If you – or somebody from your family – uses iWeb and dot-mac … well, dot-me, you’d usually would not encounter problems when uploading and publishing your site.

Also, if you upload your site to your paid host, the chances are that you do not run into a problem.

But, if you run your own server and possibly have modified the server configuration file – as we did with our Apache server, you might run into a big question mark when you upload the iWeb site and the only thing in return you get is a blank page staring at you.

As I own iWeb but don’t use it, this had never bothered me. Having family members which use our server and now are standing in queue to upload and publish, made it an emergency.

It did not take long to realize that the first line in the HTML files caused the problem. It is well known that IE6 will go into quirks mode if that XML tag precedes the DOCTYPE tag. And removing that tag made the pages render just fine. So far so good. Now I just have to have iWeb not add that tag in the first place and all would be good.

But after spending several hours with Goggle and tracking down how to modify the template files and trying to find which file needed to be adjusted to avoid this tag, I realized that I was trying to saddle the horse the wrong way around and avoiding the tag did not solve the situation but that the exact problem needed to be addressed.

If you’ve ever dabbled in some code, Javascript or PHP, you might have learned that if a web page renders white it means that some code could not execute. Thus it was quite clear, that obviously the server was trying to run some code and could not run it. It did take though a while until the coin dropped that the <? in the beginning is not only the opening tag for the XML call but also for PHP. With other words, our server interpreted this as PHP and tried running that language and got of course nowhere.

Usually a server is configured to read specific file types as PHP, such as .php or .phtml. I’m quite sure that at some point in the past when I did not realize this future ramification and with too little knowledge about code myself while learning PHP – probably introducing PHP code into some HTML files without ever changing the file type – I had told my husband to change the server config file to accept also HTML files as PHP, i.e. that PHP gets run on HTML files with the PHP tag. Dumb? Sure.

Lucky enough this problem was quick and easily solved. After removing the HTML as allowed PHP file type in the Apache config file, all was well and the iWeb sites now render without a problem.

If by any chance you are encountering the same problem but with a paid host, contact support and ask if they could change the server config file to not accept .html files as possible PHP container.

On another note: if you want to make life easy for people using iWeb on a non-dot-me server, there are two applications which make uploading newer files a breeze:

Both are donationware (if you do use it, remember to donate!!), and both work well with Easy iWeb Publisher offering more features, such as a progress bar and a log which allows you to track which files have been uploaded and which not. Both applications are smart enough to only upload newly modified files to the server.