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ic24: YOU CAN TOO - QUICK ON THE DRAW; Alistair, 15 builds his web page in just a few hours.

WHETHER you're new to the Internet or an old hand, eventually the novelty of surfing will start to wear off. Sooner or later you'll want to grab a little corner of the Web for yourself.

Believe it or not, creating your own web site is something you can do for free (assuming you already have a computer).

If you've joined ic24 you have 10Mb (megabytes) of space, enough for an enormous collection of pages.

You'll need some software too, but it doesn't necessarily have to be anything special: you can make do with the software built into Windows or MacOS. So what are you waiting for?

Follow these steps and start building your site! We put Alistair Kerr to the test and this is what he came up with.

STEP 1

FIRST things first ... It helps to know what a web page is before you start writing one, so here's a quick description. Despite what it looks like, a web page is really just text - words, punctuation, and so on. The big difference between this and other text you type is that a web page also contains special codes called "tags". These tags belong to a simple language called HTML. Whenever you open a web page in your browser, the browser uses these tags to work out how to display all the text on the page. As an example, to display a sentence in bold text, you'd type <B> followed by your sentence, and then </B>. The <B> tag means "turn on bold text", and the </B> tag means "turn off bold text". So where do the pictures on a web page come from? As usual, it's all the work of tags. Type the <IMG> tag along with the name of the picture file, and when a browser reads that tag it displays the picture itself rather than the file name.

STEP 2

CHOOSE your weapons. Because web pages are written as ordinary text, you can use a simple text editor like Windows' Notepad to write them. If you do that you'll need to learn the HTML language. If you do want to use software built for the job, Windows provides a program called FrontPage Express that lets you build pages visually. Other programs that use this approach are CoffeeCup Express from www.coffeecup.com and the excellent (but expensive!)

Fusion from www.netobjects.com.

A neat compromise between the Notepad approach and the visual approach is a type of software called an HTML editor. Two good examples of HTML editors are Homesite (www.allaire.com /homesite) and HotDog (www.sausage.com).

STEP 3

SPEAK the lingo. If you want to learn the HTML language, there are lots of tutorials on the web. One of the best is at www.davesite.

com/webstation/html and www.hotwired.com /webmonkey. You can see how other people's page were created: find a web page, right-click (or Control-click for Mac users) and choose View Source. You'll see all the code that makes up the page.

STEP 4

What's it all about? Okay, you're ready to start building, but first ... What's your site all about? Why would anyone visit it? Make sure you know where you're going with it, and try to give people a reason to come and look: the most popular sites are those that give something away free, provide hard-to-find information, or are entertaining. If you've ever looked for a certain type of site yourself and couldn't find one, why not try to build it yourself?

STEP 5

PUT on your architect's hat Most sites consist of several pages (or lots of pages) linked together, and that's always preferable to one very long page.You'll need to write a page

called either index.htm or index.html (it doesn't matter which), and this will be the first page of your site that people see, so it should be welcoming and it needs to include links to your other pages.

This index page is known as your "home page", and all your other pages should have a link back to it so that people who visit your site can find their way to all your pages without getting lost.

STEP 6

BE careful with file names!

The address of your site (known as your URL) will be something like http://www.ic24.net /yourname. When people visit that URL, their browser will look for a file called index and display it, so make sure your main page has that name. All the web pages you write will have the extension ".htm" or ".html". Try to stick to one or the other to avoid getting confused! Apart from your index page, your pages can be called anything you like, with just one condition: don't use any spaces or unusual characters in the names. This applies to anything that will be a part of your site. For simplicity, keep all these files in a single folder. It makes life a lot simpler when starting out.

STEP 7

ADD a picture. You can either create your own images or find them on the Web. If you create your own, they need to be in JPEG or GIF format. If you're not sure how it all works, save as JPEG first then as GIF, and compare the two pictures to see which looks better. If they both look much the same, look at the size of each file and pick the smaller. Windows 98 users can use the Paint program that comes with Windows, but you'll get better results using a program like Paint Shop Pro (www.jasc.com) or Adobe

PhotoDeluxe (www.adobe.com).

For graphics take a look at www.netcreations.com/patternland msdn.microsoft.com/downloads/ default.asp.

STEP 8

TEST IT! Okay, that's the web site written, although at the moment it only exists on your own computer. But to put it on the Web, you need to check that everything works. In particular, check that all the links you've included to other pages on your site are working. To do this, load your index page into your browser and click all your links one by one. Finally, when you've tweaked your pages to perfection, you're ready to upload then to the Web ...

STEP 9

YOU now need to "upload" all the web files from the computer to your web site. If you saved all your pages and images into one folder, this should be easy. To upload files you'll need an FTP program, and the best of the bunch is a freebie called FTP Explorer from www.ftpx.com. ic24 will give you the details you need next. You should have a username and password, which might be the same as those you enter for your dial- up connection, and the Internet address of the computer that holds ic24's web pages. Enter these details into FTP Explorer's Connect page, click Save then Connect. Select all the files of your new web site, drag them into FTP Explorer's main window and drop them. Once all the files have been uploaded, use your browser to go to your web site and check it's as reliable online as it was on your own computer. Make sure all the images are displayed and the links work.

STEP 10

PUBLICISE IT! Congratulations, you're Webbed! But who knows the site is there. You can find out whether people are visiting by adding a counter to your index page (another free service). My favourite is ShowStat (www.showstat.com).

There are lots of ways to publicise a site, but number one is to register it with as many search engines as possible. Visit www.addme.com or www.submit- it.com, follow the instructions and have your site registered with several dozen search engines fairly quickly. It's worth making a note of the search engines covered by these services. Most search engines have an "Add Your Site" link somewhere on their main page for this purpose.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 27, 1999
Words:1328
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