The Internet Gurus on Creating Web Pages

[Zap!] The Big Picture
Each Web page consists of a bunch of files. You can create them on your computer, test them out by looking at them with your browser, and then upload them to a Web server so that everyone else can see them. The files that make up a Web page are:

  • The HTML file: The HTML file (which usually has a filename extension of html or htm), contains text and weird-looking codes that control the way the text looks on the Web page. For example, the codes tell the browser which text is bold, which text is a heading, and which text is a link.

  • Graphics files: Each picture on the page is stored in a separate file. Graphics files for Web pages are usually in GIF format (with the extension gif) or JPEG format (with the extension jpg).

  • Other files: If your Web page has background music (yuck) or offers to play an audio file, the audio information is stored in a separate file. Some Web pages use style sheets to store formatting information.

The process for creating and publishing a Web page (or a whole Web site!) is:

  1. Write some Web pages. Use one of the programs listed in the next section. Save the pages in file on your hard disk.

  2. Test them out using your own browser. In Netscape Navigator, Netscape 6, or Internet Explorer, choose File | Open or press Ctrl+O, then select the file on your computer. Switch between the editor (to improve your pages) and the browser (to see how the improvements look).

  3. Publish them on your ISP's system, or on another Web server. Most Internet accounts come with some free Web space. When your Web pges are stored on your computer, only you can see them (usually). If you want the world to see your Web pages, you need to store them on a Web server. Ask your ISP for the address (host name) of their Web server, and what username and password you use to connect. Then use an FTP (file transfer protocol) program to copy the files from your computer to the Web server. Some Web editors include an FTP program (ifyou use Netscape Composer, described in the next section, click the Publish button on the toolbar). Otherwise, see the chapter about downloading file in The Internet For Dummies.
How to Make an HTML File
To make the HTML file for a Web page, containing the text of the page and the HTML codes for the formatting and links, you need an editor program. If you don't mind learning HTML codes, you can use any old text editor -- we like Notepad, which comes for free with Windows (we're using it right now for this Web page!). Or you can use one of these programs, which handle some or all of the HTML codes for you:

  • Netscape Composer: This program is your best bet. Netscape Communicator, the suite of programs that includes the excellent Netscape Navigator browser, also includes a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) Web page editor called Netscape Composer. Composer isn't perfect, but it's not bad and the price is right (free). You can download Netscape Communicator 4.7, including Composer, from the Netscape Web site. From Netscape Navigator, choose Communicator | Composer from the menu.

  • Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect: You can create a Web page (HTML file) from either of these two powerful word processors just by choosing File | Save As from the menu and setting the Save As Type box to Web Page. (At least, that's the command in Word.) However, the HTML files that Word creates are huge, and take much longer to load than a page made with a more economical editor. Also, you don't have as much control over the formatting -- it's a cumbersome process, in our opinions. Thumbs down, except for quick-and-dirty temporary Web pages.

  • A Web Editor: Dozens of Web page editors are available for download. Many of them are free. Start at TUCOWS (the online software library), select your version of Windows or the Mac, select your geographical location, click the Download Software link, scroll down to the HTML Tools section, and click Editors Beginner or Editors Advanced. We like HomeSite, which you have to pay for.

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Updated: Mar 14, 2001

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