Building Your Class Web Site
HTML and the Web
The architecture of the Web is constantly changing. While most pages
are still constructed using hypertext markup language or HTML, you can
find many sites that use different languages to serve up Web pages.
You can identify the technology the page uses by
looking at the file extension used. These file extensions include html
(or htm), asp, cfm, php, and xml. Most novices create their first Web
sites using HTML only.
Depending upon the page you are looking at, you might
to be interactive. For example, roll-overs—links that change colors
security while surfing.
There is a wide variety of software available that automatically creates
HTML code. This is known as authoring software. Microsoft FrontPage, Macromedia
Dreamweaver, and Adobe GoLive are just a few of the popular software programs.
The software allows you to arrange text and pictures
on a page while it generates the HTML code for you. When the program allows
you to design the page without having to look at the markup codes, it
is know as a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor. Other programs
allow you to toggle back and forth between the source code and the design
or layout page. In some cases, you may not even need to know anything
about HTML to get your site ready to publish.
Some hosting services such as Yahoo!'s Geocities
allow you to download their proprietary Web authoring tools to create
The key to finding the right software package is
to understand your skill level, the site design you have in mind, and
the server software used by your hosting service.
Beware of the Generated Code
Many HTML authoring tools generate advanced scripts that are incompatible
with the software being used by the Internet server. Many users are unaware
that these scripts are being generated in the code of the pages they are
If you are not certain that the authoring software
generates compatible scripts and you cannot reach the Webmaster to find
out, it is best to scale back your use of bells and whistles such as rollovers,
frames, and other more advanced features. These features generally require
more advanced scripting and are often not supported by Web servers.
Do It Yourself
Of course, many people choose to write their own HTML using a simple text
editor such as Notepad or TextEdit. HTML is not difficult to learn, and
there are numerous Web sites that can help you.
Ultimately, you will be more knowledgeable and have
more control over your page layout and interactivity if you can write
HTML. See the Basic HTML for Educators article
to learn more about basic HTML coding.
Once you have created your class Web site, you must transfer the files
to a host server. To do this, you will upload your files using the file
transfer protocol (FTP).
An FTP software program allows you to transfer files
from your computer to your host server, which can be located anywhere
in the world.
Many FTP programs open up a new window to allow you
to browse through your files and select those that you want to put on
your host server. Posting the information often is as easy as clicking
Fortunately, many WYSIWYG editors include a built-in
function to transfer files, making an external FTP program unnecessary.
However, if you don't have an automatic FTP function, Ipswitch's freeware
version of WS-FTP is one of the most widely and easily used FTP software
Understanding Web Graphics
Graphics can help add clarity to the written text on your Web pages. Web
browsers allow you to view only those graphic files that have been prepared
for the Web, however. The two standard file formats found on a web page
are GIF and JPEG.
GIF files are primarily used for graphics that have
"flat" plains of color, such as text and simple illustrations.
The JPEG format is usually used for more complex images such as photos.
The resolution, or clarity, of these images doesn't
have to be as high on the Web as it does for print. GIF and JPEG image
files can be saved at a low resolution to keep the file size small. This
decreases the time it takes for them to download on your Web page.
You can prepare and create image files for your Web
site using graphic programs such as PhotoShop, Illustrator, or PaintShop
Read more about Web graphics in Mark Larmand's fascinating
Of course, not everyone has the tools, time, or skill to make compelling
Luckily, you can find free graphics all over the
Web. There are many sites that offer free images. (Images include backgrounds,
buttons, borders, and illustrations and photos.)
Be careful not to take something without permission.
Although it's very easy to download images and pictures, this does not
mean that it's legal to do so. Only use images for which you have permission.
To find sites that offer freebies, run a search for
"free Web images." However, do not encourage your students to
try this search, as this query could lead to a list that includes useful
images in addition to inappropriate material.
When you create your Web site, you need to create a folder—also known
as a directory—to contain all your Web site files. This is what you
will upload to your Web server when you FTP.
You should save all your HTML files in this folder.
In addition, you should create a separate folder within the site folder
for your graphics and name it "images." Keep all of your graphics
When you name files (and folders), it is best to
keep all words in the name lower case. Following this general rule allows
the files to be more easily referenced, since many servers are case sensitive.
You will also need to avoid spaces between words
in a file name. For example, you don't want a page called "Home Page.htm."
Many servers can't read the spaces in file names. Use an underscore to
separate words in a filename, or try to use a single word to name the
file. In the case above, you should name the file "home_page.htm."
Ready to Begin
Now that you have learned about file types and naming conventions for
html files, you are ready to begin you Web odyssey! If you are authoring
your own page, or even if you are using a software authoring tool, check
out the Basic HTML for Educators article.
Read More About It
Web Developer's Virtual Library (WDVL)
This site contains a vast amount of information about Web technology.
It may appear intimidating as a novice, but it is well worth the effort
to drill down to the articles on HTML. You can learn quite a lot from
this well-organized site.
Similar to the WDVL, this site offers articles and tutorials for web
developers. You can visit an online forum to read answers to a wide variety
of technical questions, and you can even post your own questions.
Basic HTML for Educators
HTML is the building block of Web pages, and gaining a basic understanding of how it is structured will help you as you build your class Web site. Whether you are building your page line by line or simply trying to troubleshoot code generated by your Web page authoring software, this article will set you on your way to getting your site online.
Web Publishing Basics
Building your first class Web site is an exciting and sometimes intimidating experience. While there are many software programs that can help you design a simple Web page, there are numerous other details that you will need to know before you can launch your class Web site. This article, our first in a series about Web publishing, offers you basic information about how Web pages are displayed, where they "live" in cyberspace, and what to watch out for when arranging for a hosting service.