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Thursday, October 26, 2006

HTML Trick for Journalists - Steal the code!! 

Sounds like more fun than it really is. What a lot of newcomers to HTML don't realize if they want to figure out how others handle web page layout they can either;

- in Mozilla Firefox - hit Ctrl-u (hold down control key and hit 'u') or click View>Page Source on the menu bar. That will bring up another window with the HTML for the page you're looking at.

- in IE - click View>Source (there's no hot-key combo)

Don't be intimidated. Yes, it looks complicated but a little switching back and forth between the code and the page will reveal it's secrets. Copy the section you want into a test copy of the page you're working on (never, ever, EVER work on live files) and save that locally for test purposes. You can open local files with File>Open or Ctrl-o in both browsers allowing you to fool around with the code until you get it right.

Once you struggle through and get something right, remember to save a version (File>Save-as in most apps (I just add numbers to the file name)) before moving on. I've lost count of the number of times that 'one last tweak' ended up completely messing up earlier work leaving me with my head in my hands.

An free and easy-to-use-and-learn WYSIWYG web page editor comes with the Mozilla browser (not to be confused with Firefox)which you can get here. I've used it in both Windows and Linux and there's a Mac version as well.

Look for the "Win32 Full Installer links" which has a Full Installer that lets you download all of the Mozilla components and then specify install options and a Net Installer which lets you download only the components you specify.

For instance, I didn't bother installing the Newsgroup and Mail components because they're handled by other apps. The editor is part of the browser and lets you open pages for editing by hitting Ctrl-e then save them locally and/or publish directly them to your web site if you have the password to do that.

If you're really brave and want to try some Javascript (about as complicated as HTML once you get the hang of it) remember that there's usually associated code in the header section of the page as well.

Internet Poker Player (one of my other blogs) has some template hacks that might be useful to other Blogspot bloggers. It took me a long time to get that stuff lined up right.

While it's perfectly OK to copy open source code, using someone else's words/pictures without attribution or permission is wrong. Similarly, linking to an image on another server without permission is theft of services in that you're using bandwidth that somone else paid for to serve the image.

If you see a copyright notice then get the code somewhere else. There's no need to steal when you can get something for free. Technically, the notice is not necessary to establish copyright but it makes the intent clear. When in doubt, ask the owner of the web site.

-PB--


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