General :

Return to Primer Index Page


Web pages are made out of HTML text. HTML is called a "markup" language (allegedly not quite a "programming" language). It's essentially a very high level (user friendly) programming language of very limited control. The control limitations are made worse by the sibling rivalry between Microsoft and Netscape, each of which has a personal interest in making the other look bad. By marking up a page of text with HTML notation, you control the text formatting, the insertion and placement of graphics and/or other functional "objects", hyperlinks, colors and etc., which will occur when the page is viewed with an internet "Browser". The goal of this website is to quickly teach you to generate a simple website using longhand HTML, consisting of several pages that you will "hyperlink" together. This will include placing graphic thumbnails and blowups.

You'll need to designate one page to be the "front page". This front page needs to be named index.htm or index.html, or in rare cases something else. If it doesn't have the correct filename, it won't automatically come up when the website is called up by a browser. You'll get a directory index instead (contact your Internet Service provider - ISP, if it's an issue).

Further options that I willl brief you on are adding graphics using tables both for aesthetic appeal and as an aid for placement control (when they are designed to be invisable). I'll mention Frames, but not go into detail. They are relatively complicated and time consuming. If you are serious about using frames then I recommend getting Dreamweaver, or another web editor tool. It will pay for itself in time savings very soon. Cascading style sheets will also be mentioned but not in detail.

Once the quickie web-site is completed and varified in the Browser(s) "locally" (not bounced off the ISP), you will "FTP" (send with FTP protocol encoding) the files up to the web server computer (at the ISP unless you've make other arrangements). You will then be able to view your website on the web, rather than locally. You will either use an FTP function built in to your code generator program (such as Dreamweaver), or I have good enough luck with the WSFTP program (30 days is free). At some point you will notice that neither Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) nor Netscape Communicator (Netscape) conform to the W3C international HTML standards. You will notice that what you have designed may not always look the same in both Browsers. The more complicated the techniques involved, the less likely that both browsers will dispaly your page acceptably.

As of 2001, Hewlett-Packard is one company that has chosen to design their websites ONLY for the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) browser (ver. 4 and later). This is so they can have use of a bunch of fancy features, and not have to deal with the fact that their website features will not work in other browsers, such as Netscape. To be compatible with Netscape as well, they would need to redesign the entire website for the Netscape browser, put "browser detectors" on the front page, and use javascript to select the appropriate hyperlink to the appropriately optimized website. Then they might also need independant content update XML stuff, and it would be quite the mess. In spite of them trying to keep things simple by not catering to Netscape, the HP website has been in considerable dis-repair for most of the time I worked there.

If you are thinking of putting a business on a website, let me say plainly: Any information ever entered into an internet connection will be stolen and sold to marketting companies and anyone else who has any potential use of your personal and/or marketing information. Not only can you count of this, but it will probably happen 10 times within the first few minutes after you log on to the net, if what I've been reading in Computer Industry Trade Magazines is true. Any business websites should be presentational only, and not ever ask anyone to enter personal information that is required in order to actually place an order. The web should be, and can only legitimately be, a glorified yellow pages, when it comes to doing business. I was told that they finally convicted the teenager from England who stole credit card numbers from hundreds of ultra rich people. They said the teenage hacker ordered a case of Viagra to be sent to Bill Gates office at Microsoft, and he paid for it with Bill Gates own credit card number. Every month or two we have another virus, horse or worm coming through collecting data and wreaking havoc on your hard drive. Quite a few of the sites you visit plant "cookie" type mechanisms on your hard drive the second you arrive. They collect data, such as what websites you visit, personal data, etc. Some times the data isn't retreived until another day. Ya ever seen a lobster trap? Enough said.

To create an HTML document, all you need is the simplest of word processors. Notepad in the Windows Accessories is very popular for this. Be sure to select the "wrap text" mode once it's up, or it will scroll many pages on the same line. I think gates was high when he designed this, but there's beauty in notepads simplicity otherwise. If you use Microsoft Word, make sure to save the files as text only. Recent versions of Word also offer the option of saving pages as HTML. Only use that option for plain text documents, not HTML (tagged) documents. The Word HTML convertor is not very good. I don't recommend using it.

When you are surfing the web with a browser, you can at any time look at the source code (HTML) for that page, and learn from it, or even copy and paste sections of it when constructing a given page, in order to save time. It can be accessed by going to the menu bar of the Browser, and clicking on View, and then on Source. On this site, you should be able to make sense of pretty much everything once you get going. On most commercial oriented websites where they are running a business or other complex venture, they have HTML techniques that are beyond the scope of this tutorial, and will be confusing. Scripts for communicating with server-side databases, for example.

File management is one of the most typical problems beginning website developers have since hyperlinks are dependant on both file names and relative locations. It's wise to make one folder for the entire wesite, and don't FTP that folder itself up to the web-server. In that folder, have all the HTML pages not in an additional folder. Put all graphics in an additional folder inside the main folder. If you've got Javascripts, GIF animations and/or other unusual "objects", you can put them in separate folders in side the main folder too. The reason that the HTML pages are left outside of a separate folder, inside the main folder, is because althou they could also be in their own folder, some web-servers have a problem with going upstream with internal links if they have to go more than one or two levels up.

One thing that many books neglect to mention is that a typical web-server is running on a UNIX or LINUX operating system, which has some of its own sensitivities. To avoid problems with this, follow these rules:

When my first website didn't work, I found the ISP technician at to be helpful and friendly. In fact, this is why I quit cable and went back to dial-up 56K. Customer Service!