The Web: Homepage Authoring


Critical references are available on both HTML and VRML including the language specifications, FAQs, and beginners' guides.

Site-Specific Information

One can create a homepage on either the PC or Unix side of the network. This document only discusses the Unix side in any detail, although references for the PC side may be available.

The examples below use username to represent the account name; this should be replaced by the actual user account name throughout.

The webpage of a given user is accessible through a URL (a Uniform Resource Locator), constructed from the document type, the webserver hostname, and the username. Note the tilde "~" before the username and the trailing slash "/" after.

All web documents for the given user will be sought in that user's home directory, subdirectory "www" (as in /home/username/www ).

How to Get Started

  1. Set your current working directory to be your home directory with:
  2. Make a listing with:
    ls -lF
  3. If you see a line like the following, then you already have a pointer out to the directory for your webpages.
    0 lrwxrwxrwx 1 username username 46 2009-02-18 18:17 www -> /on/airgiodlamh/fs/d1/home-www/username/public/
    The unusual link above, named www, redirects all attempts to use it to /on/airgiodlamh/fs/d1/home-www/username/public/, where the real webpage area is maintained.
  4. If you don't have a www directory, contact staff. Simply creating a www in your home directory won't work, since the web server will look for your webpages a directory like /on/airgiodlamh/fs/d1/home-www/username/public/ - the www in your home directory is just a user convenience.
  5. Presumably, you can now see the directory in a listing like:
    ls -lF
  6. Move (a metaphor for setting your current working directory) into your www directory with:
    cd www
  7. Execute the following command to create a really short file to allow verification that your webpage area is visible (note that this is actually missing a number of required HTML tags; see the introduction to HTML below):
    echo Hello World > hello.html
  8. Test it by visiting your webpage with a webclient (also called a browser) like Netscape. Replace the word username below with your Unix login name to get your HTTP address, then feed that to your webclient as the document to open:
    By way of example, combining my login name of erlkonig with a subdirectory (subfolder) name of writings and a file in that subdirectory of programmer-beekeeping.html would yield a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of:
    Which would be stored in: /home/erlkonig/www/writings/programmer-beekeeping.html
  9. Your homepage URL has the following form, where username is replaced with your Unix login name:
    By default, a dynamic index of your www directory is shown, unless a file (or link) named index.html already exists (various other extensions are also looked for, like .shtml and .php, for example), in which case its HTML contents are displayed instead. This can be used to make a default, non-indexing page for a directory, incidentally hiding whatever is actually there.
  10. You can update the homepages list to reflect your having a web directory by typing your login name at the entry box near the bottom of
  11. Now that your have verified the visibility of your webpage, you should investigate the details of HTML, so that your webpage can contain more sophisticated information. You should also strive for correctness, since it's frustrating when the first thing your friend (or potential client) says upon visiting your webpage is "You don't know HTML yet, do you...". Note also that incorrect HTML may very well not display on a given webclient, or display very differently from how you intended.

Introduction, Examples and Annotations

The overall canonical form of a homepage follows certain guidelines of HTML design which will make your document more likely to be displayed correctly on the many disparate HTML viewers with may be used. Angle-bracketed markups (like "<body>") are characteristic of HTML. Notice that HTML markups are case-independent, so it does not matter if they're spelled in upper, lower, or mixed case, although the last is considered strange. Indentation is also generally ignored.

The basic form is below. All of your content goes in the two places where you see "...".

<html> <head> ... </head> <body> ... </body> </html>
Look for this skeleton in the examples.

The Example Homepage

A completed webpage (minus commentary) has been provided as beginner.html. Go take a look at it, and while you're there, use the menu item View/Source (or just View) to see the HTML source, then come back here.

The Annotated Homepage

Now look at the Example Homepage, which you should have just perused, and ideally should have showing in another window. Use Control-U or the View->Source menu item to see the source code.

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