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Tutorial: Create a Custom URL

This tutorial will show you how to create a custom web address (URL) for your schedule. Your users can then access your schedule with a link such as www.your-company-schedule.com. This helps to reassure them the schedule belongs to you and they do not need to be aware that the software is not running on your own server.

Warning: Incorrectly modifying DNS entries can potentially make your site, as well as your email, unreachable. Many of the steps detailed in this tutorial are outside the control of SuperSaaS; we provide these instructions as a service only and cannot help you troubleshoot technical issues that may arise. Some technical proficiency is required.

Step 1: Point a (sub-) domain at SuperSaaS

GoDaddy screenshot DirectAdmin screenshot

With those warnings out of the way, adding a sub domain to point to SuperSaaS is not very hard. The main complicating factor is that every provider uses different software so it’s hard to give step-by-step instructions. To start, you need to find something typically named “DNS control panel” or “Zone file editor” among the administrative tools of the host where your domain is registered. To the right are two examples of what your DNS control page might look like.

Because of the risks involved, some Internet Service Providers do not allow you to modify your DNS yourself. If that is the case, or if you just do not feel comfortable modifying your DNS, your best option is probably to buy a separate domain for this purpose. A cheap domain can be had for as little as a few dollars per year, for example from GoDaddy. SuperSaaS does not sell domain names.

In your DNS control panel you need to add a so-called ‘CNAME' record to your DNS. Entering a CNAME involves entering an alias and a destination address that it should point to. The alias is the part that will be the sub domain of your site, ‘schedule' or ‘booking' would be a good choice. Suppose you have the domain ‘yourcompany.com’ then the complete host name could be ‘schedule.yourcompany.com’. The alias would be ‘schedule', you typically don’t have to enter the yourcompany.com part. The destination or host address that is points to should be ‘www.supersaas.com.', note the extra dot at the end, some DNS utilities require that it be present, others, like GoDaddy specifically don’t want it. It’s easiest to check whether or not the other CNAME entries have a trailing dot. Do not put in the entire URL to your schedule, so just enter www.supersaas.com and not the ‘/schedule/…' part (the system will be able to figure out the rest of the URL once it has been linked to your account). Be careful not to modify any of the other settings in your DNS control panel unless you know what you are doing. For more help you may want to look at specific instructions to create CNAME records for several popular domain providers from Google.

Sometimes there is also an option available among the settings to “redirect” a (sub-) domain. This probably not something you want to use because redirecting changes your domain name in the browser bar to supersaas.com as soon as a visitor hits the link. The software won’t be able to link your calendar to your domain if you use a redirect.

DNS changes can propagate slowly. After you enter the CNAME record you may need to wait several hours, more than 24 hours sometimes, before the change takes effect. When a few hours have passed you can try out your new domain by typing it into a browser. If all went well you will be shown the SuperSaaS homepage. If you already entered your custom domain on your account (as explained in the next step) you would see a screen explaining that your domain still has to be linked to your account. Only after this works correctly should you continue with the next step. You can also check that the domain is properly set up by going to a command line window on your computer and typing ping schedule.yourcompany.com followed by ping www.supersaas.com. If all went well the output displayed should be the same. If the first ping does return an IP address but it is not the same as the one from SuperSaaS then you probably set up a redirect instead of a CNAME.

Step 2: Link your domain to your account

You can now already access your own schedule by replacing the ‘www.supersaas.com' part with your custom domain. Next you can link the domain to your account. By linking the domain to your account you gain two additional benefits. Firstly, the custom domain will be used in all outgoing email messages that mention a URL, such as reminders. Secondly, if a visitor points his browser at the bare domain name, without the ‘/schedule/…' part, the system will redirect him to your schedule instead of to the SuperSaaS homepage. This presumes at least one schedule is defined in your account or the system will have no place to redirect to.

To link your domain take these steps: Log in to your account and go to the “Advanced Settings” page that can be found by going to your Dashboard page, then to ‘Layout Settings’ in the right hand menu, and then to the ‘Domain Name’ heading. On the Advanced Settings page enter the domain name you set up earlier. When you check the box and click ‘Save changes’, the system will check if the URL does indeed resolve to SuperSaaS to ensure the links in reminder and confirmation emails sent are really correct. This check is also done to ensure someone else cannot incorrectly link to your schedule.

You can point multiple sub domains to the same account. For example, if you want both “www.myschedule.com” and “myschedule.com” to work, then enter only the “myschedule.com” part. If instead you want “schedule1.example.com” and “schedule2.example.com” to point to two different accounts then enter the entire domain name. You can have multiple schedules on one custom domain. The supervisor screen of the individual schedules will tell you the URL to reach a particular schedule. If you have multiple schedules and someone enters just the domain part of your custom URL, he will be shown a list of your schedules to choose from.

The top-level domain controls the default language the visitor sees. So a domain ending in '.de' would show a German language schedule. Anything for which the language cannot be determined, such as '.com' or '.org' will use the default language specified in “Layout Settings”. You can force the page to a particular language by adding '?lang=xx' to a URL, where ‘xx' is an ISO language code such as “fr” or “en” for French and English respectively.

SuperSaaS favicon

Step 3: Change the favicon

The favicon, or shortcut icon, is the little graphic that appears in front of the URL and in the bookmark list on most browsers. On Internet Explorer 6 the favicon does not show in the browser bar, it only shows in the bookmarks list. To reassure a visitor that he is really on a site that belongs to you, you can provide your own favicon. This step can actually be performed independently of the custom domain, so you can change the favicon and keep a supersaas.com URL.

You can show the favicon of your own site instead of the SuperSaaS favicon by specifying its URL in the second section of the “Advanced Settings” page. You can put in the URL of another publicly accessible website but this is typically not a good idea since this URL also specifies where the visitor will be redirected when they click your logo (assuming you uploaded your own logo).

The favicon should not be in ‘gif’ or ‘jpg’ format, it must have a specific icon format. To create one you will need a special purpose icon editor such Visual Studio, or convert a gif to icon format with one of the free internet services that can be found through Google. If you have not yet worked with favicons before you may want to read this Wikipedia article.