WebRef Update: Featured Article: Web Editing Anywhere
Web Editing Anywhere The Internet has changed rapidly in a few short years. It used to be difficult to get your own Web page, but now it's possible to have a decent domain name at very little cost. As magazines, tools, and books proliferate however, it seems that the cost for maintaining your site hasn't shrunk, and if you're one of the millions of people just getting into Web publishing, that cost can be prohibitive.
If you're like many people, you've already discovered the joy of shareware and freeware. There's a good chance that you've downloaded shareware and freeware editors, FTP clients, and graphics packages. But can you imagine being able to use the same Web page editor and graphics package regardless of whose computer you were using? There are tools that will work on any computer with any operating system connected to the Internet, simply because they accessed directly from the Internet.
Edit Anywhere with Blogger
Blogger (www.blogger.com) is a free weblog editor. Using Blogger you can create and update a Web page on the fly, using only your browser window. Regardless of where you are, if you have a connection to the Internet, you can keep maintaining your page. The best thing about Blogger is that it's actually intuitive enough that you may find that it takes less time to create a page with it than it normally does using the tools you know and love.
Blogger is a free online service that allows you to create a weblog or "blog." A weblog is the descendant of the old .plan and .project files that are still used by people to give updates on their projects. A weblog however looks a lot more like an online news site than it does anything else. It's designed to let you add comments, notes, messages, or any other content to the page on a regular basis, and this it where it excels. You have full control over the entire page from within Blogger's editor, which means you can update your HTML from any browser without needing to install an editor or use an FTP client on that machine. The file is actually sent directly from Blogger to your server for you.
First, you'll need to sign into Blogger and create an account. Once you have done that, you are ready to create a weblog. Simply click on "create new blog>>". The page that comes up will be a forms page. You'll need to enter a title and description for your weblog, the URL where your project will end up, the FTP server and path, and the filename of the weblog. When creating a weblog for the first time, the path should already exist but the file itself should not. It's easy enough to put the weblog in your top level and call it blogger.html. You can always change it later.
Once you hit create, you'll be taken to a split screen. You can enter your Web content (in HTML) much as you would if you were using HTML to reply to an online message board or e-mail. Read the instructions in the lower half of the screen, enter some random text or HTML (don't worry if you make a mistake, you can change it later), and click on the post button at the top of the screen. The screen will update with your message appearing on the bottom half and you are given the opportunity to publish now. Don't worry, we'll make it look nice later. Once it's published you can click on "view web page" to see your creation. It's not great art, but it will be soon.
Let's go back to the editor and click on template. Here's where the real power is. This template controls the entire look of your page. The more HTML you know, the more you can spruce up your page and make it jump through hoops. Whenever you want to test it out, just click the "save changes" button and then republish the page. There are no limitations to what you can enter here, so feel free to go hog wild.
Blogger is more than just an HTML editor and publisher though. By using the template and settings functions, you can easily control the look and feel of your page. You can create regular archives and control when they update. You can also give other people permission to change the page by using Pyra (www.pyra.com). By setting various permissions, you not only give someone access to update your Web page, but you can also limit those permissions to specific functions. This allows multiple people to update a single page without worrying about stepping on each other's code.
With Blogger, we have the ability to work anywhere without our precious HTML editors and FTP programs. To really make a site shine however, you still need a good graphics program. Personally, I'm graphically inept and cannot afford to purchase the programs that allow me to make the beautiful banners I need to spruce up my Web site. Luckily, I don't need to.
Revised: May 9, 2000