Skidmore College
CL 302:  Private Lives, Private Worlds
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Web writing assignments
 
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Course syllabusCourse timetableOnline resourcesReturn to the CL 302 homepage
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Assignment I (1 Feb, 12:30 p.m.)
Assignment II (8 Feb, 12:30 p.m.)
Assignment III (26 Feb, 5:00 p.m.)
Assignment IV (9 Apr, 5:00 p.m.)

Saving your pages on the Skidmore web server
Editing your pages on the Skidmore web server

| T. Ball ||
A. Carballo
S. Fong
D. Gilmour
E. Hohmann
M. Kugler
T. Power

Semester project:  Reconstructing private Life
 
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Assignment I

Due:  Monday, 1 February by 12:30 p.m.

In this assignment you will learn the rudiments of Netscape Composer. 

Create a basic web page for yourself, a page that introduces you to the world.  Think of it like an electronic resume.  As such it should contain information appropriate for public viewing.  Your page will be linked  to the CL 302 suite, and so theoretically open to perusal by anyone in the world.  If this kind of access troubles you—understandably so—please see me. 

On your page, include the following information: 

  • your name, year, and major;
  • your reasons for studying Latin;
  • your interests within the field of classics;  and
  • your hobbies or other interests.
How you present this information is up to you.  Since your final project will be more or less an electronic research paper, you might favor narrative over lists. 

In addition to the above requirements, you should also offer your reader a link to one of your favorite websites.  Links are the single most important element of web technology, so it's best to learn how to create them from the start. 

Please compose your page in Netscape Composer, even if you prefer another program. 

For information on saving your page, click here

When you have successfuly saved your page on the Skidmore server, please email me the URL (Uniform Resource Locator, or internet address).  Once you have done this, I will consider your assignment "turned in."

If you have any questions at any time, please contact me.
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   Requirements
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Assignment II

Due:  Monday, 8 February by 12:30 p.m.

In this assignment you will refine and augment the web page(s) you created in the first assignment.  While I don't want to tell you how your page should look or what its content should be, there are certain things that I must ask of you.  (Besides, this is just an assignment—you can make an official page for yourself, to which you can do whatever you want.)

Here are the requirements:

1.  If your page was less than one screen, you will need to flesh out your text.   Aim, then, for about two full screens of text, so that your reader will have to scroll through the page.  What you write is up to you, but do try to adhere to the introductory spirit of the assignment.  (If you already have two screensful, move on to the next step.)

2.  Impose a more systematic arrangement on your text.  Play with the Netscape Composer text formatting buttons:

The text formatting buttons in Netscape composer

which allow you to add bullets, indent, align left or right, and so on.  If your text is centered on the page, consider aligning it left.  Also, break your text into short paragraphs, which are easier on the eye (this is true of all electronic media, from web pages to email). 

Remember that no matter what you do to your page, until you re-publish it, no changes are official.

3.  Once you have re-arranged your text, create some internal links with the target button:

The target button in Composer

Put the cursor at the beginning of a line where you want to create a "target" (also called an "anchor"), and press the Target button.  Type a name for the target in the edit box and click "OK."  A target icon (visible only in the Composer window) appears in your document to mark the target's location.  You can then link to this target just as you would to any other website.

How many targets to make?  Let's say your page breaks down into four basic sections:  vital stats, major, hobbies, links to other websites.  You would probably want to make four targets, placing each one at the start of its section.

4.  Place a basic navigation menu at the top of your page that links to each of your targets.  Composer conveniently lists all the targets on your page in the Link properties dialog box.  Just click on the appropriate one.

Here is a sample menu—click to test it (click the "Back" button to return):

Top   |    Assignment I    |   Saving pages

Each option is linked to a target (called "top," "assignment1," and "saving," respectively) on this page.

When you are done, publish your page just as you did the first time.  For convenience, use the same filename, unless for some reason you want the old file on record.  For further tips on how to edit and re-publish your page, click here.

Please email me when you have completed the assignment.
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   Requirements
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Assignment III

Due:  Friday, 26 February by 5:00 p.m.

In this assignment, you will further refine your personal homepage by using tables to format your text.  Again, you need not alter the official version of your page;  but you will have to submit a file based on that page.

An internet document is a visual medium;  morever, it is an extremely plastic medium, by which I mean that there are as many ways to format a web page as there are web authors.

The format and layout of a web page are crucial.  They impress a reader first (not least because some internet documents take a long time to load).  They send the first message.

Furthermore, good format and layout enhance content.  Even the prose of the world's greatest author will fail in a format that is disorganized and unappealing.  That said, content must come first.  The trick, then, is to strike a balance between content and format, each cooperating with the other.

Here are the requirements:

1.  Your page must be formatted so that your main text is off to the right, with a margin off to the left (much like all the CL 302 pages).

2.  The backgrounds of the main text and the margin must be different colors.

3.  The main text must, as always, be clearly divided into sections.

4.  The margin must contain, next to each section of main text, a box (in yet another color) of smaller text that summarizes the section at right.

5.  Your page title and options menu should remain in place.

In short, your page should look something like this (feel free to use other colors):
 

Title of Page
option 1  |  option 2  |  option 3
summary of  this section.
first section of text first  section of text first  section of text first  section of text first  section of text first  section of text first  section of text first  section of text first  section of text first  section of text first  section of text first  section of text.
summary of this section.
second section of text second section of text second section of text second section of text second section of text second section of text second section of text second section of text.
summary of this section.
third section of text third section of text third section of text third section of text third section of text third section of text third section of text third section of text third section of text .

The tool that makes such formats possible is the table.  The sample page above is actually one table, while the smaller summary boxes are actually tables within the table.  No text exists outside the table.  All of the pages in the CL 302 suite are constructed in this way.

Tables are controlled with the Table button:

The table button in Composer

or via Table Properties (under the Format menu).

Working with tables well requires trial and error.  Here is some basic information to get you started:

  • Table parts:  The horizontal divisions are called rows.  The vertical divisions are columns.  Rows and columns intersect in individual cells.  A table within a table is a guest table.  The outer table is called a parent or host table.

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  • Measurements:  Tables are only as wide as you make them.  You can specify that they be a certain percentage of the window in which they will appear, or you can make them a certain number of pixels (screen dots) wide.  The same measurements that apply to tables apply to individual cells.  A cell can be 75% the width of its table, or it can be a specific number of pixels wide.

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  • Adding, deleting, expanding:  Adding rows onto an existing table is easy—just put your cursor in the bottom right cell and press tab.  To put a new row anywhere else you must insert it (under the Insert menu). The same applies to inserting columns.  Likewise, cells, rows, columns, and even whole tables can be deleted.  See the options under Delete in the Edit menu.  Furthermore, it is possible to expand cells vertically or horizontally over other rows or columns.
You will need to experiment with tables at length before you master them.  This assignment is designed to give you, if not mastery, at least good competency.

To see other examples of tables, click here.

When you are done, publish your page just as you did the first time.  For convenience, use the same filename, unless for some reason you want the old file on record.  For further tips on how to edit and re-publish your page, click here.

Please email me when you have completed the assignment.  Because it is a more challenging assignment than the others, be sure to give yourself enought time to finish.  Contact me if you are having difficulties.
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   About images
   Image sources
   Image properties
   Image, text, & table
   Requirements
 
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Assignment IV

Due:  Firday, 9 April by 5:00 p.m.

In this assignment, you will experiment with the integration of text, images, and tables.

Any image—picture, graphic, or other patently non-textual symbol—you see on a web page is a separate file.  Like the web page itself, it can be listed in a directory or stored in a folder.  In fact, click here to see the contents of the folder in which this web page is stored.  (Click "Back" to return.)

Note that both .html and image files are displayed side by side.  In fact, if you click on an image file, Netscape will "view" it for you—although many of the images in the folder look like text, so you might not  realize that you are looking at a graphic at first glance.

The two most common types of image file are .gif (GIF, Graphics Interchange Format) and .jpg (JPEG, Joint Photographic Experts Group).  The former are simpler, and take up less memory, while the latter tend to have more elaborate color and resolution, and so take up more memory (and load time).   Wherever possible I advocate using GIFs over JPEGs—not everyone has a Pentium 3.

Before moving on to the mechanics of putting your images into a page, a few words on getting images—period.  There are basically two ways to get your hands on images: 1)  use someone else's or  2) make your own.

The first option involves either downloading images from another website or, if your source is a printed medium, scanning in the page directly.  Given the prohibitions established under recent copyright laws pertaining to the WWW, the second option is preferable—which means that you must either scan your own images (or import them from a digital camera), or create them from scratch with drawing / painting software.  In any event, images can be hard to come by.

Assuming, however, that you manage to secure something for your site, you must then decide how to display it.  If a large image, will you keep it full size, which might create delays in loading?  Or will you show it as a "thumbnail," which is linked to a larger version?  How will you integrate your image with text?  These are the sorts of questions you must answer each time you display an image.

Inserting an image into your web page is really no different from inserting text or a table.  Sometimes it is a matter of cutting and pasting.  Most times, however, you will use the Image button:

The Image button in Composer

or the Image option under the Insert menu.  The button / command calls up a dialogue box from which every aspect of your image may be controlled (place your cursor over the components of interest):

This tab handles the physical properties of an image This tab lets you link an image to another file
The image filename appears here Use this button to browse a directory for image files
If you click this box, the image file will not be saved in the same folder as your web page If you click this box, your image will become the background of your web page
These buttons are used for arranging text and images side by side.  AVOID!
These controls maintain an image's width and height These controls set or remove spaces and borders around an image
This button allows you to type captions -- like this one.
The actual dialogue box is slightly more complicated.  Only the most useful components are pictured here.
If you "mouse over" the middle row of buttons, which are for putting text and images side by side, you will notice that the caption tells you to avoid using them.  This is because Composer cannot be trusted to integrate text and images on its own—at least it has never done so satisfactorily for me.

I prefer to combine text and images in tables, which I have found to be both more versatile and more successful.  Here is an example:

Do you know me?
It ain't easy being an icon, always having to represent and stuff.  I mean, you always gotta look good, be an emblem, and all that.

I just get tired of it sometimes.  I just wanna be me.  It's all that Homer's fault, that son of a...

What's the use?  He's dead and I'm still here.

Thanks for listening.

Who is this mystery man?
Click the image to learn more.
If you view the above in Netscape Composer, you will see the various layers of tables involved.  The table of interest is the one that contains the image.  The image itself is linked to the Classics homepage.  Double clicking on the image while in Composer will pull up the Image Properties box.
Here are the requirements:

1.  Obtain two different legally usable images, either from the WWW or from your own collection.  (A good web resource for free images is Maecenas.)

2.  In a new wed page, insert the first image at full size into a table.  Next to the image put some descriptive text.  Place a caption in smaller text beneath the image.  Link the image to a related website.

3.  Insert the second image into the same table as a "thumbnail," a smaller version of the original.

To make a true thumbnail you will need to shrink your image in Microsoft Photo Editor, or some other program.  Do not simply shrink the image via the Image Properties box—although the image will display smaller, it will still take just as long to load.
Link the thumbnail to a larger version of the image.
Descriptive text must adjoin the thumbnail, as must a caption.

4.  Both images must also have "mouseover" text—the boxes that appear when the cursor is placed over the images.

5.  Your page must be formatted in the fashion that was agreed upon in your peer meeting.

You will need to experiment with images at length before you master them.  This assignment is designed to give you, if not mastery, at least good competency.

When you are done, publish your page just as you did the first time.  For convenience, use the same filename, unless for some reason you want the old file on record.  For further tips on how to edit and re-publish your page, click here.

Please email me when you have completed the assignment.  Because it is a more challenging assignment than the others, be sure to give yourself enought time to finish.  Contact me if you are having difficulties.
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Saving your pages on the Skidmore web server.
Your masterpiece is finished!  How do you allow the world to access it?  There are three basic steps you must take, in this order: 
    (A)  First, you need to create a folder / directory called "www" on the Skidmore web server to hold your pages.  (If you have already done this, don't do it again.) 

    (B)  Second, you must move your web document into your www folder. 

    (C)  Third, you must make your document public.  Normally, the server thinks that any documents in your www directory are private and are not accessible to outside web browsers.

Steps (A) and (C) are easily done.  Step (B) might prove difficult.  Skidmore's CITS (Center for Information Technology Services) has two separate web pages on how to achieve some or all of these steps.  You should eventually read them both:  Step (A) (making a www directory) is covered in CITS page (1).  Do items one and two as described there before doing anything else. 

Step (B) (saving or "publishing" documents) is covered by both pages.  I would suggest that you follow the guidelines of CITS page (2), which are a little less arcane. 

In a nutshell, CITS page (2) tells you how to use the "Publish" command (under the "File" menu) in Netscape Composer to save your page in your www folder.   Publish is different from "Save," as the "Save" dialog boxes may not get you access to your folder.  The Publish command will. 

The trickiest thing about Publish is that you will need to be specific about where Netscape is to put your document—the directory path must be absolutely correct.  Instructions on how to determine the proper path are provided on CITS page (2). 

If you create your page with something other than Netscape Composer, you may have to follow the guidelines on CITS page (1) in order to achieve step (B). 

Step (C) (making your file public) is covered on CITS page (1).  The instructions are straightforward, and you should have no trouble. 

Finally, as noted above, you must email me the URL (internet address) of your document in order to officially complete your assignment.  See CITS page (1) on how to determine the URLs of your  documents.

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Editing your pages on the Skidmore web server.
Rather than edit your document on floppy disk or on your hard drive, you can edit the version that already exists on the server.

To load your document from the server directly into Netscape Composer, do the following:

1.  Go to the green Pages menu at the top of this page (the one with the student names).

2.  Right-click (i.e. click with the right mouse button rather than the left) on your name.  A dialog box will appear.  Using the mouse, select "Open link in Composer."

3.  Netscape Composer opens with your document in memory.

4.  Alternate method:  Choose "Edit page" from the "File" menu, while you are viewing your page. 

5.  When you are done editing, either temporarily or for good, use the "Publish" command (see above) to place the updated version on the server.  Note that you must specify the same FTP location as when you first published the page, for example:

ftp://www.skidmore.edu/home/u3/bi/username/www/mypage.html
If you're unhappy with your changes, just quit Composer and start over at step (1).
Note that you do not need to make your new version public, as you did the first time.  The server "remembers"!

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Last modified 26 April 1999