Creating Web (html) documents

HTML (hypertext markup language) is the generic format for web pages. Files or documents in this format should always have the extension .html or .htm. Creating such documents used to be rather complicated and required a good deal of effort to learn the skills. Now, to create complex web pages (with graphics, sound, live video, etc.) still requires considerable skill, but creating basic web pages has become very simple. Everyone who has mastered basic WordPerfect or MS Word, can create web documents with just a few additional clicks on the mouse.

Software requirements and Hunter availability

However, you must use version 7 or 8 of both WordPerfect and MS Word (running under Win95) to enjoy this convenience. At Hunter, we do have a site license for WordPerfect -- though several labs are still lagging behind in installing the current version 8 of WP (available since early summer of 1997), but -- as of spring 98 -- most labs now have at least version 7 installed. Faculty are currently still required to pay a $40 fee to obtain an individual copy of WP8 for either office or home use. This is a few dollars cheaper than the educational price available from many mail order outfits, like Surplus Direct.

Hunter does not have a site license for MS Word, though many Gateway computer bought by the college come bundled with MS Office which includes MS Word. Chances are, if you got a new office computer lately, you have MS Word 7/8 on your machine. For some strange reason (my suspicion is that MS wants to trick you into buying another more elaborate product like MS FrontPage), Internet support (easy conversion to html format) is not part of the default installation. So, you must find the software CD for MS Office 97 and amend the installation process, selecting the Internet support option in the process. Not a big deal, but an unnecessary pain.

Properly installed, both WP and MS Word allow you to convert existing documents (like your syllabus from last year) into html format, modify existing html documents, or create new documents that can flexibly be saved in either the standard word processor or html format (details below).

Another option for creating new documents, is to use the Netscape Composer which is part of the Netscape Communicator suite. (Also, currently not installed in several of Hunter labs.) This is a rather convenient way to create web documents, but not as simple as using WP or MS Word. In fairness, however, the automatic conversion that WP and MS Word offer is not perfect and the anal-compulsive among you may be left unhappy since you are unlikely to end up with some extra blank space, a font size not quite to your liking, etc. However, if contents is much more important to you than form, both WP and MS Word are doing a good job.

How to do it (Details)

To convert an existing WP document to html format using version 8 (there may be slight differences in version 7):

  1. Open the document as usual
  2. Click on File > Internet publisher > Format as web document > ok  (you may lose some formatting, but nothing basic)
  3. Edit the document as usual (the background has turned gray and you have a few more, html specific editing option) if necessary; most likely, you will want to take out some extra blank lines
  4. Click on File > Internet publisher > Publish to HTML > ok (a copy of the original file is saved in html format; by default with the same name, but with the extension .htm instead)
To convert an existing MS Word document to html format using version 8 (Word97):
  1. Open the document as usual
  2. Click on File > Save as HTML  (you see this option only after you have installed Internet support)
  3. Edit the document as usual (at this point the file is not really 'saved' = written to disk, only a copy in a different format is generated)  if desired
  4. Click on File > Save (a copy of the original file is saved in html format; by default with the same name, but with the extension .htm instead)
That's all! Both programs also give you an option to preview how the file would look as displayed  by a web browser ("web preview"), so you can decide whether you want to make (cosmetic) changes or not. After having saved the file to your (hard) disk, you can upload this html document to your course page. Going this little extra step has two big advantages: