Creating Your Own Web Site
Pastfinders Computer Users’ Group
September 14, 2005
This page was created using Nvu. I inserted a table with a single row
and column and set the table width to 90% of the page width. Your
choice of width is pixels (so it's always the same width) or a percent
of screen width since people use different resolutions. The table
location was centered from left to right and the Firefox Browser will
show that properly; Internet Explorer wants to left justify it. Use
your right button to go through some of the table options. Select Table
properties to set width and justification.
A web page can be as simple as a BLOG or as elaborate as a Family History with photos, charts, animation, forms and links to other pages and other sites. We’ll consider the basics of finding a host, creating and uploading your web page. We won’t get into exotic design details.
The simplest web page is a BLOG which is generally an updated text message that may be a diary, opinion (or tirade) on a given subject, news, a treatise or explanation or a rallying point for an extended family (group BLOG). Go to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog to see a history of “BLOGGING”. Type BLOG into Google to get a listing of free hosts. Go to www.blogwise.com to see a list of existing BLOGS . We’ll look at what Blogger (www.blogger.com) is all about and how to use it. To create your own BLOG go there, sign up and follow the instructions. Blogger has a toolbar that you can add to WORD and BLOG directly from your WORD program.
Pastfinders created a demonstration BLOG at http://pfusersgroup.blogspot.com and invited members to ask for an invitation so that they could simulate what a family or group BLOG was like. It has more information on what a BLOG is.
BLOGS are being created by journalists, sports figures, politicians, both political parties (www.dnc.org/blog.html and http://www.gop.com/Blog/ and others. There’s also a great number of newspapers, journals and other media that are available on the web. A way of seeing what’s new on any of the above that you want to subscribe to is by using an RSS feed. RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication and you can use an RSS reader to subscribe to as many BLOGS and other sources as you want and it will show when any of them has a new post. I use www.newsgator.com and subscribe to the Pastfinder’s BLOG, Dotty’s BLOG and Red Sox and Patriots news from the Boston Globe and a genealogy page that in itself is an RSS reader.. It lists what’s new at dozens of genealogical sites.
If you’d rather talk or play music than write then maybe a PODCAST is for you. It’s a web page created for audio only and is mostly used to play music but some serious subjects are discussed. Many radio stations saw the possibility of PODCASTING and started their own PODCASTS. WGBH, Boston and KOMO in Seattle are typical Go here for a list of PODCASTS: www.podcast.net.
A conventional personal web page, even though it may be updated often, is more static in terms of layout that a BLOG which adds new posts at the top of the page and slides older posts down, eventually archiving them at the end of the month. We can leave the layout constant and update only those items that change. We can construct a web page without knowing anything about HTML coding.
First we have to decide on where our page will be hosted. Most Internet Service Providers include free web hosting in their plan. Check your ISP for information on how to access your space. You should find out what the name of the first page has to be (usually index.html) and what the address is where you have to send it (usually an FTP address). You’ll need your username and password that you signed onto your ISP with.
For most of our genealogical purposes, an account at Rootsweb will do. There is no size limit and there are several categories such as genealogical, family etc. Go to www.rootsweb.com and click on Requests for web space. Follow the instructions provided. Look through the tutorials and there is a wizard to help you when you have something to upload.
To create our web page we’ll use Nvu from the Mozilla Foundation. Download it from http://nvu.com/download.html. It’s a free program. Scroll down the page to the WIN 32 installer and download it. Another free program is Front Page Express that came with Windows 98. You can use also Wordperfect or Word to create a web page. Use either one as you normally would and when you are done click on FILE/PUBLISH TO HTML(WordPerfect) or FILE/SAVE AS and under FILE TYPE select HTML DOCUMENT (Word). You can choose a template to start with that will format the page you create. If you know HTML code you can create a web page in Notepad or Wordpad. Here’s one of many HTML tutorials: www.htmlcodetutorial.com/
Nvu is similar to any wordprocessor in that you can enter text and images and links to other pages. It provides the header information and inserts all of the necessary HTML tags. Type something and then click on the Source tab at the bottom of the page to see the HTML code that changes a page of text into a web page.
Create a folder on your hard drive where you can store everything that will be a part of you web page. You can create sub folders as necessary to keep things organized. A graphics folder will help keep your images where you can find them. Genealogy programs discussed below may create additional folders.
Plan on how you want you page to look. The top or index page should provide information on what your page is all about and include links to any other pages that you’ve created. Don’t be afraid to copy a page that you’ve found on the Internet. If you want to see how a page that you like is created, click on VIEW and then SOURCE in IE and you can print out the source code and study it. Pages can be divided up into columns and boxes just by using the TABLE function.
Some designers design everything for users with a screen resolution of 800x600 pixels. You can choose to make things a percentage of the screen size so it will adjust for different resolution monitors. Nvu allows you to view your page as it would look on different resolution monitors.
If you want to publish your family history, there are several programs that will convert your GEDCOM file to an HTML file to include on your web page. One of the best free programs is Uncle Ged (http://gatheringleaves.org/uged/). When you input your GEDCOM file into Uncle Ged, you will get a folder called HTML which includes a file called Index.htm and you have to provide a link to that file on your home page. Another free program is Personal Ancestry File (PAF) from the Mormon Church. However you create your genealogy, you can tell PAF the name and location of the GEDCOM file and it will create a web page for you. It can be based on the ancestors of a selected person, on the descendants of a selected person, or a select group of individuals.
You can go to www.rootsweb.com and click on Websites at RootsWeb at the top of the right column and then select some websites under Surname Websites (perhaps there’s one with your surname). Check them for content and format and if you find one you like, check at the bottom of the page to see what software created it. You can list your website here so that others looking for any of the surnames you register here can find your home page.
If you have any problems, email me with details and I'll see what I can do.