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Creating and editing Web Pages with Netscape Gold

ByAlan Zisman 2000 

Netscape Gold is a version of Netscape Navigator 3.0 that includes e-mail and web page editing functions. Versions exist for Windows 3.1, Windows 95/98/NT, and Macintosh. Netscape Version 4.0 replaced Netscape Gold with the Communicator suite, including the Composer web page editor program.

Netscape Gold/Composer lacks advanced web page editing features, but it has several worthwhile features

  • it’s free
  • it’s available in more or less identical Windows 3.1. 95, and Mac versions
  • it’s relatively simple to use—no knowledge of HTML code is needed.

With its relatively modest size and requirements, Netscape Gold remains a reasonable choice for older PCs and Macs and can still be downloaded from:http://home.netscape.com/download/archive/client_archive3x.html -- be sure to choose Navigator Gold rather than the basic Navigator version.

To edit an existing web page, open in Navigator Gold, then choose File/Edit Document. If the web page is on the Internet, you’ll be prompted to save it first. To create a new web page, choose File/New Document—then Blank. Either way, your Netscape toolbar will change to give to several rows of editing tools—many of which will be familiar to word processing users:

Toolbars

To create a web page, you need to know about how web pages handle text, images, and links.

Text:

While a web page may look like a word processor document, it has far fewer options. There’s no way of knowing what fonts will exist on the computer that’s viewing a page, so a basic web page won’t define fonts or sizes directly. Instead, basic styles are defined: Heading 1 (for a large headline), Heading 2 (for a subhead), Normal, etc. (While you can define exact fonts and sizes, resist the temptation—too often they will end up looking different from what you expect—instead, use the basic styles from the drop-down list).As well, spacing, tabs, and carriage returns (enter) work differently on web pages— not as you may expect. Pressing Enter, for example, skips two lines, creating a new paragraph. (A trick—pressing Shift+Enter goes to a new line without creating a new parapgraph).

Other text options: Bold/Italic/Underline, Right-Align/Center-Align work as word processor users might expect. Also useful are toolbar buttons for bulleted and numbered lists.

Images:

If you insert an image in a word processing document, the image is included in the single word processing file. When you insert an image in a web page, you’re just adding a bit of text pointing to where the image is located. Images in web pages need to be in one of several special Internet-friendly formats—GIF, JPEG, or PNG. You may want to get a program that will allow you to convert and manipulate graphics—Windows 95/98 users may want the free Irfanview, Mac users may like the shareware (US$29) Graphics Converter, Win 3.1 users may get a copy of the shareware Graphics Workshop. (Check my webpage at:http://www/zisman.ca/files for links to these and other useful programs).

As a result, if you send your web page to an Internet server, you need to also send any associated graphics—and then check to make sure that the links to the graphics actually work as expected.

Large graphics take a long time to appear on a page—you may be better off to include small versions of your graphics, linking them to larger, optional versions. (Hint: resizing the image on the page doesn’t help—you still end up downloading the big original, then resizing on your computer, saving no time. Instead, use your graphics program to save a smaller version of the image, and insert that in your page).

Links:

Anything can function as a link—text or graphics. To make something a link, select it, and click on thet  Link tool in the toolbar. You’ll be asked to type in an address for the link and other information (more on that later!) If you’re linking to an external web page, type the entire address:http://www.vsb.bc.ca rather than just www.vsb.bc.ca. (If you forget the 'http://', the link will work when tested on your computer, but not after you send the page up to the Internet). If you’re linking to another file, the easiest thing is to keep it in the same directory (aka folder) as your saved web page, and simply give the filename. (These linked files can be other web pages, but also sound, picture, or video clips).

Because text-web links are normally underlined, don’t ever underline any other (non-link) text on a web page—you’ll just confuse your readers.

Neat trick—you can also link to things that aren’t web pages—large versions of pictures, music files, files for downloading, etc… just type the path and file names and the files will display, play, or download automatically.

To make a link to an e-mail address, type it like this:     mailto:someone@somewhere.com
(Note: posting your email address online is likely to get you lots of spam messages!)

When a user clicks on that link, it will open an e-mail program, with that address already entered.

Let’s Do It!

We’re starting with a Netscape Gold blank page, by choosing File/New/Blank from the menu. Let’s start off by defining our colours—that dull grey background is boring. Click on the Properties/Document menu.

Document Properties dialogue box

Give your page a title, and fill in the Author and Description information. Keywords are used by search engines to help classify your page. Click on the Appearance tab.

Appearance dialogue box

Let’s chance that ugly grey background default colour by clicking on the Background button. You’ll get a palette of colour choices, and can click to create a custom colour.

If you’ve picked a dark colour, normal or linked text may not be very legible—so change them if needed. You can also pick a background image—browse for a graphic file that will appear, tiled, throughout your page. This only works well with a very washed-out picture (you can use your image-editing program for this), so most times, avoid temptation with this feature as well!

The Advanced tab has nothing that we care (or know!) about. So click OK when you’re done.

Enter Some Text:

Click on the down-arrow next to ‘Normal’ on the middle toolbar font-style boxto change the style—pick ‘Heading 1’ for a headline. Then click on the Center Align tool to move the cursor to the center of the page: Centre-align button Type a headline for your page, then press Enter. Notice that the style goes back to ‘Normal’—the way you’ll type most of your text. Click on the Left-Align tool. Left-align button

Type a few lines of text. Alternatively, you can Copy/Paste text from some other source.

Add a Graphic:

When you insert a graphic, it appears where the text cursor is. Text doesn’t word-wrap around graphics—you only get a single line of text beside a graphic (there are tricks to fake your way around that—we’ll see them soon). So press Enter once, then click the Center Align tool to move the cursor to the middle of a new line. Click on the Insert Image tool: Insert image button

(You’ll be asked to save your page prior to inserting the graphic. Do it!)

You’ll see:

Image properties dialogue box

Click on the Browse button to select a graphic.

Be sure to fill a description in the Alternative representation—Text area, This text will appear if graphics are turned off, or for people with visual disabilities browsing with text-only browsers. If you know the graphics dimensions (from your image editing program), entering them will speed up page loading. Note that you can choose how text will align around your graphic (but the last two wrap options don’t work the way we might want!)

 Be sure to leave the [x] Copy image to document’s location option checked.

You can change in image’s properties by right-clicking on it, and selecting Image Properties from the popup menu.

Create a Link:

Type some text that you want to turn into a link. For example, type the phrase:

Alan’s Tech Mentor Page.

Select it with the mouse, and click on the Link tool: Link button You’ll see:

Link Properties dialogue box

Type in the full address to the page—http://411.vsb.bc.ca/itmentor/alan and click OK.

If you want to link to a file on your hard drive—for instance, another saved web page, a larger graphic, a music file, etc, use the Browse File button to locate the file. (You’ll need to play with the List Files of Type options to select a non-webpage file).

You can make a graphic into a link by clicking to select it, then clicking on the Link tool, just as with text.

Tables—the Big Secret Trick

The Table tool: Insert table button lets you do lots of neat things. You can line up text in various ways, or fake having text and graphics wrap in more complex designs.

When you click on the button to create a table, you’ll be asked to define the table’s properties:

Table properties dialogue box

Note that Rows go across, Columns go up and down.

Keep a border of 1 pixel (or more) while you’re working on a table—afterwards, if you want, you can change it to 0 pixels to make the border invisible. After you’ve created your table, you can add text and pictures to the individual cells, which will expand to hold the contents.

You can change the properties of the whole table, or an individual row or cell by right-clicking on the table (or cell) and choosing Table, then another option from the popup menu. That menu also lets you delete the entire table, or insert or delete individual rows or columns if you change your mind. A neat trick, from the Table/Cell options is to have an individual cell span 2 or more columns.

You can even insert a table inside a cell of an existing table for real complexity. Most of the sophisticated designs you see on the Web use some fancy tricks with tables to line things up.

Other tools:

View page in Navigator buttom             Opens your page in the Navigator browser so you can see how it will really look. You’ll need to save first.

List buttons     Makes bulleted and numbered lists. Each time you press Enter, you get a new bullet (or the next number)

Move indentation buttons   Moves the indentation of the entire paragraph out or in.

Change font size buttons    Decreases or Increases the font size by one unit.

Change font size          Changes the font size of selected text—larger or smaller.

Text colour button              Changes the colour of selected text.

Insert a target button             Inserts a target at the cursor point… this is a bookmark—a point that you can link to, to move within a large page—useful for tables of contents.

Horizontal line button              Adds a horizontal line across the page

Edit properties button               Lets you edit the properties of the current selection.

Search for text button             Lets you search for text on the page.

Publish your web page button             To ‘publish’ your web page—sending the page and associated graphics (etc) to a web server. Note that this can’t be used with many web servers—you’ll need a separate FTP program instead.

That’s it! Good luck and have fun.

Web Page Creation and Maintenance:
Before you begin- an Introduction 
Using Netscape Composer to create web pages 
Webpage Creation hands-on practice 
Using Netscape Gold to create web pages
Adding sounds and music to your webpages
  new!
Using WS_FTP to upload and maintain your web pages
Making web animations with free tools new!
Tricks of the trade: Extend Composer with hand coding new!

Static Web page info
Cheapest web hosting
Web development service
Google

Search WWW Search www.zisman.ca



Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan