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What Are Web Pages Anyway? A Non-Designer's Guide

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Before you begin to create web pages, it’s a good idea to know what they are and how they work. In this chapter you’ll walk through the process of actually creating a couple of practice web pages, using the web authoring software of your choice.
This chapter is from the book

Before you begin to create web pages, it’s a good idea to know what they are and how they work. We think it’s important to know why you have to do certain things—it helps you remember how to do them.

In this chapter you’ll walk through the process of actually creating a couple of practice web pages, using the web authoring software of your choice (see page 51). Remember, you’re making practice pages here that you can throw away later just to get the basic concepts down of how to begin the process of making web pages. Don’t worry about the planning of a site, the graphics, or the design at this point—that’s what the rest of the book is for. Right now, use this chapter to learn your software and the basic underlying principles of creating web pages.

What Are Web Pages?

Every one of the billions of web pages around the world are the same thing: pages of text with coded messages that tell a browser what to do. Every web page can be opened in a word processor; in fact, many web pages you see were created in word processors, with a programmer or designer typing in the code. This code is called HTML, and don’t you worry about it at all—with web authoring software (which we’ll talk about in a minute), you don’t have to even think about it (although you’ll find that it is important to have an understanding of HTML).

The acronym HTML stands for hypertext markup language. Who cares. Some people prefer to laboriously write the HTML themselves, but you can certainly create wonderful web pages without having to write the code yourself. Because each web page is created with the code, whether you wrote it or the software wrote it for you, each web page is considered to be an “HTML file.” (You’ll come across this term “HTML file” later, so try to remember it.)

You see, when you create a page with a page layout application such as Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress, the program actually records everything you do on the screen—it records it in PostScript code. But you don’t see the code on the screen because your page layout software interprets the code into words and pictures for you. When you send your page down to your printer, the printer reads the code and creates a lovely printed page for you.

You can create web pages in the same way, letting web authoring software write the code while you just put text and graphics on a page. The code is hidden from you. The software interprets the code and displays words and pictures for you while you work on a web page, just like XPress and InDesign do when you create a page to be printed. The browser software will read the code and display a web page for you. This is great.

One of the best things about web pages, and this is part of what made the World Wide Web phenomenon happen all over the world, is that any computer can read HTML files. You can create the web pages (HTML files) on your Macintosh, PC, Commodore, Amiga, Unix, or any other system you love, and anyone else on any other computer can see your pages. No more having to prepare separate files for every conceivable computer platform or operating system.

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