The Side Bar and Other Animals
The main control of HTML³ is the side bar (click on this icon to open it); from here you can open all the other windows at the click of a button. The side bar is set to automatically move to the top of desktop whenever it gets obscured so that you never lose it, although this can get a bit annoying at times so you can switch it off. If you close it altogether or lose it somehow you can click on the HTML³ icon on the icon bar at the bottom of the screen, or press the [ALT] and [F1] keys together for one second.
Here's a quick rundown of what each button does:
The Styles window is mostly concerned with the tags needed to alter the layout of a page, with codes for doing headlines, paragraph breaks, ruleoffs and so on.
Headers are what start the web page off - they tell the browser that this is an HTML document, what it's called, what colours to use for links and so on. HTML³ supports a wide range of extras, such as sounds effects, lists of words to let search engines know about your site - or hide it from them - and so on.
Footers round the page off; they tell the browser that the page is ending, but here you also have the ability to add copyright messages, let people know how to contact you, or what you used to design the site.
The Effects window generally provides tags to alter small areas of text to bring attention to them; for instance, by making them bold, italic, underlined, in colour
or a different size.
There's also a section that will take a word or phrase and apply special effects, like a different colour for each letter, and letters that get bigger and smaller like waves - even useful ones like SMALL CAPS!
At the time of writing there are five colouring effects and nine sizing effects, and as far as I know there is no other package for RISC OS that has this feature.
There's also a built-in 16 colour palette editor with blending, invert and reverse options, saving standard RISC OS palette files which can be used in graphics work.
One of the really fiddly things about HTML is writing characters outside the normal range of letters and numbers - you have to either remember the name of all those foreign characters, or even worse a code number! HTML³ solves this by displaying a large range of foreign letters and special characters, arranged into a sensible order so you can find them more easily, and you can even get it to write out a little reminder in plain English so that next time you look at the HTML for you web page you can remember that £ is really a pound sign.
The Characters window is also home to the controls for creating lists, so you can automatically put bullet points, numbers, letters or Roman numerals at the start of paragraphs.
With the address book you can quickly created links to email addresses, including a database of several recently-used addresses, and special buttons to create links to your own name or email/web address. There's also 12 buttons that you can program to enter whatever text you want; although these may be addresses, they could equally be commonly-used phrases to save you typing, or chunks of HTML code!
The Links window controls how you jump from one page to another, either in your own site or external, or how you download files. Simply by dropping files onto this window, or sometimes even on other windows like the side bar, the program will work out how to link to that file, and you can control what frame the new page should appear in, even what happens when you move the mouse pointer over a linked object. Like the Address window it also keeps a database of recently-used files so you don't have to keep redoing the same links, you can just pick them up from a menu!
Just by dropping an image onto this window (or sometimes other windows) the program will work out the code needed to display an image, including how tall and wide an image is which speeds up the way a web browser displays a page. You can also control how the image is aligned, space around it, and if it is an imagemap. There's even controls to change it's size without having to alter the graphic file itself!
Tables are great for showing large amounts of data like lists of numbers in a clear, easy-to-understand way, and they're also useful for breaking pages into separate areas - the black bar along the top and green bar down the side of this page are layed out using HTML commands that were designed to present numbers like in a spreadsheet! However, they can be complex to set up, so the Tables window helps out by giving you control over sizes, how things will be aligned, and background colours.
Forms are used to gather information from the person viewing your Web page and send it back to you so that you can, for instance, collect email addresses, set up a visitor's book, or take orders for information and products. Commonly-used examples can be selected from menus to save you even more time!
SSI or PHP or ASP
Server side includes are commands that allow you to make the server take the strain. You can get it to put the present date and time, or the time a file was updated and its size, or to include data from template files or CGI programs, and all this happens automatically every time someone downloads a page.
HTML³ has been programmed to do this in three ways - straight Apache SSI, PHP or Microsoft ASP.
Keep all your useful utilities and files close to hand and load them from a menu or an easily reached directory inside !HTML³.
HTML³: © Richard Goodwin 1997-2002