Getting Started as a
NEW Chapter Webmaster
Welcome to the ranks of ABANA Chapter Webmasters! Webmasters are the new Publishers, the Town Criers, Bards and Harpers. Webmasters are not the organization but they create the image of the organization. As the Internet challenges traditional sources of information, Webmasters become the challengers of tradition. As the technology of the 90's becomes that of the 21st Century Webmasters become futurists and technologists.
As a Webmaster you will be responsible for many things. Building and maintaining the web page is just part of the job. You will also need to be prepared to scan and put documents on your web-site, edit articles, answer mail, check old links. Plan on working on your web site at least once a week. If you have questions you can address them to the chapter Webmasters forum or to the ABANA-Chapter.com Webmaster.
THINGS YOU WILL NEED
We do not provide an on-line "site builder" like some free services. Most of these programs are designed to build single page amature sites. More complicated sites can be built with them but it is difficult and the result of re-editing over and over can produce a huge mess. The reason they are provided is the method used to control the web-site and how you access it. They also hide much of the HTML code from you. It sounds like a help but it is in fact a hindrance. You are going to need to learn some HTML and hiding it from you wont help. They also do not allow FTP (File Transfer Protocol) loading of pages. FTP access to upload and download files is the same access that is provided by pay services. It is actually easier to use than the on-line site builders. Both our free and pay services offer the same FTP access.
- A fairly new (less than 5 year old) PC or Macintosh
- An Internet connection and browser software (Netscape or IE)
- An HTML Editor
- An FTP program (may be included in your HTML Editor)
- A scanner (not really an option)
- login and password from us.
HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) can be written in any editor or word processor that saves files as ASCII text. Although it CAN be done and the results checked with your browser, it is difficult and there is no help or error checking. You probably already have the following:
As with anything, you get what what you pay for. These packages work but just do not have the bells and whistles. They also try to hide some of the actual process from you which you are going to need to learn. The editing suite I use is:
- Microsoft Frontpage Express and Web Publishing Wizard comes with WIN98
- Netscape Communicator provides Composer which has a built in "publish" feature.
These are all down loadable but must be registered after a trial period. I think all three together cost less than $150 US. There are fancier packages but these do a very good job for me. Hippie is not a "drag and drop" editor therefore you must learn how to format your pages. However it also does not create the difficult to understand and edit mess of the "drag and drop" types. Hippie comes with a fairly decent on-line HTML reference and spell checker.
- Hippie98® Originally a shareware tool now a very nice app.
- CSE Validator (a plug-in for Hippie)
- WS-FTP Pro File Transfer Client for Windows 95 and NT
The CSE Validator "plug-in" is great help. It finds those pesky "nesting errors", dangling tags and other mistakes. It wont help you make a prettier page but it sure will keep you from getting so far over your head that it is easier to scrap the page and start all over.
WS_FTP is a real standard. You can copy one file up or down from the webserver or you can copy your whole web-site.
You may also want an HTML reference book. I have found most of the BIG expensive ones that come with a CD to be a waste of money. The one you want is the thin little reference by . . . shoot, given mine away! Anyway, its the thin one with the blue and yellow one with a small rabbit on the cover. If you need to know more there are dozens of great web-sites with HTML know how.
You will also need a graphics editor to tweak and resize images. Your scanner may come with one. I've found the big name one to be worthless. I was lucky iPhoto came with my first scanner. It is far from a professional editing package but it is better for web work than the popular $400 package I paid for. The maker of iPhoto ulead does not sell it directly but has other packages that can be downloaded for free. If you try one let me know how you like it.
Your scanner does not have to be anything fancy. Normal video 'screen' resolution is 75dpi and the cheapest scanners do at least 600dpi. This is all you need for web work or printing with anything less than a fancy commercial color printer. I generally scan at the lowest resolution of 100dpi and then reduce the image size another 50%. Inexpensive 'flatbed' scanners can be had for just over $100 US.