If you've surfed the web, chances are you've seen at least a few pages that made you think "I could do better than that." But how?
For many people, the thought of anything to do with the Internet seems technical and frightening - all together much more like computer programming than it should be - but that really needn't be the case with Web pages.
Over the three parts of this tutorial, we'll be looking at all the important aspects of writing your own web pages, and by the time you've read this part, you'll be able to create simple pages.
Pages on the Web are written in a language called HTML - the HyperText Markup Language. Don't worry if the thought of a language sounds intimidating; HTML isn't really a programming language. If you've ever used the 'tags' facility in a DTP program like Quark or Ventura, you'll be able to understand HTML easily.
An HTML document just consists of the text with tags that tell a browser how the text should appear on the screen, or to do specific things, like draw a horizontal line. To make a web page, all you need to do is write the words and then add tags to say how you want them to appear - just like writing a page in your word processor and then selecting which lines are headings, or which words appear in bold.
In fact, there are now programs that really do make writing web pages that simple, including add-ons for WordPerfect and Microsoft Word, so all you'll have to do is point and click. So why spend three months learning how it works? There are a couple of reasons. First, not all the tools designed to help you write web pages can do all the things that you might want to and second, you'll be able to write much better web pages if you understand what's really happening.
When you design your web pages, remember that you don't have complete control over how things will look. Unlike PostScript, HTML isn't a 'page description language' - it's a 'markup' language. What that means is that, while a PostScript document might contain commands to print text in 24 point Times bold, you can't do that in HTML. Instead you can say 'this is a heading.' If the person reading it has told their web browser to display headings in 24 point Times bold, that's what they'll see, but they could just as easily set it to anything else that they like. So, no matter how much effort you put into your pages, they could look very different when someone else looks at them later.