Friday, September 09, 2005

Personal Pages: The Web, Your Way (Part 3: Content, etc)

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You've been learning html, and have survived the process, since you are reading this. Congratulations. So you have some shiny new html skills, and you are eager to use them. A wonderful and interesting way to do so is to make your very own personal page (or pages). You can include almost literally anything you can imagine (eventually, as your skills improve, so will your page!)

The first step was to download a template, which came in a zipped file containing an index.html page and a css page. I unzipped the file, and opened the index.html page in my browser and displayed its source code in my text editor. (I've detailed how to do this below, so keep reading...)

I originally began with a single Start Page, and it had a lot of different links and resources I use all the time on it. Just as I thought I was done with it, a suggestion was made that I could actually create several pages, still stored in a folder on my hard drive, and link them together. (I link the pages together by using an (< a href="title of my page.html">page display name< /a> )string in the source code page for my main page to link to others. Check out the html tutorial for the exact format of this string.) That opened up lots of new space and vast potential.

I took some time to search for various components such as javascripts and other resources and links I knew I wanted to include, then saved that information in folders so that it was easy to find and quickly accessible when I was ready to work with it by putting links on my pages or adding it via scripts. Be careful to "set limits" for yourself with this step; the internet is a vast place, and without some kind of cap, you will "never" finish finding neat "toys" to include!

I kept my main or "index page" and opened it to the source code page and simply retitled the page and saved it as an html document. I repeated this process for each of my other pages, one at a time. To open the index page in Firefox, I choose File>>Open File, then browse to the directory (folder) where the file "index.html" is stored, and click "open". Voila! the page appears in my browser. If I need to edit the index.html file, I do so in my text editor, then save the edits. I come back to my browser and simply reload/refresh the page, and my edits appear. Use this same process to open/edit/view any of your other pages; just browse to where they are stored and select their file names, instead of "index.html".

My index page: For the main page, I asked myself what I most needed or wanted to have immediate access to at any given moment. So, this page includes links and information I use constantly. The point is to keep things well organized and orderly, in an attractive "package", which is the page itself. I have a site index, listing all of my current pages in a clickable menu. I have some of my favorite places online similarly available with one click. There are links for RSS feeds in one section; starting page links for sites such as Start.com in another. Many of Yahoo.com's services are available in another section of the page, grouped together for ease of use. I have the weather from a couple of sources displayed in a section of its own; Google resources; work-related links; sections for frequently accessed download sites and search engines plus search boxes for Yahoo, Google and even Yahoo and Google combined. There is a section for online magazines and periodicals I enjoy; links for my blogs, even a monthly calendar. I have a To-Do List, which acts as a type of weekly calendar. All of this content is on a single page. You can imagine how much time that saves...but wait! There's more...

Another entire page is set aside for all of my bookmarks. These can be quickly and easily updated when desired. No more loss of bookmarks! Similarly, I have a page to hold an index of my software CD's and the CD keys. (Since the page is not online, I have no anxiety about doing this because I do use security procedures on my computer. This single page has already been a huge help; it prevents me from needing to search for an elusive CD key if I need to re-install registerd software.) Web Design links and information get another page; blogging and related resources yet another. I have one page for a monthly appointment calendar, and another for a yearly calendar. I have a page just to keep track of the freeware and downloaded software I use; this way, I don't have to wonder what that cool piece of software was! As you can see, you can include nearly anything you like on your page(s); let your imagination and personal needs be your guide to deciding what, if any, other pages you want to create. I've even used Javascripts from Javascript.com to implement some of the features (like the calendars) on my pages. The scripts come with installation instructions, and like the other resources mentioned in this series, they are free.

A few of the benefits of having personal pages:
--information can be collected, displayed and stored in a manner that makes sense to you. It is highly customizable and can be edited at any time.

--you do not need to pay for a server to be able to view your pages; they open withing your browser. You can of course choose to host any pages you desire online if you like.

--you can include information you may not want others to have access to, since the pages are not online. Use security procedures of course.

--you have offline as well as online access to your pages.

--you have another outlet for your individual creativity, and you can experience seeing your pages "happen" before your eyes and under your fingertips. Pretty powerful!

And...It is FUN!