Web documents are text documents that have had formatting applied to them using a special language called HTML (HyperText Markup Language). This language consists of formatting tags that are made up by phrases enclosed in greater than > and less than < symbols. These tags are used to denote various parts, styles, and links on a web page. To make text bold, for example, you would type the text you want to make bold and then surround it with the
<b> and </b> tags. Notice that most tags are used in pairs. In the preceding example, the word and would appear in bold, but only if we use the
</b> tag which has the / in it to denote that it is a closing tag.
HTML is made up of many tags. There are tags to tell the browser when to start a new paragraph or when to make a font larger. There are also tags to tell the browser how to link to another page on the Internet (such as
<a href="fcit.usf.edu">Link to FCIT</a>) if certain text or graphics are clicked. Learning just a handful of these HTML codes will allow you to create a web page. Here is an example of the “bare bones” code you need to type for any web page:
<html> <head> <title> Sue's Home Page </title> </head> <body> <p> This is my first web page! </p> </body> </html>
Because it is just text with special formatting tags applied to it, any text editor can be used to create web pages with HTML. For example, you can use TextEdit, the text editor included with Mac OS X (Note: you must select Format, Make Plain Text before you enter your code in TextEdit).
However, to create more advanced code, you may find it easier to work with a “What You See Is What You Get” or WYSIWYG commercial program such as Macromedia Dreamweaver or Realmac Software’s Rapidweaver.
A great alternative to the commercial programs listed above is the free application Nvu.
As with Dreamweaver and other commercial programs, you can use Nvu to create web pages using a WYSIWYG environment, but you still have the option of making changes to the HTML code by switching to code view.
If you have iLife ’06 installed on your computer (it is installed by default on all new Macs or it can be purchased for $79 from Apple), you can use the iWeb program that is included with it to create web pages based on professionally designed templates.
Unlike Nvu and Dreamweaver, iWeb does not make it possible to edit the HTML code for your web pages. In order to edit the HTML code, you have to open pages created with iWeb using another program or a text editor such as TextEdit.