BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2001

  

 

BOOT CAMP 171 (19/04//01)

 

GETTING ON THE WEB , part 1

 

Here's a challenge for you. At the end of this week's episode of Boot Camp I reckon you should be able to create a simple web page and put it on the Internet, in less than half an hour! It may not be the smartest looking page on the net, but it's a start, it will be all yours, and in theory it will be viewable by an estimated 450 million people around the world with Internet access.

 

Of course you will need a few things, starting with an email account that comes with an allocation of free Internet web space (most of them do). When you signed up you should have been given details of the address of the server computer where your space is uploaded. This usually begins with the letters 'ftp' (see Jargon Filter), if you've lost the details they should be in the support or FAQ pages on your ISP's web site. You will also need your login password, (usually the same one that you use to access your mailbox), and the address of your free web space.

 

Essentially that's all you need because you can create web pages on any text editor or word processor, even something as basic as Windows Notepad, but that is hard work since you have to use a programming language called HTML (hypertext mark-up language). The alternative is a web page authoring program that hides HTML behind a simple point-and-click interface. You may already have such a program, there are plenty to choose from and they are routinely given away on PC magazine discs and included in office suites, however, to keep things as simple as possible we'll be using the web page design facilities in Microsoft Word (97 or 2000).

 

Creating a web page in HTML is actually not that difficult – it is based on mostly short and simple text commands -- but it is very long-winded and not the sort of thing you want to get involved with if you're a beginner or in a hurry. If all you want to do is make an attractive looking web page with a few pictures and words, a colourful background and maybe link it to some other pages then the ready-made web page 'templates' in Word are ideal. Once you got the hang of basic web page design and publishing you can quickly progress to more advanced techniques.

 

Getting your web pages onto the Internet can sometimes be a struggle, Internet Explorer and most specialist web page design programs have upload utilities but we'll be using a program called an FTP Client, which will also make it easier to access pages on your web site. I've chosen Terrapin FTP because it has a familiar Windows Explorer type interface and you can download a fully functional shareware version from http://www.tpin.com/eu/. After downloading you can save a few minutes by installing the program (use the defaults) and when it has finished loading, click New Connection on the Server menu to enter your ftp upload page address and account details details.

 

Time now to create your first web page; you may want to spend a few minutes thinking about what you want to put on it but at this stage it's a good idea to keep it really simple. If you want to include a picture or graphic have one ready on your PC, preferably saved as a relatively small (preferably 50kb or less) JPEG file. Open Windows Explorer and use New on the File menu to create a new Folder, called 'mywebs' or something similar. Open MS Word click New on the File menu and select the Web Pages tab (if it's not there you will have to run the setup program on your Word CD-ROM installation disc). In Word 97 select the Web Page Wizard icon and chose a layout and design, don't be too ambitious, stick with the default 'Simple Layout' and 'Elegant' options for a simple, single web page template. The Web Page Wizard in Word 2000 takes slightly longer to configure but stick with the defaults and at the end of it you'll end up with a ready-made opening page, and 'hyperlinks' to two further pages. We'll be looking at multi-page designs and hyperlinks next week, but for the moment we'll concentrate on a creating a single page.

 

In both versions of Word, once the template is on the screen you can click into any section of text – start with the headings – highlight and delete the original and type in your own words, then highlight and delete the bits you don't want. As you will see it works just like an ordinary Word document; you can change font size, style and add colours effects and graphics in the usual way. Now try dropping in a picture. Place the cursor where you want it to go on the page, click on Picture on the Insert menu, then From File to select your image. When the image is on the page and highlighted it can be sized and positioned to suit.  When you are happy with your page click Web Page Preview on the File menu. This opens an Internet Explorer window to show you exactly what your page will look like when it is on the net. Finally use Save As We Page on the File menu, give it a name and save it in your 'mywebs' folder. Incidentally, the filename index.htm is an Internet convention that will ensure that the page opens first, when your site is accessed.

 

Now you are ready to upload your page. Open Terrapin and click on 'Publish My Web Site' on the Server menu and follow the prompts, skip anything you are not sure about. All being well it will step through the upload wizard locate your files, open the dial-up connection and copy the files across to the server. When it has finished you'll hear a short cheer and a round of applause. Later, when you have got used to it, you will find that Terrapin will let you move files around manually, using normal Windows drag and drop techniques. You can also use it to access files and folders on your web site, basically treating it just like another disc drive.

 

That's really all there is to it. All you have to do now is start your Internet browser, log onto your web site and make sure your newly created web page is all present and correct.

 

Next week – On the web, part 2

 

JARGON FILTER

 

FTP

File Transfer Protocol, Internet system used to move data files from one computer to another

 

HYPERLINK

Highlighted and underlined text or icon on a web page, clicking on the 'link' takes you to another part of the document, or another web page

 

JPEG

Joint Photographic Experts Group; image file format, data is compressed thus saving space and reducing download times on Internet pages

 

TOP TIP

We get a steady stream letters and emails about the dreaded cap-lock syndrome. We've all been there, merrily typing away and you inadvertently press the caps lock key. You take your eyes off the screen for a moment and find you've keyed in several sentences or paragraphs in capital letters. (No smirking all you smarty-pants touch typists…). Salvation is at hand in the shape of a nifty little freeware utility called First Cap (the download zip file is only 350kb). It is highly configurable, you can specify a warning sound that warns you cap lock has been pressed, so if you would like to put an end to capital punishment forever go immediately to: http://users.iol.it/falsinfab/falsinsoft/

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