Attaching HTML files and Web Sites

HTML, the Hypertext Markup Language, is the file type that web browsers such as Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer are designed to display. Because HTML files can be viewed directly within the web browser, they are a good format to use within the Handouts/Notices and Lectures modules. The problem of your students not having the correct version of a particular word processor, discussed in the previous sections, disappears completely when you deliver your materials as HTML files. Creating web pages using HTML is a big topic, but you don't have to be an expert web site designer to make good use of HTML within your Manhattan classroom.

Saving a Word file as HTML

One simple technique is to write your document in MS Word or another word processor, and then save the file as an HTML document. Let's take a close look at how you might make an exam schedule available to your students in the Handouts/Notices module using a variety of techniques. Along the way, we'll review the techniques for attaching files and web sites covered in Basic Skills and Concepts. First, consider that you can simply create the document in MS Word and attach that file to a Manhattan message:

Then you can directly attach that Word file to a message in the Handouts/Notices module:

The drawback to this method is that your students must have either Word or a Word viewer to read the attached file.

Instead of requiring your students to have Microsoft Word, you can save your Word document as HTML.

When selecting a name for an HTML file, it's always best to always use lowercase letters, and to never use spaces. Doing so will avoid some potential problems when you post the web file to Manhattan.

Back into your Manhattan classroom, you can compose a new Handouts/Notices message and attach the HTML file as either a normal file or as a web site.

If you attach the HTML file as a normal file, it will appear as a simple attachment in the message. Clicking on the file name will load the document directly into the user's web browser.

If you include the HTML file as an attached web site (by putting a check in the "attach a web site" box), your students will see a "View Attached Web Site" button, rather than a simple file name in the message:

When the View Attached Web Site button is clicked, the page appears in the browser within a frame:

So far, the HTML file is a standalone entity. That is, the entire content of our Exam Schedule is contained completely within a single HTML file, which we named man101_exam_schedule.html. That's why it really doesn't matter much whether the file is attached as an ordinary file attachment, or as an attached web site. This changes completely when the 'web site' consists of more than one file. The simplest way to demonstrate this is to add an image to our original Word file:

After using Word's Save as HTML command, you'll find there are now TWO files associated with this document. There's the man101_exam_schedule.html file, PLUS a file called Image1.gif that stores the clipart image. This is what it looks like when you click on one of the Browse buttons within Manhattan's compose message screen.

When, as in this example, an HTML file relies on one or more other files to be viewed in a web browser, you MUST attach the file as a web site:

If you leave out the Image1.gif file, you would get a "broken image" symbol on the web page. If you include the Image1.gif file, but didn't check the box indicating you were "attaching a web site", the files would simply appear as two separate files in the attachment list:

But suppose your Word document has many images, like this user's manual you are reading? If there are fewer than twenty files associated with the web site you want to attach, you can use the Browse buttons to select them one at a time. But what if there are more than twenty files?

The answer to this problem was covered briefly in Zip Files. You can use a program like WinZip to take all of the files for your web site and compact them into a single 'zip' file. You can then attach that one zip file as a web site to the message, and Manhattan will uncompress it on the server for you. Using zip files, there is no limit to the number of files associated with an attached web site. We'll cover the use of WinZip in detail a little later in this chapter, when we discuss PowerPoint.

Beyond Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word was used above to illustrate in some detail how to work with HTML files and web sites within Manhattan. We used Word because most teachers are familiar with a word processor. However, the truth is Word is a pretty poor choice for creating web pages. It's OK for quick conversions to HTML format, especially if you already have the text stored as a Word document, but it is far from being the best choice of an HTML editor.

If you do get interested in creating web pages for your Manhattan classroom, you might want to investigate other options. (Macromedia's Dreamweaver is highly recommended.) Regardless of which tool you use to create a web site, you can attach that site to any Manhattan message. As mentioned earlier, it is best to always follow two simple conventions when selecting file names for your HTML files and image files. First, always use lowercase letters in the file names, and second, never put spaces in the names. If you follow these rules, your web pages will be highly "portable". That is, you'll be able to re-use them, not only within Manhattan, but also on servers throughout the Internet.