About Web Sites

In today’s busy world, businesses and individuals are constantly looking for better, faster, and more convenient ways to share information. Web sites are a way of sharing information with others in your office or around the world. This topic acquaints you with basic information about how computer networks, Web sites, and browsers work, and what you must do to host a Web site on your computer.

The sections covered are:

What is a Web Site?

A Web site is a location on a computer network that makes information in the form of pages or documents available to visitors reaching the site with browser software. The computer network can be the world-wide Internet, or an intranet, a local network linking all the computers in your office. The information can be published in the form of HTML pages, or in other document formats. To view the information available on the site, visitors use browser software programs, such as Microsoft® Internet Explorer, which translate HTML pages on Web sites to text and graphics on their monitors.

If you are already sharing documents across your intranet with your co-workers, why do you need a Web site? To share documents on your network, co-workers must have the same software program on their computers as you used to create the document. In addition, there can be operating-system differences that make it impossible for a computer with one kind of operating system to retrieve a document across the network from a computer with a different operating system. If you convert the document to HTML and publish it on your Web site, then visitors are not required to have the same software program used to create the document to view its content, or the same operating system.

Although PWS uses the same technology to host Web sites as the Web servers at large sites such as www.microsoft.com, PWS has very limited capacity. PWS is suitable for personal publishing on corporate intranets. The 10-connection limit of PWS means that it can support no more than two or three visitors at a time, so it is not suitable for direct Internet publishing. However, you can develop your site on PWS, including items such as complex Web applications, and test thoroughly before sending your site to an ISP for hosting.

What is a Home Page?

When visitors reach a Web site using a browser, they typically see a home page, which usually welcomes visitors to the site. The home page is a document in HTML format that usually describes the content available on the site, and may include personal information about the author of the site. Additional information provided might include news about the department or company the author works for, links to other documents available on the same Web site, or links to other Web sites with related content.

The primary function of a home page is to help visitors easily navigate your Web site. To do this, home pages must be visually appealing, logically organized, and provide useful information. In the world of home pages, less is more. The home page wizard helps you create a simple, clear welcome page for your Web site. For more information on using this wizard, see Making a Home Page Automatically. For information about creating a home page by using a text editor, see Customizing Your Web Site.

What is HTML?

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It is a world-wide standard way of using embedded code, or “tags,” to indicate the formatting that should be applied to text. For instance, to get the word hello to appear in boldface type as it is here, the text file the browser reads must include the following tags: hello. The Web page author can create a plain text file and insert tags to create a page viewable by a browser, regardless of which operating system the browser the runs on. This cross-platform ability makes HTML an ideal way to exchange information between otherwise incompatible computer systems.

The drawbacks of HTML are that the tags are somewhat unwieldy to use, and the author cannot always predict what the resulting page looks like in a visitor’s browser. While most HTML tags in use can be translated by all browsers, some tags have been developed that can only be processed by specific brands of browsers. If you use these tags on your site, visitors may not see the page the way you do. Converting a large number of documents to HTML can be time consuming and inconvenient, particularly if the documents are regularly updated in their native format. To ease the transition to HTML, many word processing programs now offer automatic translation to HTML, but the results can be unpredictable. For more information about HTML tags, visit the Web site of the World Wide Web Consortium, the international organization responsible for HTML standards.

Can Documents be Published in Other Formats?

You can publish documents on your Web site in any format you choose. However, for formats other than HTML, your visitors must have a software program capable of viewing that document format, or they are unable to see the file content. If you know that everyone visiting your site is using compatible versions of the same word processing or spreadsheet application, you can make documents immediately available for viewing without converting them to HTML. All you need to do is provide a link to the document. The link should be displayed on your home page, so visitors can easily navigate to the document. If you use the publishing wizard included in PWS, a read-only copy of the document is placed in the Webpub directory, and a link to the document is automatically placed on your home page. For more information on how to publish documents, see Publishing Documents on Your Site.

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