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How to Edit Your Web Page

    You can get started right away with our Quick & Dirty Page Editor. You'll probably want something better before long, but the online editor is great for experimenting while you're learning and for making quick changes even after you're a pro.

    A World-Wide-Web (WWW) page is just a text file with special instructions embedded within it for how it should be displayed. You can edit it using any editor you want, as long as you save the file in plain ASCII text.

    We'll set up your first home page for you. It will be very plain, and fairly useless. You'll want to start editing right away. As explained under Your Default Filename, the filename of your home page will be index.html, and it will be located in your home directory.

    Everyone who browses the web can read your home page file. That's pretty much the point of it. However, only you (and the sysops in an emergency) can also edit your home page file. How? You copy it to your local computer, make changes, then upload it back to your Home Directory. You can put any files you want in your directory.

    Let's say you just got your new home page, and you want to edit it. Here are the steps you'd follow:

    1. You'd use FTP to connect to the people.sff.net web server,
    2. Download the page file to your computer,
    3. Make a local backup copy before making any changes(!),
    4. Edit the file,
    5. Use FTP again to upload the changed file to the to people.sff.net.

    What editing program should I use?
    Since a web page is just ASCII text, you can use any simple plain-text editor such as DOS's EDIT, or Windows' NOTEPAD. Many people who've learned a little about HTML coding find this is the fastest and cleanest way to edit web pages.

    But what if you don't think in binary, and can't stomach the thought of writing your HTML documents using EDIT or NOTEPAD? There are lots of commercial (as well as shareware and freeware) HTML authoring systems out there on the Net, including those that are part of current office suites like Microsoft Office, Corel WordPerfect, etc. Our web server doesn't care HOW you create your page. Use any editor you want.

    People who learn best out of books might try HTML for Dummies or one of the many other HTML guides on the market.

    Naming Restrictions

    You are not limited to DOS's 8.3 convention, either in your file names or your subdirectory names. Here are some examples of perfectly legal filenames:

    [*] myfirststory.text
    [*] my favorite story
    [*] stry.txt
    [*] bartholemew.went.to.town.and.bought.a.hat
    [*] novelflat.jpg

    That said, it's still probably a good idea to stay away from using spaces in your file names. Even though they are legal here, many web-browsers don't know how to handle them. The underscore ("_") is the industry-standard substitute for the space character; thus, my_favorite_story.txt instead of my favorite story.txt.

    Try to use commonly-accepted filename extensions (.txt, .doc, etc.) for files you offer up as links. This will help the caller's web-browser know how to present the file to the caller. Avoid files without extensions at all, too, for the same reason.

    You may create as many subdirectories under your home directory as you need.

    Using FTP
    [*]You upload and download files to your Home Directory on the server people.sff.net using FTP (File Transfer Protocol). As the name suggests, FTP is just a set of rules on how to transfer files. The actual program you use to transfer files is called an FTP Client.

    There are many types of commericial, freeware and shareware FTP Clients available (see our list of suggested FTP clients).

    Install your FTP Client program per the manufacturer's instructions, then set it to use the following FTP server:

    • Hostname: people.sff.net
    • Target Folder: /

    Some FTP clients require an URL when configuring access to an FTP server. In that case, you would use:

      ftp://people.sff.net/

    Be sure to set your FTP program to log in using your SFF Net username and password.

    Note: Some firewalls can prevent FTP from working correctly. If you can't connect to the server using the above instructions, try changing your FTP client to use Passive FTP Mode. You may have to dig into the FTP program's instructions to find it.

    Making Backups
    You might want to keep backups of your files. There's usually room on the server for this. Use your FTP's copy commands to make backup copies of your files. You can also copy your server's files to your local machine if you'd like.

    If you keep them on the server, you'll want to put them in a folder apart from your normal files (i.e. /backup). Also, consider renaming your backup file copies with the .BAK extension. This usually prevents them from being indexed by most web indexers/crawlers so people won't end up at your backup file by mistake.

    HTML Verification Software/Services
    It's a very good idea to verify that your web pages are free of syntax errors and can be read correctly by different browsers. Fortunately, there are a number of very fine online and offline programs available that provide this service. Here's a list that you might find helpful.


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