Don't know HTML? It's no problem if you have the right software

IF YOU ARE one of the two or three people who do not have their own pages on the World Wide Web, perhaps it is the thought of having to learn HTML that is stopping you. The hypertext markup language is not as arcane as C++, but it does involve learning things like [H2].

There is now a plethora of programs that let you design Web pages without HTML, although it is there if you want it.


Microsoft, Adobe and Corel offer them, among others, but I decided to try Claris Home Page, partly because there are virtually identical versions for Windows and Macintosh computers, and Myinternetbusinesspage, partly because its name really is all one word.

Let it be said that though these programs do make it easier to design a Web page, they do not make it very easy.


You do have to learn the commands, even if they are accessible from icons and menus. More important, you have to develop an eye for good-looking pages and be willing to edit and adjust them until they look as good as other pages you see on the Web.

They can also look as bad as other pages you see on the Web. It is up to you.

First, Claris Home Page, from the software subsidiary of Apple. Since Claris prides itself on being the largest software vendor for computers running the Mac operating system, I put the Windows 95 version on the PC; it also works with Windows NT 3.5.1. A 486-based machine, or later, is required, as well as 8 megabytes of RAM (16 for NT) and at least 4 megabytes of hard-disk space. The Macintosh version requires a Mac with a 68020 or higher processor, or a Power Mac, 8 megabytes of RAM, System 7.1 or later, and at least 2 megabytes of disk space. As always, these requirements should be taken as bare minimums; you will be much happier with a faster computer and more memory and disk space. Either version is less than $100.

I opened a short text file I had created with Microsoft Word, and it came into Home Page without incident. Then I selected the first line and, from the Format menu, turned it into Heading 1, the largest. The next line became Heading 2, slightly smaller, and so forth, down to Heading 6. The next three paragraphs became a bulleted list in an instant, and the next three were put into italics, by picking Other and Emphasis from the Format menu.

Next I put an image supplied by Claris on the page, using commands in the Insert menu, made the image transparent and got a preview of how the page probably would look to a viewer who saw it on the Web. A Document Statistics option in the Edit menu said that the page would take at least 12 seconds to download at 14,400 bits per second, or 6 seconds at 28,800.

All this was the work of maybe 15 minutes. Admittedly, I used only a fraction of the features in the program and the result was not a page I would want to put out for the world to see. For that, you will want to get far more organized; reading the "Planning Your Web Site" chapter in the thin Home Page manual is a start.

Businesspage, to call it by its nickname, comes in a package with four 3.5-inch floppies for Windows 3.1 computers and a CD-ROM for either Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 machines. The program, from the Mysoftware Co., costs less than $120.

By now a Webmaster, I brought the same Word document into Businesspage and changed its look in the same ways. Businesspage feels more like a word processor than a Web processor. Instead of Heading 6, or whatever, you select point and style commands like 9-point bold. H6 and 9-point bold amount to the same thing. You may be more comfortable with point sizes, if you are already familiar with them.


On the other hand, H6 teaches you a little HTML in case you need it.

Both Home Page and Businesspage have several ways of creating links. This first version of Businesspage works with HTML 2.0, which means tables or frames cannot be made. Claris Home Page has many features, including tables and frames, of HTML 3.2. Businesspage has a homey feeling; Home Page is slicker.

If I were really designing a Web page, I would probably pick the Claris product, but judging from my limited experience, picking Myinternetbusinesspage would not be a mistake, as long as I did not have to type out its full name very often.

Pub Date: 11/04/96