TECH TIPS FROM FRED
By Fred Henning
YOUR OWN HOME PAGE
The first thing you need to understand about a Home Page is that, regardless of what you have read or heard, creating your own home Page is easy.
When personal computers first became available they came with a programming language called BASIC. (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) Part of the tutorial for the computer was an exercise that had you type
20 PRINT "Hello"
Then save the program as HELLO.BAS. You ran the program and it cleared the screen and printed the word Hello on the screen. You made the machine do your will! This was probably the only time 99% of the computer owners actually programmed. They went out and bought Lotus 123 and WordPerfect and used the computer.
If you've picked up any books on creating a Home Page, you may have decided, "I could never do that". Wrong! Remember that you view Web Pages using a Browser such as IE4 or Netscape. Web pages were originally written (programmed) using HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language). The Browser is supposed to do most of the work when it comes to displaying your page. The HTML tells the Browser how to display the words and images using a set of commands. To see how it actually works all you need is a Browser and the Windows accessory program Notebook.
Type the following information in the box in Notebook or any other text editor and save it as "c:\test.htm", with the quotes (or Notebook will try and name it c:\test.htm.txt).
Open your browser. In place of http://www.anysite.com, type file:///c:\test.htm. When you press [Enter] you should see
hello at the left of the screen
hello in the center of the screen
hello in bold type in the center of the screen
hello large, red and in the center of the screen
The words in brackets are called Tags ( used by HTML ). The Tags are, for the most part, not case sensitive. They are also not format sensitive. In other words the above HTML code could have been written as follows, and the results would be the same.
<center>obviously says to the Browser, place what follows in the center of the screen on the next available line. When you want to stop the centering process you use </center>.
The </ is used to end most functions.
<br> is the break command and says put what follows on a new line. There is no </br>. Normally the Browser would default to a font therefore to change to a specific font for hello the <face=" " > is used.
You could combine the characteristics for the font in one set of brackets.
<font size="10" color="red" face="arial" >.
You can see the HTML of any web page by going to View Source from your Browser's Menu. It will look much more complicated because the HTML may not be broken up on separate lines from the text and may appear to run together.
There are commercial programs, shareware and freeware HTML editors that will normally color code the HTML and format the HTML and text to make it easier to create and especially edit. You can also compose the page in Word and save the file as HTML from Word's "Save As". The following is the HTML that Word would produce for our example.
<META HTTP-EQUIV="Content-Type" CONTENT="text/html; charset=windows-1252">
<META NAME="Generator" CONTENT="Microsoft Word 97">
</FONT><FONT SIZE=6 COLOR="#ff0000"><P ALIGN="CENTER">hello</P></FONT></BODY>
Since HTML was designed to format text on a screen it needed to be changed to add graphics.
(Example of code to show a picture. <IMG Src="file:///c:\face.gif" width="100" height="100" > )
As there became a need to add animation, real time audio and video, etc. to Web Sites the limitations of HTML became obvious; JAVA entered the picture. In Microsoft's world it is Active Server Pages and ActiveX to Microsoft, JAVA is a bad word.
JAVA is a programming language which can do everything HTML can and a great deal more. The only problem with creating a page using JAVA is that some of its functions may not work on all Browsers that access your site.
Before you purchase or use a program to compose your Web Page, check with the Site that will Host your Web Page to see what it accepts. Does it accept Front Page Extensions? If not then you don't want to purchase/use Microsoft Front Page. Will the site support Active Server Pages or ActiveX? These are Microsoft specific and many sites won't support them.
You may want to use Adobe PageMill to produce your pages. It tends to produce a more universal HTML, able to work on most Home Page servers.
AOL, Netscape and other Web Hosting sites often have simple templates and software to set up your Home Page without the need to purchase anything. (The Tribune even has a set of templates for local organizations to set up pages on its site.www.chicagotribune.com)
Remember, you can create a Web Site on your PC and test everything before you show it to the world and it shouldn't cost you anything
TECH TIPS FROM FRED
By Fred Henning
YOUR OWN HOME PAGE
After last month's article on Web Pages I was asked to give an example of how to actually get a Home Page on the Web so others can see it.
Remember that I said that some Internet Service Providers actually have Templates and/or programs that allow you to create your Web presence. Since it depends upon your provider I can't explain their procedure. Instead I will explain how I got my pages up.
One week I decided it was time I had a real Web Site. I wanted to have a real name, like henning.com. When I tried www.henning.com I found that it existed and was a 'Shared Domain' site. The name Henning.com was taken but they would let you share the Henning.com site name. The cost was very reasonable, you were able to use the name for e-mail and you actually could have space on their computers for your web site. I was bold and e-mailed back my American Express Card number and, as if by magic, the next day (Thursday) my Web Site became www.fred.henning.com and my e-mail address email@example.com.
The next step was to decide what I wanted to do with the site. Since I have a large ego, I thought that I could advertise my services and use examples of presentations and articles as content. (Note the three 'I's in one sentence.) The content could have been a site devoted to fancy computer programs or my collection of Fire Department toys, ornaments and equipment or the grandchildren or all of the above. Another reason for developing the site was to see just how much work there is to being a 'web-master'!
I purchased Adobe's PageMill software (Friday night) because the site did not support Microsoft FrontPage extensions. You can use the templates that come with the software and just fill in the blanks or figure out how to build your own site. I chose the latter but did look at the template code to see what it was doing. By Sunday at about 9p.m., www.fred.henning.com was operational.
I found that I was actually doing some of the development in Power Point and saving the slide in HTML. I would then select the items I wanted and copy them to PageMill. One of the more frustrating challenges was figuring out how to change the Power Point lettering or image so that it didn't have a box around it. Not a visible box but a border that kept it from being next to something else. The function I needed was 'make transparent'. It actually only makes a single color transparent so that if I used a white background any colored fancy lettering would remain and would fit in a sentence with the other text. (I made the white transparent.) I also found that I could convert entire Power Point presentations to HTML. I converted one as an example and added it to the site.
I then used some of the articles that I had written and included them. This was a good way to learn how to use the Hyperlink function and how to keep my navigation frame visible at all times.
After I had built the site on my PC and viewed it with Navigator, IE and AOL, I did have to make some minor changes to have everything work the same regardless of the browser used to view the site.
The next step was to move the site from my PC to the actual Web Server. I had instructions but needed one more piece of software. I was provided the URL for an ftp site where I could get a free version of some FTP software. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. This software allows you to copy and/or move files from one machine to another. It's like the Windows Explorer function on your Windows 95/98 PC except it works with UNIX, SUN and other operating system computers used as Web Servers.
Don't think that because you have a Web presence on AOL or ?????.com that someone going to Yahoo and typing Your Name will get your Web Site. Actually, fred+henning at present comes up as being on the Slate of Nominees for the HBOC users group for 1996 on Yahoo and as a presenter at several conferences on the AltaVista engine. In the past it has come up in various journal articles but never my Home Page! If you want your site to come up you need to spend a little time and money to get it advertised to the various 'search engines'.
I was talking to one of my brothers about the henning.com site and he said that one of his sons has already taken a Web Site design class in high school. I would agree that the topic is very appropriate for high school and even Jr. high. It doesn't deserve to be a college level course. It isn't that hard! I was recently talking with a friend that has hired High School students as interns to do web development. He says they are exceptional, creative, technically competent, innovative and put in a full day's work actually they work at home without pay and bring their efforts in to implement them. The real challenge with Web sites is the security, speed and data base required of large commercial sites. For you and I it should just be fun since we don't have these issues, at least for our personal Web Site.