I’ve collected these resources for a small talk I did for a Underrepresented and Nontraditional meetup!
Many people can find the “first step” to creating a webpage the most difficult. You buy a fancy name, but it seems like the back falls out – how do you associate that name with a site?
What’s a URL anyway? // DNS Look-up
Websites are stored on computers all over the world. To see a website, you need to type in its address. Unfortunately, these addresses are pretty ugly – IP addresses are just numbers. For example, my website’s address is 188.8.131.52. Try it out! Enter that number into the browser – you’ll end up at my site.
That number would be pretty hard to remember, though. So I bought a name to put on top of it – jammiemountz.com. When you enter that into the browser, the browser asks the Domain Name System (or DNS) what the IP address is for the domain you typed in. The DNS gives the browser back the IP address.
How do I get a URL? // Buying a Domain Name
This is the fun part! For a couple dollars, you can grab a name for your site on a sit that sells domain names. One of my favorites is hover.com. Some names are unavailable, and some are more expensive than others – because these names need to be unique!
How do I attach a URL to a server that hosts my site? // Nameservers and A Records
Nameservers are web servers that have DNS software installed on it. It allows companies that sell server space to provide a smaller version of DNS-lookup for their IP addresses.
You’ll want to go in and edit the records that are associated with the domain name. This can be done on the site you bought the domain name at.
A records – the basics. They map to an IPv4 IP address and that’s probably the one you have.
AAAA records – maps to an IPv6 IP address. Like an IPv4, but longer. Probably not what you have.
Theres a few types of A records
- www – defines your webserver
- * – is a wild card
- @ – points to the URL base
You’ll want to map all of these to your IP address. This is what helps resolve jammiemountz.com just as if you typed in www.jammiemountz.com.
If you had a separate application on a separate server that you want to use the same domain name for, you can make many A records. An A record as “test” will direct test.jammiemountz.com to an IP address that you specify. In this way, you can buy one domain name and use it to point to many different sites.
CNAME – Canonical Name
You can associate another domain name with the current records of the primary domain name. For example, I wanted jmountz.com to also route to my site, I would buy that domain name and put it as the CNAME for jammiemountz.com.
MX – mail records. Helps route emails that look like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why didn’t it work? // Propogation
Updating DNS records can take possibly 30 minutes to propogate though. This means it might take a minute to see your changes. Also, remember to refresh your browser’s cache so it doesn’t “remember” the old address instead of looking up the new one!