Host your personal website on Google’s Servers for Free

I come across at a couple of personal websites on a daily basis while browsing through the internet. Most of the advanced internet users have one. Why? Personal websites are an easy medium to showcase skills and connect with one’s clients on a personal level.


You may attract a lot of clients from freelancing websites around the world, but letting your clients know about your personal website which showcases you in a great way is much better. Most of the clients are bound to come back to you if the quality of work was good.

If you have just started out on the internet and do not have a budget to buy domain and hosting for your personal website, I’d recommend that you follow the guide below. Today we will learn ‘How to Host Your Personal Website on Google’s Servers for Free’. Yes, you read it right – it’s for free.

Note: You can only host a basic website (built on HTML & CSS), advanced websites using PHP, ASPX etc. are not supported.

We will use Google App Engine’s ‘Static Files’ feature to host your static HTML-CSS website on Google’s App Engine server for free.

A step by step guide on how to create your personal website with Google

Step 1: Create a Personal Website

If you are a coder and have the skills, go ahead and code a great website for yourself in HTML/CSS. If not, use Google to search from tons of free to use themes available for download. Download the one which suits your needs, make sure they are only using HTML/CSS platform. Edit the website to customize it per your needs, use text editor Notepad ++ for editing files. Save all the files in one location for future use.

Step 2: Download Python and GAE (Google App Engine) SDK

Download and install these with default settings unless you are an advanced user and know what you are doing.

Step 3: Sign Up / Sign In for Google App Engine
Visit appengine.google.com to Sign In / Sign Up to the Google App Engine site.

Step 4: Create App
You will be required to create an application to get started with hosting static files on Google’s Servers for Free. Click on ‘Create Application’ button to start creating the application. Give a unique name to the application which will also act as your sub-domain. For example: To create a website with link wjunction.appspot.com, you need to enter ‘wjunction’ as the application name. Once created, this cannot be changed so choose carefully. Give a title to your application which users can see when viewing your application and leave all other fields default. Click on ‘Create Application’ to complete app creation.

Step 5: Develop the app using GAE Python SDK

  1. Open the Google App Engine Launcher app on your machine.
  2. Create new application by using Ctrl + N keyboard shortcut.
  3. You will see an app creation screen asking for app details like Application Name, Parent Directory, Port and Admin Port. Enter the application identified in the Application Name. Also, choose a directory to locally host your app on a temporary basis. Leave the port details default.
  4. Click on Create button.

The app is now created but needs to be edited so it can be hosted on GAE Servers. To do this, choose your app in GAE Launcher and click Edit. Your application’s “app.yaml” file will now open in your default text editor application.

Delete all the content of this file with the below code:

Code:
application: <your-app-name-here> 
version: 1 
runtime: python27 
api_version: 1 
threadsafe: yes 
handlers: 
– url: / 
static_files: www/index.html 
upload: www/index.html 
– url: / 
static_dir: www 
libraries: 
– name: webapp2 
version: "2.5.2"

Save the file and close it to move on to the next step.

Now to add personal website’s files to your local GAE application:
Open the parent directory you selected while creating this local app and then browse to the app
directory. You’ll see two files named favicon.ico and main.py – delete these files. Now create a directory (folder) and name it www and paste your website files inside it.

If everything was done correctly, your app directory will have app.yaml and index.yaml files inside it along with a www folder containing your website’s files / directories / sub-directories.

Step 6: Deploy / Upload Your Custom App to GAE Servers

  1. Choose your GAE App in the GAE Launcher.
  2. Click on Deploy.
  3. Enter the Google Account Details and press OK.
  4. You’ll see a Python progress window showing the progress of the upload.

You can now check your personal website by entering the application name.appspot.com URL in your web browser.

Share your GAE website link via comments or post questions.

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