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      Web pages are written in a relatively easy computer language. It is known as HTML, short for HyperText Markup Language. The hypertext concept stems from the Apple Macintosh world. It means mutually connecting text, graphics and other data in a computer file. Simply pointing your mouse to a link and clicking on it, will bring up a different part of the document on your screen. This method is very popular for documenting software. Just think of the help files coming with almost all software.
    It should not be a surprise the CERN has chosen this technique to open up the internet. To make this language as widely accessible as possible, pure ascii text files are uses. HTML was at first hardly comparable to the flexible and versatile hypertext. But that seems to be changing rapidly. Very interesting developments are style sheets and dynamic HTML.
    There are a lot of WYSIWYG editors available today. This approach resembles current word processing software, you are working at the definitive form of the document. Apple users seem to be enthusiastic about Adobe Pagemill. Windows users can choose from Front Page, Netobjects Fusion and Claris Home Page, to name a few. Several other programs have add-ons to enable web page editing. None of these have risen from the experimental stage. Often they are slow, unstable, and very limiting in possibilities. The HTML code they produce is often rubbish.
    At this time there is really no alternative to write directly in HTML. You'll have to get your hands dirty under the bonnet of the web. The basis is very simple, you can learn it in just a few hours. A little programming experience helps a lot, but is not really necessary. A simple home page can be constructed within a day, without any prior knowledge at all. If you want to make pages like the ones I use on this site, you'll have to learn a bit more. Even more so if you want to work with tables, frames and style sheets.
    Take your time to do this. Look for tutorials on HTML on the web and study them. For starters you can use my own HTML tutorial on this site. Other tutorials may be found on the web sites of Netscape, W3C, Web Design Group, NCSA and Hotwired. The HTML reference library makes for very good reading material also. A very comprehensive documentation in a windows help file. You can find it at the TUCOWS site, amongst others. Your ISP is likely to have information on the subject. You may learn a lot from studying the source code of web pages. Most browsers can show this in a separate window.
    Don't be tempted into believing writing good pages is easy. Basic HTML is very simple indeed. But it will take you a long time to make HTML do exactly what you want it to do. You'll find it can be a very crude instrument. You will hardly ever get it right the first time. Sometimes you will have to let go of your ideas, simply because the are not feasible in HTML. You'll also notice HTML will do something else than the HTML standards specifications. You are working with a system that is still very much in development and will show a lot of defects.
    If you want to master HTML the way you should, take a simple text editor. Like Windows Notepad, NoteTab, UltraEdit or Notespad. You'll have to type all the code yourself. It is the best way to learn what every HTML tag and attribute does to the intended page. If you are more familiar with HTML you may consider using a good HTML editor, like FlexED, HomeSite, WebEdit Pro or HotDog. They are all available as shareware. Just try out a few and stick to the one you like most.
    It will take at least a few years for WYSIWYG editors to emerge from the experimental stage. This is a bit strange. The first to publish a reliable editor, will make a fortune. It should not be that difficult in my opinion. Considering what you can do with text processing software like Microsoft or Corel WordPerfect.
    If you start with a WYSIWYG editor, you'll almost certainly throw it away later. And then you won't know HTML. The pages you already made are mostly an unreadable spaghetti of HTML rubbish. And then you still will have to learn HTML and make over everything you made. You had better learn HTML right away. By the time a reliable WYSIWYG editor hits the market, you can always step over to it.
    Write your pages directly in HTML. Take the time to master this crude language. Study tutorials and web pages. Use a simple text editor to make your pages. This way you will lay a solid foundation and be able to show everyone what you want them to see. Designed and laid out the way you want.
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