BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2005

  

 

BOOTLOG 004 27/09/05

BUILDING A WEBSITE, part 4

 

It is now time to start thinking about making web pages and there are essentially two methods, the hard way and the easy way.

 

The hard way is to use HTML code or lines of text commands or ‘tags’ that specify everything that’s on a web page, down to the smallest detail. HTML is not especially difficult to learn, much of it is in plain English and the beauty of it is that complex web pages can be composed using a simple text editor or word processor. For example the first few lines of HTML code for this page are as follows:

 

<html>

<head>

<title>Contents 4</title>

 

The trouble is there are more than 400 other lines on this fairly basic page and a fair few of them look like this:

 

<p class=MsoNormal style="line-height:100%; margin:0;" align="left"><font face="Arial"><span style="font-family:Arial; font-weight:normal;"><b>BUILDING A WEBSITE, part 4</b></span></font><b><font face="Arial"><span style="font-family:Arial; font-weight:normal;"><o:p></span>

</font></b></p>

 

That little lot basically specifies part of the heading at the top of the page, including the position of the text, typeface, font size and weight. Have another look, you can probably figure out what most of it means and if you want to know more we looked at basic HTML coding in Boot Camp 373. However, the point is composing web pages using just HTML code can be slow and laborious, at least to begin with, so without more ado let’s consider the easier alternative.

 

Most Internet pages are created using a ‘wizzywig’ (WYSIWYG or what you see is what you get) web-authoring program and there is a very good chance that you already have one on your PC. Microsoft Word has basic web page design facilities built in, and if you are using MS Office then you should also have a copy of FrontPage, one of the best and easiest to use web page editors, and a good place for novices to start. Don’t worry even if you have neither of these programs there are some very decent freeware programs available, including the excellent Nvu (pronounced N-View). This is open source software and it began life as a Linux application but versions are now available for Windows XP and Mac OS X from: www.nvu.com/

 

Dedicated web page editing programs like FrontPage, Nvu, Dreamweaver, WebEditor and so on have three elements in common. The first and most important one is a wizzywig editing window that lets you design a web page by combining the functions of a word processor, page layout and picture editing programs. In other words you build a web page with chunks of text, pictures and graphic elements, which you manipulate on the screen so what you see in front of you is more or less what will appear on the finished web page.

 

The second element is a HTML editing window and sometimes a split HTML/Edit window as well that lets you see both the code and the actual page at the same time. HTML is necessary because some aspects of web page design are most easily handled by short segments of code but don’t let that worry you and you can safely ignore it for simple page layout and design jobs.

 

The third and final element is an FTP publishing utility or ‘client’ program. FTP or File Transfer Protocol is the means by which finished web pages are uploaded from your PC to your web host’s server computer (see part 3) and ‘published’ on the Internet. This is the one thing that’s missing from Word so if you want to use it to create web pages you will need a separate FTP client. If you are using free web space supplied to you by your ISP; you may be able to use Internet Explorer or software provided by them to upload your pages, otherwise there are plenty of freeware and shareware FTP Clients available for download. SmartFTP (www.smartftp.com/) is a popular choice and it is free for personal use.

 

part 5 -- web page layout and design

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