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By Jim Gerland and Mark Winer

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Building Your Own Home on the Internet
March 19, 1996

In our previous articles we listed many World Wide Web addresses for businesses, educational or government institutions, or individuals. Whether you realize it or not, each of these sites have something in common: a Home Page.

A Home Page is the main page of a World Wide Web site where navigation of the site begins. Most home pages feature links to other locations at the site. For businesses, company logos and pertinent information reside here with links to other company information. For example, take a look at the home page for Dunlop Tire Corporation (http://www.dunloptire.com/) or any other company with a WWW site. As an individual you can create a home page to include links to your favorite sites and graphics.

You may be wondering how difficult it is to make a home page. Do I have to be a computer programmer? No; creating a home page is relatively simple. Do I need special software? Again, no; you can use your existing word processor to create your home page.

A good place to look for information on writing your own Web pages is the Web itself. There are excellent free resources available including: A Beginner's Guide to HTML from NCSA (http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/General/Internet/WWW/HTMLPrimer.html); and Creating HTML -- A simple guide (http://www.netusa1.net/~jbornema/html.html). These are just a few of the free resources on the Web. If you do a search, you will find hundreds more!

To begin writing your own pages it is important to understand what makes Web pages unique: all WWW files are written in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). This may sound elaborate, but it's not. HTML is just plain text which can be edited with any text/word processor like the Notepad in Microsoft Windows or SimpleText on the Macintosh or a word processor such as WordPerfect. What makes HTML special is the use of tags, or codes,used to define how your text is presented. Don't get scared, HTML tags are nothing more than keywords enclosed in greater than/less than signs. These tags tell your web browser how to display the text and graphics on your screen.

A number of tags exist for you to use in creating your home page. Check out the HTML Quick Reference(http://kuhttp.cc.ukans.edu/lynx_help/HTML_quick.html) or the HTML Index (http://union.ncsa.uiuc.edu/HyperNews/get/www/html/code-index.html). Each HTML tag has a specific function which governs the structure of your document, its layout and character formatting. Of course one of the best features of HTML is the fact that you can add cool graphics, sound and even video to your page by implementing the right tags. Additionally, the beauty of the Web is that in addition to text and graphics, you can link to any other page on the WWW from your page using the right HTML tags.

For example, a line of HTML might look like this: <H1>My Home Page</H1> This line of HTML tells your browser to display the words "My Home Page" as a large headline. Notice that tags are always within angle brackets. The <H1> tag tells the browser to display the text that follows as a large headline. The </H1> tells it to stop displaying the text as a headline. Note that all end tags must have a slash in front of it.

Knowing this you may be ready to try to create your own home page. First, open a new document in your word processor. Make sure to save the file with a .html extension: all HTML documents should end in .html otherwise they won't be properly displayed by a browser. For example, you could save your home page as index.html, this is the default name for a home page.

Now you can start to add some HTML tags. Every HTML-formatted document must begin with a an <doctype html> tag. Next, you need an <html> tag and the last line of your file should be an </HTML>. Next, you need to begin the head part of the document with a <head> tag. You'll want to give a title to your page using the <title> tag, including your title between the beginning and ending tag. Use a </head> tag to end the beginning part and a <body> tag to denote the beginning of the main text and information area of your home page. To denote a paragraph use the <p> and ending </p> tags.

Besides text you'll want to add some links to other WWW sites in your home page. To do that use this HTML format: <a href="link address"> your text </a>. It looks more complicated than it is. For example, if you wanted to create a link to the on-line version of the Internet Guys page, you could do this: A great place to find information about the Internet is <a href="http://www.afterfive.com/click/"> The Internet Guys </a>. This would appear in your browser as: A great place to find information about the Internet is The Internet Guys. "The Internet Guys" is a link which when clicked will take you to that page.

And that's one of the advantages to creating your own home page: you can put all your favorite links on one page.

Now that you've created your home page you will certainly want to test it to see how it looks. Start your browser application and change the default home page. For example, in Netscape choose the Options menu, then Preferences, then select Styles from the menu. There you'll see a place to enter your default home page location. This may differ slightly depending upon the browser you are using.

Whatever browser you are using enter the file location of the home page you saved. For PC users enter file:///c:\index.html (note that the three slashes before the path are necessary). Mac users should call it file:///harddrive/index.html where hard drive equals the name of your hard drive. Click OK to exit the Options menu. Now click on the Home button of your browser and take a look at your home page.

Your home page probably won't look the way you want it to the first time. That's all right, just open up your index.html and make changes. After you've completed your edits, go to your browser and Reload your home page. It may take you a few attempts, but the result will be a personalized home page.

At this point your home page is probably just a simple text document with a few links to other cool sites. HTML allows you to do lots of neat things in addition to these. You can add graphics, audio and video files, setup tables of information or create reader feedback forms.

One of the best ways to learn about HTML programming is to look at someone else's code. Just select View Source from your browser and see what other authors have done. You can even copy and paste elements that you want to use! Remember to obey copyright and trademark laws though!

Now you're on your way to creating pages on the Web.

SAMPLE HOME PAGE

  
<!doctype hTML>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>My Home Page</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <h1>Welcome to My Home Page</H1><P>  
    <h2>Here are some of my favorite sites:</H2>  
    <a href="http://gerlandllc/harborpoint" 
    target="_blank" title="HarborPoint Mall">The 
    Harbor Point Mall</a><BR />  
    <a href="http://bfn.org/" target=&quout;_blank" 
    title="BFN">The Buffalo Free-Net</A><br />  
    <hr />
  </body>
</HTML>

BASIC HTML TAGS


<!doctype html>  - begins a HTML5 compliant document   
<html> - begins a HTML-formatted document 
<head> - beginning of HTML header information  
<title> - specifies the title of the web page  
<body> - beginning of main HTML text and information  
<h#> - shows text as a heading where # can be 1 through 6  
(with h1 being the largest heading)  
<p> - paragraph break  
<br /> - line break  
<hr /> - horizontal line  
<img src="file or URL" alt="words for non-graphic" />  
 - adds a graphic file specified by file address or URL address  
<a href="file or URL">  
 - hypertext reference to file specified by file address or URL address

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