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News – 01-MAR-00 (March 01, 2000)


March 1, 2000
By Pulp & Paper Canada

INPUT z OUTPUTIn the July1999 issue, Phil Riebel described how to build a small, business-oriented, web-site. The concept is still valid, but some of the details are already obsolete, because there is…

INPUT z OUTPUT

In the July1999 issue, Phil Riebel described how to build a small, business-oriented, web-site. The concept is still valid, but some of the details are already obsolete, because there is now more powerful software available that is also easier to use (Microsoft Front page 2000 is the leader).

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As Phil discussed, the web site must have a place to reside. Some Internet Service Providers (ISP), including www.sympatico.ca provide some space for a web site as part of the basic Internet service. Others, including my ISP, Videotron, charge extra.

There are also sites on the Internet that allow individuals to build and install their own site, at no charge, in return for using a small proportion of your site for advertising. Essentially, this is the electronic version of the free community newspaper.

The best known is probably http://geocities.yahoo.com/home/. The site includes software for building a web page on-line, so the total cost of your web page is your time.

The principal limitation on the Geocities site is that web pages for commercial purposes are not permitted. You can build a site for the hockey-team you coach, the family, the local golf club, charitable organization etc.

All you really need is a computer with access to the World Wide Web, and some imagination.

You can enter all text on the screen, on-line, but it is better to prepare it in a word processor, check the spelling, and complete editing before putting it on the web page.

If you want pictures on your Web-site, then you need either a scanner to scan photographs, or a digital camera. We have discussed both devices in recent columns.

All web sites have a home page, and may have as many more pages linked to the home page as the site builder wishes. Some sites have tens of thousands of pages. Geocities allows 15 MB of free web space, which is sufficient for over a hundred typical pages.

A “page” can be as long as you like, although most pages are small enough to fit on a few screens.

A “hyperlink” is text or a graphic object that will lead you to another location when clicked with the mouse. Hyperlinks are most commonly identified by being displayed in blue underlined text, but can have any appearance that the site builder wishes.

“Wizards” are small programs that lead you through a particular task with on-screen prompts and advice. While they are usually easy to use, they limit your choices to those that the programmer considered important.

Graphics/photo editing software may discuss “dots” or “pixels.” The terms are synonymous, and refer to one of the thousands of dots that make up a picture.

Load the http://geocities.yahoo. com/home/ page, and create a blank web site for yourself by signing in as a new user to build a page.

I built a very simple new site called PPCanadaTest for the purposes of this article. You can have a look at it at http://geocities.com/ppcanadatest/Home.html.

After creating your identity, launch Page Builder by clicking on the hyperlink on the screen or select one of the other ways of building your home page.

Instead of using Page Builder, I built the PPCanadaTest home page using the wizard for a “personal page”. This led me through a series of 10 steps to choose a border color, add my name, etc. It is very easy to do, but the choices offered are quite limited. It is better to use Yahoo’s Page Builder, which is quite flexible.

When you activate Page Builder, you will find a blank page that you can insert text, graphics and special effects by choosing from a menu, then save your work as one page of your web. The procedures for using it are intuitive, and there is an on-line help capability just like most Windows programs. The greatest problem I found is that it is slow, probably because so many people are using it.

A secondary problem is that what you see on the Page Builder display is not exactly what you see in the finished web page, so some trial and error in layout is necessary.

The easiest way to write, edit and check spelling is with a word processor. Paragraphs for a word processing file can simply be copied and pasted into a web page. You can also save your file as a web page, then upload it to the web site, as I did with the original of this article.

WORD 2000 and Word Perfect have some quite powerful web page building tools, which are described in their help systems. Once built, the page can be uploaded to Geocities or other ISP that hosts web sites.

PICTURES

To display your own pictures on the web site, you must take them with a digital camera, or scan a photograph taken by a traditional camera. The software that accompanies digital cameras and scanners generally describes the procedures for use quite well. The essential issues are file format and size. There is a bewildering variety of file formats for storing pictures, some of which are proprietary to one vendor. The only two formats of practical use for simple web pages have the filename extensions “JPG” and “GIF”. Virtually all scanner and digital camera control software can generate JPG formatted files, and this is normally the best for Web use. Look for “save” or “save as” or “export” under the “File” menu at the top left of the window of the graphics software.

It is easy to create huge graphic files, particularly when using a scanner. Large files are an aggravation to the Internet user, who may take several minutes to download one oversize picture. Normally, it is best to scan with about 1600 dots wide (if the software gives you the choice of pixels per inch, then do the necessary calculation). Then cut the size down to below 640 dots wide with the photo editing software.

There is a variety of software for editing photographs on the market, and virtually all scanners and digital cameras include quite good bundled software. In addition, Microsoft Photo Editor is included with Windows 98. I find Microsoft Photo Editor most convenient, but it cannot embed text in a photograph, so I use Adobe Photo Shop (bundled with Word Perfect) to add text.

All the photo editors allow you to change the size of the picture, and for a web page you should normally reduce to below 640 pixels wide. When saving the file, to JPG format, there is some choice in quality, and it is usually best to select a high quality. Experiment with a few, to see file size relative to quality. Once you have saved to a low quality you cannot recover it, so it is best to keep the original digital file, and save the lower quality versions to a new name.P&PC

BUILDING YOUR OWN WEB SITE HAS GOTTEN EASIER

Location, location, location . . . Internet service may include space for a web site By Neil McCubbin


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