Teach Yourself HTM Programming

Hi there! This page is for the many of you who have learned everything they know on Microsoft PCs. You probably browse the Web (well, you found this page, didn't you?) but wonder what it takes to make your own Web pages. Well, to do this, you need to learn HTM, and it's not that hard!

If you're an expert HTM programmer, most of this page will be review, sorry. But there are some good tips on how to encourage your visitors to use IE.

HyperText Markup (HTM) is the lingua franca of the Web - it tells your browser what a Web page contains and how to display it.

HTM is pretty primitive; there's not much control over layout and the fonts look pretty bad. If the people who set up the Web had thought to use Microsoft's Rich Text Format, we'd all be better off... but we've got to work with what's there.

Most of the Web pages you see are just text files, with the special HTM extension. For example, a guestbook page would be called GUESTBOO.HTM. A good name for the Declaration of Independence on-line would be DECOFIND.HTM. You get the idea.

Tools you'll need

You'll need the following things before you start: Sometimes the last one is the hardest. Who wants to put up a Web page without a reason? If you're stuck, here are some starters:

Getting started

Fire up FrontPage and select File | New. FP will create what it calls a new "Web", short for web site. Your website has to have a main page, usually called INDEX.HTM. Let's work on that first.

A Sample Page

We'll create a quick page to show you how it's done, then talk about some design issues. Click in the INDEX.HTM window and type the following:
My name is Stone Phillips (replace with your name). Welcome to my Home Page!
I'm using Microsoft FrontPage.
This page is best viewed with Internet Explorer.

More to come; this site is Under Construction!

Email me at:
(Now enter a new Link with "mailto:" followed by your e-mail address, which is probably your username@aol.com).

Play around with fonts, sizes, and colors if you like. Then click File | Save. Now click View. Your page will open up in Internet Explorer. How does it look? Okay. Now let's talk about some ways to make your pages look good on the Web.


Lots of Web page designers don't put much thought into their fonts. Some even let the web browser decide what font to use! How is some average guy surfing the Web gonna know what font is best for your site? Of course not!

So always specify a font for the text you lay down. Good choices are the good old Arial and Times New Roman; but for variety, you can use Comic Sans MS, Britannic Bold, or Brush Script. If the person viewing your website doesn't have those fonts, their loss. (But you can explain on the page what fonts they need to get).

Browser choice

Not everyone is using Internet Explorer, which will complicate things for you, because other browsers show your page in slightly different ways. You can help out your visitors by including a "Best Viewed with Internet Explorer" image link.

Foiling Enemy Browsers

Your page can also send a subtle message to Web surfers: Get with the (Internet Explorer) Program! Later, when you learn about Javascript, you'll find a way to make areas on your site (or the whole thing!) accessible only to Explorer. Other browsers will get an error message, or nothing at all! Pretty cool, huh?

If you don't know Javascript, you can do something else right now: open INDEX.HTM with Notepad and insert <BLINK> at the beginning and </BLINK> at the end. Save the file. (You might have to rename the file if Notepad saves it as INDEX.HTM.TXT). Now Netscape will make the whole page blink at you, while Explorer displays it correctly. Ha!

Java vs. ActiveX

You've probably heard all the hype over Java, the language created by Sun Microsystems. It is pretty cool for Web animations, counters, and other little things, but its days are numbered.

For real power, you'll want to go with ActiveX, which isn't tied down by the least-common-denominator syndrome of "open" standards, or the crippling security protections. With ActiveX, you can do a lot more with your Web pages. It's an advanced topic, but you'll definitely want to look into it.

Web counters

You definitely want one of these. These magic things appear on your web page and show everyone how many "hits" you get. I'm always impressed when I see a site with a lot of hits.

Animated GIFs

These are the little movies that automatically move in your browser. They'll make your page more fun and attractive than most of the stale old pages out there. They're like AVI's, but their extension is GIF. You don't need to be Michaelangelo to make one; just look on the Web for one you like and copy it.

So what animated GIFs should you get? A requirement for cool sites is the "Under construction" sign with the digging guy. You also must - MUST - have an animated mailbox for your e-mail link. The rest is up to you


There are lots of "Top 5%" award sites out there. Tell them about your site! If you don't get awards right away, just copy their logos and put them up anyway. Who's gonna know? In the meantime, make sure and tell people to vote for your site in whatever awards are still active.


Interactivity is what the Web's all about, right? So make sure and get one of those free guestbook programs for your site. On every page, encourage viewers to sign your guestbook.

Advanced Design

Eventually, you'll want to rise above a simple "homepage" to a portal, which is a destination on the Web. How do you do this? Get a large graphic (at least 100K) image for your INDEX.HTM, and put a link to INDEX2.HTM called "Enter". Then put all your content on INDEX2.HTM. This gives the visitor the "doorway" experience as they actually enter your site.

Uploading your "Web"

Okay, enough design talk. Let's get your page on the Web! The web's not exactly like your hard drive (the W: drive? :-) so you can't do File | Save. You use an Internet program called FTP to do this. FTP's a pain to learn, so it's best to ask someone who already knows FTP, like your ISP. Call 'em up (but don't turn on your modem yet! :-)

Also ask your ISP what your URL will be. It's like a file name on a Windows NT network, which has the server name built in. It'll probably be something like http://members.aol.com/~(your username)/INDEX.HTM. It's really freaky that instead of backslashes, the Web uses a nonstandard slash to delimit directory names. Why they would ignore what 90% of the world uses is incomprehensible to me, but that's the way it is.

Anyway, once the file's up, do File | Open Location in Explorer and type in your URL. Voila - your page!

If your page doesn't show up, check the spelling. If that's not the reason, disconnect, call your ISP and make sure they have FrontPage Extensions installed. This is Microsoft software that fills in some of the deficiencies in the Internet and makes your pages look better.

So now you're on the Web - how do you tell people about your page? Most of the major search engines have page submission sites, so you can go there. An even better idea is to call them on the phone, because sometimes they get a little behind in their email. Also, post in as many newsgroups as you can. You'd be surprised who'll be interested. The last thing you can do is e-mail everyone in your Address Book.

Now that you're online, watch the hits pile up. And maybe you're ready for a lucrative career change - to HTM Programmer!

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Last modified: Sat Feb 20 00:46:40 GMT 1999
Oh yeah, this is all satire. Sorry if I got you upset... Back to civilization: http://www.kurumi.com