Authoring documents for the Intranet

General Notes

Purpose of the Intranet

The purpose of the Intranet is to hold materials that are intended for use within the university.

Most materials on this service will be access controlled, so that documents which are internal to a group will be visible only to members of that group. The owner of a document will be able to control who can access the document. It is hoped that this will facilitate group working.

By default, you will have 3 folders in your home folder :-

Content

The quality and presentation of the information provided by staff is of great importance. A clear and logical structure for your resources will enable users to find the information that they require.

Responsibility

Each member of staff (or the person who they have asked to author their documents for them) is responsible for their resources. This also includes various copyright issues.

Document Design issues

Designing for the World Wide Web is not easy. It is similar to designing for other media, but with greater restrictions on what is possible. However, the general principles of good design apply to World Wide Web information equally well. Careful design takes time and effort, but hopefully it is worthwhile !

Think carefully about what you want to convey
The information content is most important but don't forget the impression that your design creates.
Stick to a simple layout
In general, the most successful designs are the simplest. Decide upon a clean and simple 'style', and stick to it. Avoid cluttering a page with too many images, lines and mixtures of bold and italic text.
Granularity
Try to keep your information in sensible sized chunks. For example, just because you wish to put a whole book onto the server, and you receive it as a single word processed document doesn't mean that this is the best way to do it! Books come split into chapters, with contents pages and indexes for very good reasons.

Authoring the documents

How you do this depends upon what type of computer you are using, and which version of which piece of software you are running on it! You could write all of your web pages as HTML in a plain text editor (e.g. Notepad in Windows) (just use your browsers View / Source menu item to see what it looks like) but this is not recommended unless you really know your HTML !

So, if we ignore that option, you have two basic choices. The first is to use a modern word processor, which can either save in HTML format, or which can be converted to HTML. The second is to use a dedicated HTML editor. The word processor will be familiar to you, and could be more powerful when you are producing documents from existing word-processed files. The dedicated editor is likely to produce better HTML, and often has features which help you to organise your work, such as checking links between documents. We will be offering more guidance on HTML editors in due course.

Windows 95 and Windows NT

Most current (as of early 1999) software packages have the ability to save directly into HTML. Notable amongst these are components of the Microsoft Office 97 and Microsoft Office 95 suite, including Microsoft Word. Users of Microsoft Word version 7 (which comes as part of Microsoft Office 95) and all later versions should simply be able to save their document, choosing HTML as the file type.

A number of specialist editors are now available. Recent versions are becoming quite powerful. An example would be Microsoft FrontPage. This allows word processor style editing of pages, and helps you to manage links between files, for example by automatically changing links if you rename a file.

My html file has lost its formatting

You may find that some of the formatting of the HTML file looks different when you edit it from the I drive. In particular, if you use Notepad to edit a file, you may find that the end of line has been replaced by a small black box. The HTML file will still work OK, but it can be awkward to edit. There are at least a couple of ways around this. One is to go through and change the box into a normal carriage return. In Notepad, you can select the box, then choose copy. Go to Find from the Search menu, and paste the box into the Find What box. Click Find Next. You can then just hit the Enter key. To repeat the Find use the F3 key. Alternatively you can use Microsoft Write or Wordpad, but be very careful to save the file as plain text afterwards ! Write / Wordpad are probably the best tools for this job. Select the file, and ensure that you load it with No Conversion.

Macintosh

As for the PC, most current (as of early 1999) software packages have the ability to save directly into HTML, for example the latest versions of the Microsoft Office suite.

A number of specialist editors are also available for the Mac, including Adobe PageMill.


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Last Updated : August 1999

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