April 13, 2006

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Web site, by you
No, your MySpace blog doesn't count
By John “jaQ” Andrews  jandrews@hippopress.com

So, you’ve been surfing around those Internets of yours, and you fancy yourself an expert, eh?

Lemme ask you this: ever made one o’ them “Web pages” yourself? Even have a clue how?

No matter what your answer, the majority of geeks think you’re lame. That’s right, if you saved a page as HTML in Word once, many geeks hate you for using a Microsoft product and creating clumsy code. If you do advanced scripting in vi (that’s a Linux text editor, yo), many geeks hate you for being an elitist.

There’s no way to win, so you should feel no shame in seeking out WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) page editors. And, hey, if they’re free? All the better.

Mozilla Composer
Distributed with the Mozilla Suite, including a browser (not Firefox), mail client (not Thunderbird) and other stuff, Composer harkens all the way back to the Netscape days of Web browsing. Netscape users had this handy tool for making up simple Web pages, just a button click away from their browsing of Web sites.

There are four tabs: “Normal,” which lets you drag and drop images and type like a normal word processor; “HTML Tags,” which shows you major tags associated with sections of your page; “Source,” in which you can view and edit the actual HTML code that’s been generated; and “Preview,” which shows what your page looks like in a browser.

The problem? The interface is klutzy, and some functions just don’t work. Want to resize your table in the Table Properties window? Sorry, you can type in a width in pixels, but the table doesn’t change. Either do an approximation by dragging the little widgets on the table’s corners or edit the width directly in the Source tab.

Nvu
Nvu (pronounced “enn-vyu,” short for “new view”) is a slicker editor based on Composer. Not only do functions actually work, but the interface is much more pretty and useful. The Normal tab shows you exactly how many pixels wide and high your various elements are, and the Source tab color-codes different tags and numbers each line of code for easy reference.

There’s also a site manager, which helps you upload your pages to a Web server so people can actually see them. On the Web.

Trellian WebPage
Do not confuse Trellian with Trillian, the chat program. The biggest difference? Trillian doesn’t suck.

OK, that’s unfair. This program has its merits, like being able to insert JavaScript without much fuss. But the interface is confusing and cluttered — not at all what an inexperienced person wants to look at. I hid a browser section at the bottom and couldn’t figure out how to unhide it again. And I think that’s where the Help files showed up.

Of the available options, I’d go with Nvu. It’s most geared toward simple, intuitive editing. One tip: wherever you store your page on your computer, store the pictures you use for that page in a folder called “images” in the same place. That’ll make uploading your complete site much easier. More on that next week..


Comments? Thoughts? Discuss these articles and more at hippoflea.com

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