Article by Kevin Savetz

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Copyright © by Kevin Savetz


You don't have to be ashamed, you've come to the right place. You're among friends now. No one here will mock you if you have never made a web page. We won't snicker if you admit that you haven't learned HTML -- the HyperText Markup Language that is used to create web pages. We have all been in your shoes.

When you're ready to make a web page, Netscape Communicator will help you do it. Using Communicator's "Page Wizard", you can create a simple web page without knowing anything about HTML. After you've done that, when you're ready to take the next step, Netscape's web site includes several simple templates that you can use to create a more expressive page. You also have access to Netscape Composer, a full-featured HTML editor that's part of Communicator -- but let's start with the simple stuff.

Page Wizard

The Page Wizard is a feature of Communicator that will let you get your feet wet even if you don't know the first thing about HTML. As you follow a series of steps, the Page Wizard will put together the pieces of a web page in a matter of minutes. Mind you, the Page Wizard can only create the most basic of web pages -- if you want anything more complicated, you'll have to get your hands a bit dirty.

To begin using the wizard, go to Communicator's File menu, select New and then click on "Page From Wizard..." The rest of the process is for the most part self-explanatory -- just read the short introduction, press the Start button and you're on your way.

You'll notice three frames. On the left are the step-by-step instructions. On the bottom, the entry area where you can type text, select colors and choose graphics that will be used on your page. On the right, a preview of your web page. Read through the instructions, clicking on the red links as you go. For instance, start by clicking on "give your page a title": a text box will appear in the bottom frame. Type a title ("My first web page" will do nicely) and press Apply. Do not be alarmed should tears of joy stream down your cheeks as your title appears in the Preview frame. Keep working down the instructions, being careful not to cry onto the keyboard. If you aren't happy with a choice, just select it again to change it.

The introduction and conclusion paragraphs are limited to 300 characters each, despite the fact that the instructions say you have 1,000. Keep it short for now -- you'll be able to add limitless text later.

After you've worked through the instructions and are satisfied with your creation, press the Build button. The Page Wizard will disappear, replaced by a life-size version of your web page. If you want to save it for all posterity or see the HTML code that makes it tick, choose Edit Page from the File menu. If you don't do this, the page will be lost to the ages.

Netscape Composer

You'll find yourself looking at the Composer window. Composer is a full-featured HTML editor that's part of Communicator.

To keep a copy of your creation on your computer (so you can work on it later or upload it to a web server) choose Save As... from the File menu. (Ignore the warning about saving a page from on another server.) To see the actual HTML code that comprises your page, choose Page Source from the View menu. You'll be staring at the raw guts of your little web page. Read it carefully and you'll figure out in short order the magic of HTML.

The neat thing about Composer is that it lets you edit web pages without actually having to deal with HTML (well, not much). You can edit text with ease, add images, color and hyperlinks. Hover the cursor over each toolbar item to see what they do, and experiment!

Templates

Netscape provides budding page builders with yet another resource: templates. These are a collection of pre-cooked pages that you can use as a basis for building more complicated pages. For instance, you might use the layout of the resume template to create your own online resume or the simple business template as the basis for your own business page. To use a template, choose New->Page From Template from the File menu. You'll see a list of templates, so click one -- resume, for instance. To use that template as the basis for your own page (or just to see how it was built), choose Edit Page from the File menu. You'll bop into Composer, where you can tweak the template all day long. Don't forget to save it along the way.

The templates have been available at Netscape's site for a while, and some of them show their age, labeled "This page created with Netscape Navigator 2.0" Don't worry, these templates will work dandily with version 4.0 and beyond.

If you're thirsty for more, check out Netscape's HTML Tool Chest (http://home.netscape.com/assist/net_sites/starter/samples/index.html), which features links to many more resources for HTML newbies. There you'll find HTML how-to guides, public domain clip art that you can use on your pages as well as more advanced fare for when you're ready.

Congratulations. You can now log out, content in the knowledge that you have created your very own web page. That wasn't so hard, was it?


Articles by Kevin Savetz