Publishing Your Talents to the Big Wide Web
Dear Squeak and Blat,
I want to write my first web page that features my family and their music achievements. My wife is a pianist, I play trumpet and my daughters are learning drums and tuba. I've just signed up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and they tell me I have 2 megs of space reserved for me to do this. How on earth do I begin?
Pass GO, collect your $200, and call your nearest university or community college and your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Everyone is offering short courses in web page design, some even are offering the courses online. This is a very hot topic and you have lots of company from folks wanting to set up their own web pages. If you have any money left after passing GO on the Monopoly board (just kidding of course!), you might ask your ISP if they'd give you any more room or what'd they would charge for extra space. It won't take too many digital sound files or graphics to fill 2 megabytes of online storage.
Blat gives you the basics of what web page HTML coding is all about. Learning the HTML coding is sort of like learning which fingers to put down for what notes on your trumpet. After you get the notes down, then you need to work on the important stuff like playing musically. The same goes for web pages. After the HTML coding comes the important issues of web page layout and design. Three books I particularly like are:
Designing for the Web by Jennifer Niederst (O'Rielly & Associates, ISBN 1-56592-165-8). I'm using this one for my class this Spring.
Creating Killer Web Sites by David Siegel (Hayden Books, ISBN 1-56830-289-4)
The three keywords of Siegel's book on the opening page are: Quality, Brevity, and Bandwidth. Take these to heart as you begin to create your web page designs. Quality versus Bandwidth is a key issue; you are trying to deliver the best looking graphics and the best sounding music over the Internet where the person at the receiving end most likely has a 14.4 or 28.8 modem at best.
There's another issue you will definitely need to consult with your service provider on. How to get your web pages, graphics, and sounds uploaded to your 2 megabyte space on their web server. They are the best ones to help you with this. The real hard-core way of doing this is with a software program called "Telnet." Here you will need to learn some basic UNIX commands to navigate around. The easier way (avoiding most of the UNIX) is to use an FTP client (like FETCH for the Mac and WS_FTP for Windows) to move files up to your server space (uploading) and move files back down (downloading) to your computer. They will also show you how to properly name your files and set file permissions, all of which you should be able to do from the FTP software (FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol).
I know this sounds like a lot at once. Just start simple and keep experimenting. As I noted above, it helps to find a workshop or short course to take so you can get some hands-on experience under the eye of a good tutor.
By the way, sounds like you've got the makings of a good family polka band to me! Do you need a clarinet player?
Sounds like you have an in-house band going there. You may get a few bookings at the local Holiday Inn to pay for those music lessons and ISP charges!
Well, as you probably know, web pages are actually constructed using text that contains special tags that help your browser (e.g., Netscape or Internet Explorer) create the image on your screen.
Here is an example:
<TITLE>Harry H. Players Online</TITLE>
This is called the HyperText Markup Language or HTML. You can get a book that contains the HTML tag information and then just write your code. All of this can be written from scratch with your word processor or a simple text editor. You can type in text and also make reference to sound files, movies and image files. Once you have created your pages so they run on your own computer, you can transfer the files to your Internet Service Provider's server computer, using the password, account, and procedures that your ISP will explain to you.
Another way to create these pages is to purchase an editing program that actually creates this code for you as you work with the program. Such software works like a word processor. The difference is that it saves files in HTML that can immediately be used on the Internet. You can use these programs to include sounds and pictures, as well as easily create links to other pages and to other Internet sites. Two excellent programs are Adobe's PageMill and Claris's HomePage. HomePage is available for both Mac and Windows and PageMill is available for Mac and soon for Windows.
You can find lots of help with HTML coding on the Internet. Check out the NCSA Beginner's Guide to HTML for starters. You might also check out Squeak's web page for his Internet class. Squeak will have some tips for you too about online services as well as more information on how to prepare media for your pages. Don't forget to check out our books and internet sites that we describe above.
I can't wait to learn more about the Harvey family band in cyberspace!
Peter R. Webster (a.k.a “Blat”) and David Brian Williams (a.k.a. “Squeak”) have presented workshops and other presentations together for CMS/ATMI conferences and workshops for more than 20 years. Their collaboration has led to publications and presentations internationally on music technology as well as the co-authorship of the textbook Experiencing Music Technology (Cengage Learning/Schirmer Books, 3rd edition Update, 2009), a widely adopted and highly acclaimed music technology textbook for high school and college students. Dr. Webster is emeritus professor of music education at Northwestern University and Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Southern California; Dr. Williams is emeritus professor of music and arts technology at Illinois State University, a freelance consultant, composer and musician, and immediate past president of The College Music Society.