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Technical Tips and Guidelines
The following are suggestions for keeping your development process running smoothly and avoiding the most common pitfalls in building and uploading projects.
- Talk to one another. The importance of communication for the success of your project is immeasurable. Be certain to exchange uniqnames, if not telephone numbers, as you begin your project. As a group you should create a tentative schedule of deadlines for yourselves and a list of each member's specific responsibilities. For example, Amy might be responsible for scanning/capturing all images for the project and including their sources in bibliographic format that is available to all members as a Word document; Luís might be responsible for writing the text for the three pages on Latina/o art or some other subject; Erica might be responsible for designing the site's layout, and so forth. Determine these responsibilities as early as possible to avoid confusion and promote cooperation.
- Name your project's home page "index.html," and place this page in your main project directory. Your site will not work properly otherwise.
- Give every page of your project a descriptive title by using the <title> tag. This title appears at the top of the browser window when you view the page. The title of this page, for example, is "technicaltips." (Note that this HTML-coded title is distinct from any header--in this case "Technical Tips & Guidelines" --that may appear at the top of the actual page.) Providing this title will help you keep track of your pages as you build the site, and will help users navigate through the site when it is online. To create or edit the <title> tag in Dreamweaver, select "Modify" from the main menu, click on "Page Properties," and enter the title in the "Title" box.
- When setting up links to other pages within your own project site, use only relative URLs. Do not, in other words, enter the full web address of the page you are linking to, but rather only the path and filename relative to the location of the current file. This is important in assuring that your site works properly when it is uploaded to the AC213 web space. If the file you are linking to is located in the same folder as the current file, you need only enter the name of the target file. If the target file is located in a subdirectory of the current folder, enter the name of the subdirectory followed by a forward slash and the name of the target file (eg "images/picture2.gif"). Similarly, the relative URL for the link on your front page back to the AC213 home page will be "../../index.html" For further details, see this tutorial page on Relative URLs.
- Make sure that your site is entirely self-contained. While you are certainly welcome and encouraged to provide clickable links to other sites, the actual content of your site, including backgrounds, images, applets, as well as text, must all be contained in files in your AC213 student project folder. The appearance and operation of your site, in other words, should not be dependent on the presence of files either on your own personal server space or other servers on the web. The reason for this is that files on the web are always moving or disappearing. If your site depends on a particular background .gif file being available tomorrow where you found it today, your site will not be viable in the long term. If you want to use such a file, copy it first to your own project space, and refer to that copy of the file in your site pages.
- DO NOT place spaces between words when creating files or folders in UNIX. Unix will not recognize file names with spaces between words. For example, change "Latina/os and the media.html" to "Latina/os_and_the_media.html." Remember that this is also true for directory/folder names.
- Keep all images/folders/links consistent. If you are working on pages of your project individually, be sure to inform all members of your group of the names of the files you are using. If there are multiple (that is, updated) versions of files, indicate this clearly. For example, name a newer version of "murals.html" "murals2.html." This prevents confusion and frustration.
- Create separate folders to organize your site AS YOU WORK. If you are designing a site on Latina/o Music, you might create a 'home' folder to house your index.html file (home page), a 'history' folder to house your pages containing information about the history of Latina/o music, a 'regional' folder to contain information about different regional styles of music, and an 'image' folder to house all images used throughout the site. This will help your editor collate all files.
- Use .html as the extension for all web-page files. This will prevent confusion: 'htm' and 'html' extensions are NOT the same, and Unix will not recognize them as such.
- Check/change all links for consistency after every site alteration. Consistency is key here. A misspelling will result in a broken link.
- Designate a team leader or site editor. This person will be responsible for gathering all images, folders, and html files from each group member so that they can be collated and edited. It is crucial that every group member communicate with this editor.
- UNIX IS CASE SENSITIVE. This means that if you name a "file woman.JPG" and create a link in your html file to "woman.jpg," the image file WILL NOT APPEAR. This is another reason why communication is so essential.
- DO NOT use software that is not supported at U-M. The campus computing sites come equipped with a number of quality web-authoring software packages (see the summary of their features provided elsewhere on this site). Other web-authoring software, in our experience, tends to cause serious problems that ITD staff will likely be unable to help you as you approach your deadline. The use of Dreamweaver is strongly recommended for all AC213 project sites.
- Use FTP rather than the 'H' drive to transfer files. FTP (or 'Fetch' on Mac platforms) is more reliable than the 'H' drive for transferring files. Note: if you create jpg files on Mac platforms, the extension on PC platforms will often read ".jpge." This must be changed to ".jpg" or ".JPG."
- Use UM web-based email to exchange .html files via e-mail. Web-based email easily allows you to send html, image, and other files electronically as attachments. This is the easiest way to share files with a group member who is not present.
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(Some of this information is brought to you courtesy of Professor David Porter, who developed a number of website production resources for his course on 18th century England. If you'd like to take a look at some really exciting examples of what you can do with this projectcheck out his class website, Eighteenth Century England).