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Go to Bottom Nav - March 20, 2019 - No exercises at this time - ERRORblah Happy Holidays and Semester Break!

Web Pages - Text Files

In the simplest terms, (X)HTML web pages are nothing more than text files which reside on the hard drive of a web server.

When you click on a link on a web page or type a URL into your web browser and press enter, your computer sends a request over the Internet to the web server. The web server sends a copy of the (X)HTML file back to your computer where your computer stores it and your browser interprets the code and displays the web page.

Text File Details

HTML files that we will be creating are technically ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) text files. This means you are limited to the characters on your keyboard that you type normally or those accessed in conjunction with the shift key. The only exception is the & (ampersand).

This factor limits you when you need a character which has an accent mark such as the é (e acute) in résumé; characters normally accessed using the alt/option key. You will be using code that starts with an & to use these special characters.

Applications for Creating ASCII Files

A text editor is the preferred application for writing HTML pages. Their files are saved in the ASCII format which is desired. The operating system of your choice already has text editor(s) built in; NotePad (PC/Windows) or TextEdit (Mac OS X). If you are using TextEdit on your Mac; make sure to select "plain text" in its preferences. It is highly recommended that you download a dedicated text editor to make your life easier! There are many excellent text editors available on the common computer platforms, many are free.

Refrain from writing your HTML code in a word processing application like MS Word, MS Works, AppleWorks, WordPerfect, ClarisWorks, WordPad, and so on. If you do, you must deliberately tell the word processor to save the file as "text." Otherwise, there will be some "invisible" formatting characters included in your code that will thoroughly confuse the browser. I highly recommend using a plain text editor to avoid any problems.

Work stations in the classroom and CTC have other text editors to use besides the ones supplied with the operating system. The PCs have TextPad installed, Macs have TextWrangler installed. TextPad has a downloadable trial copy (http://www.textpad.com/); TextWrangler is freeware and available at the BBEdit website (http://www.barebones.com/products/textwrangler/index.shtml). I tend to use TextWrangler when coding in the classroom.

Another text editor for the Windows OS is NotePad++, it has gotten very good review from students in this class. Find it at: http://notepad-plus-plus.org/

Many of the WYSIWYG HTML editors will include a text view of the code it is generating. It can be too tempting though to use the visual aspects of the tool rather than understanding the code itself. For a more full featured text editor, you may want to investigate HomeSite (PC) or BBEdit (Mac). There are many other text editors available - freeware, shareware, and comercialware. Do a search of your favorite software repository and check the reviews.

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