you have chosen. Also, the data storage and maintenance are taken care of by the company, so the user can then concentrate on other things. This is an issue which needs takin care of when using a custom-built website, as there will be additional costs for the data storage with the need of hard drives to store the data on. Support is also a key component of a website too, the ongoing support from a custom-built site is always there from the company that you have used. But using an online service the support will not be as good as the custom-built providers and they can provide more personal support better than an online service can.
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