About Custom Web Pages

By using a variety of tools and techniques, you can create original, custom Web site content. This section introduces you to tools and techniques that assist you in constructing an interactive Web site. Some of the techniques are as simple as cut-and-paste, while others require some knowledge of a scripting language. The following topics are covered:

  • Web Page Authoring
  • Interactive Web Site Content

Web Page Authoring

Web pages can be made in many different ways and can contain a wide variety of content types. This section discusses some of the options for Web page authoring. The following sections are included:

HTML Web Page Formatting

Unlike typical word processor files, Web pages are formatted in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). HTML files are standard text (ASCII) files with special HTML tags inserted to format document attributes, such as font type, paragraph spacing, or background color. You can use HTML to create reference links, called hyperlinks, from your Web page to another place in the same document, or to other Web pages. You do not need to learn HTML to create Web pages. Using a variety of available authoring tools, you can easily create, edit, and publish your Web content.

Which Authoring Tool is Right for You?

When choosing an HTML authoring tool you should consider your level of experience and the type of content you want to publish on your Web page. If you are new to Web page authoring, you may want to use an authoring tool that does not require you to know HTML. Some tools feature a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) user interface similar to those used in word processors, such as Microsoft® Word. This means that if you know how to use a word processor, you can create Web pages. Microsoft® FrontPage™ is a good example of an easy-to-use WYSIWYG editor that has convenient wizards and templates for formatting your document automatically. As you create and edit your Web page, FrontPage displays the page as it would appear in a Web browser.

You can also publish Web pages by converting an existing document into an HTML document. You can import your word processor and spreadsheet files into a converter and quickly turn them into Web pages. However, most converters only add HTML formatting tags to your text and sometimes do not preserve the original appearance of your document. You may find converters especially useful if you need to publish many existing documents that do not need frequent updating. Many word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word, have HTML conversion features.

Using scripting methods, which you can learn more about in the Web Applications section of Personal Web Server Help, and a combination of different tools, you can build dynamic Web sites for intranets and the Internet. Microsoft® Visual InterDev™ is a powerful Web application development tool that you can use to rapidly develop interactive Web sites. Visual InterDev features database tools that make it easy to connect your Web site to Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) compliant databases.

If you choose, you can also create Web pages with a standard text editor, such as Notepad. You can type in the HTML tags and preview your page by saving it, and then opening it in a Web browser. Some experienced users prefer this method. If you choose to create Web pages this way, you need to be familiar with HTML and be prepared to spend time troubleshooting your HTML files. For more information, see Creating a Web Page with a Text Editor.

Multimedia Content and Other File Formats

Your Web page content is not limited to text, tables, and graphics; you can also add items such as sound, and video. However, you will need appropriate software to create and edit those multimedia files. With programs such as Microsoft® NetShow™ (available for Windows NT only), you can easily add real-time sound and video to your Web page.

Using HTML, you can also create links to almost any other file format, including Microsoft® Office files. However, remote users must have the correct Web browsers and programs to view the non-HTML files. For example, if you know that all remote users will have Microsoft® Excel and Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 or later, you can include links to a Microsoft Excel worksheet. When the user clicks the link, the document appears in Microsoft Excel on the user’s computer.

Interactive Web Site Content

Today, most commercial Internet sites use sophisticated, interactive Web pages to provide users with more informative and engaging types of content. These Web pages, often described as Web applications, incorporate processing programs, called scripts, that can retrieve information in response to user requests. For example, a typical Web application uses an entry form to collect a user’s request, retrieves relevant information from a database, and returns the information to the user.

PWS includes two interactive applications as options. These are the message drop box and guest book options. The drop box makes it possible for visitors to leave messages that only you can view. The guest book allows visitors to leave messages that are displayed on a Web page linked to your site, so all visitors can view them. These options work by displaying a form to visitors, and then storing the data collected in a database. You view the contents of the database in another Web page. If you have a program capable of viewing a Microsoft Access database file, you can also view the contents of the database in that program instead of in a Web page.

You can create your own interactive form that inserts and deletes information in a data source. PWS includes a sample Microsoft Access database and the PWS documentation includes a sample script and customization instructions so you can produce Web pages that interact with the database. You do not need to know HTML or a scripting language. The customizing is done by cut-and-paste techniques. You do not need to have Microsoft Access installed on your computer to use the sample database. For more information, see Constructing an Interactive Form.

If you need to create a larger database, want to use Microsoft SQL Server, or need to access stored data source procedures, you can learn more in Accessing a Database.

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