Top Stories from the Business pages of the International Herald Tribune,
Monday, February 13, 1995
Do-It-Yourself Web Business
By Brad Spurgeon Special to the Herald Tribune
PARIS - If you think the weird tags in this column are a typographical error, think again. They may be all that lie between you and putting your business on the Internet. (Unless you happen to think that the Internet is a set of typographical errors.)
This story is an attempt to demystify the process of getting your business on the most rapidly growing and probably the best suited part of the Internet for business, the World Wide Web.
According to Win Treese's survey called the Internet Index, the Web's traffic developed in 1994 at a rate of 1,713 percent. In addition, this popular format for communicating over the Net is in many ways the most traditional-looking, as well as the part of the Internet that is easiest to use.
The Web consists mostly of pages like a magazine's, with photos, graphics, text and even sound and video. It seems to offer everything offered by all traditional media combined.
One of the keys to its growth is that an aspiring business can create its own basic Web pages and do it relatively cheaply.
Creating Web documents has been simplified by shareware programs that take care of many of the scary textual tags you have to put in your documents to format them for the Web. Even the traditional word-processing program makers are getting into the act. This month Microsoft Corp. is offering a Web formatting extension to its Word for Windows 6.0 program.
The nerd name for this document-formatting language is HyperText Markup Language, or HTML. It is the set of commands that make documents conform to the style and page layout of the Web. It makes documents not only recognizable to the Web itself but also to readers as Web documents.
The codes with the greater-than/less-than signs that you see here make this article an authentic and complete Web document.
You can learn basic HTML in an hour reading a document already on the Web by Eamonn Sullivan and entitled "Crash Course on Writing Documents for the Web," available at: http://www.demon.co.uk/pages/tutorial/html crashcourse.html. Then you may graduate to another document called "Beginner's Guide to HTML," available at: http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/demoweb/html primer.html.
But the best way to hone your Web techniques is to steal other people's code. You do this by asking your Web browser - the program, like Mosaic, that you use to navigate the Web - to show you other peoples' hidden codes. You'll see neat stuff, like the code (blink) that makes any word blink on and off on the Web page of a Netscape browser.
But the formatting process is vastly simplified by using editor programs, such as HTMLed, otherwise known as HotMetalled. That program was created by Peter B. Crenshaw, of I-Net Training & Consulting Ltd. You may contact him by e-mail at: email@example.com.
Photos for the Web must be saved in certain formats, most often CompuServe GIF, and JPEG. You may download shareware programs that will convert photo files from other formats into GIF. These files are made by scanning your family photo album shots with a scanner that you may either buy, or find someone who rents one out like a photocopy shop.
Splicing a photo or graphic onto an HTML document is nothing more than pressing an "Image" button on your HTMLed.
Of course, the most important step is to find yourself Web space. If you don't have the money or the know-how to set up your own server on the Internet with your Mac or PC, you can look around for Internet service providers offering the best price. Some rent monthly Web space for less than the cost of a tank of gasoline.
Often for that price you can get enough rented space to put an entire magazine on the Web. Or maybe you might want to put a talent-scouting agency or even advertise that you are now a consultant on how to make Web pages.
You can select from hundreds of companies that sell Web space, allowing you to shop the world for the cheapest rates.
If you're looking for ideas for setting up a business, check out the following address of 504 commercial companies that are offering business services over the Internet:
A good way to find a space provider is to call up a list of such companies at this address: http://union.ncsa.uiuc.edu/
HyperNews/get/www/leasing.html. At this address you may also connect with a list of companies that offer free Web space.
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