Web Pages for Secretaries and Administrators

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The Computer Science Department will function more efficiently if it moves its business off paper as much as possible and onto computers, especially the Web. Everyone in the Department is familiar with and uses email, and the Web will be as much of an improvement over previous ways of doing business as was email over paper memos.

We will not accomplish this goal by hiring Web specialists, who will take information from the rest of us and make and modify Web pages. Instead everyone in the Department who originates or modifies information of any kind should be able to modify Web pages and even create them.

Every function of the Department, e.g. Admissions, space allocation, advising, CSD-CF, should have a page accessible from the Department page and maintained by the people responsible for that activity. Besides that, everyone should have his or her own Web page containing everything that other people need to know about this person's job. Current activities and deadlines should be described.

In this memorandum, we will not describe using the Web, i.e. navigating around. We concentrate on making and modifying Web pages.

Making and Modifying Simple Web Pages

1. Since the World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee about 3 years ago, it has proliferated throughout the world. Computer scientists and hackers have invented many elaborations. CSD graduate students have taken up and used many of these elaborations, sometimes to the bewilderment of CSD faculty. The elaborations are useful and the results make pretty pages that can be used by anyone. However, if you look at the source file of a fancy Web page, you will not understand it readily. The fancy devices are for the use of enthusiasts, and the rest of us have to skip most of them if we are to maintain control over our own pages. If you look at the source of this page, you will see that I have kept to a bare minimum of Web constructs. For example, I used numbers for the list including this paragraph rather than the convenient list forming constructs of the html language.

2. To make a Web page, you create its source file with a text editor and put it in an area where other people's browsers can see it, i.e. not in your private files. These files are called .html files. You then put a link to your new page in the source files of other existing pages or you get the owners of the other pages to put links in. You can also tell people the URL (Universal Resource Locator) of the page. Once the source file is created put in a publicly accessible place, other peeople can see it. If you click on source in the View menu when you are looking at this page, you will see its source.

You can create a Web page source with an ordinary text editor, but some editors have special features to make Web page creation and editing easier. For example, the Xemacs and FSF Emacs editors have HTML modes that they activated whenever they see a file whose name ends in .html. Since different text editors have different facilities to make it easier to make .html files, we will not base this manual on any one of them..

3. The constructs needed to make usable Web pages are the following:

a. The paragraph terminator. This is needed to terminate paragraphs, because the Web browsers, e.g. Netscape, pay no attention to line breaks. It is written <P>.

b. Line break. It does the same, but doesn't make a blank line. It is written <br>.

c. Headers. There are various sizes. 1 is largest and 6 is smallest. I only use 1, 2, and 3. It is written <H2>TEXT OF THE HEADER</H2> when the header is of size 2.

d. Link to another Web page or to a place in a Web page. A plain link is written , References in the source file but looks like , References in the Web page itself.

e. Anchor. This puts a marker wherever you want in a Web page that links from elsewhere can go to.

f. Comment. Some text in the source of a Web page that will not appear on the page itself. Used by the writer and modifiers of the page for making notes.

g. Title. Web pages should have titles at the top.

This Web page uses only the above mentioned constructs with two exceptions. The first is an email address in a form in which clicking on it gives you a form for sending me email. Not every page needs that. The second is a hit counter that enables one to see how often the page has been referenced. I wanted that. It is magic in the sense that I have never bothered to try to understand it. Tom Costello put it in one of my Web pages, and I have copied it to new pages I create, making a change only in the date and the name of the page.

Experts will notice one major omission - forms for people to fill out. The omission is intentional, because forms are an advanced topic. Moreover, once made, they usually require a lot of debugging, because the users of the forms rarely behave exactly according to the plans of the designer of the forms.

I Comments are welcome, and you can send them by clicking on jmc@cs.stanford.edu

The number of hits on this page since 1996 Jan 10.