Saturday, September 18, 2004

Web Page Basics

OK… Yes I’m an engineer, and yes, I do know how to write web pages, but not everyone does. Since I work primarily in kernel code my experience in web design is limited. Had one class in it to get my degree, and I still use perl from time to time. But matching colors and making things pretty was never really my bag. Give me number crunching and bit twiddling any day of the week please.

So I’m trying to get my friends into web page authoring because I can. I have a domain, and enough tech savvy to administer it. What I plan to do with it is still (as always) in the air. So it brings us to the question of how do you teach web design to someone who’s never written a ‘Hello World’? Simple, you don’t. You don’t have to write a web page to publish a web page. There are plenty of methods to take what you write, and make all the ‘web stuff’ happen behind the scenes.

The most popular of these is MS Word. Due to the will of Dr. Gates, most everyone who can read or write learned how to do both using MS Word. So it’s pretty safe to assume that a good number of people know how to use it. So the basic way to create a web page using MS Word is the good ‘ol ‘Save As’. Just open up word, write some stuff, and choose ‘Save As’, then select ‘Web Page’ as the type. Easy. One thing to keep in mind is to save the MS Word created web pages in their own directory. They will create a bunch of files and directories in the process. Keeping it in it’s own directory saves you the trouble of trying to figure out which files were generated by ‘Save As’ and which weren’t.

Once you get the general idea of generating a web page with word, you can start adding cool stuff like backgrounds, links and the like. Mr. Paperclip should be able to answer any questions on adding some of these extended features to your web page. I’m not good at MS Word, notepad is more my speed.

Now, if you keep down this path, you will eventually come to the “Hey word won’t do this web thing I want”. So what do you do once you reach the end of Word’s web capabilities? FrontPage. Frankly, if you intend on doing anything non-trivial with your web page, it’s probably worth your wile to go straight to FrontPage and skip MS Word all together. If you’re not an Engineer, there is probably very little that FrontPage can’t do for you. I’ve never used it, but I understand that it’s pretty effective.

So if I don’t use FrontPage, and I don’t use Word, what do the Engineer’s use? Well they usually write the HTML by hand. This isn’t that hard to do, you just have to learn it. It follows a simple set of logic similar to some of the early word processors. There are thousands of tutorials about how to write HTML.

Alright, time for lunch, but I’ll try to post a “How to upload a Web Page” soon.

In the mean time here’s a MS Word and FrontPage tutorial.