Creating Personal Web Pages

at St. John's and St. Ben's

Monastics, employees, and students at St. John's and St. Ben's can have their own World-Wide Web pages. If you would like to have a home page, this introduction will help you get started.


Know the policy

The Human Resources department at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University has instituted a Personal Web Page Policy. What this means for you is:

If you violate this policy, your web page may be removed. If you want to set up a commercial web page, you should investigate a commercial Internet Service Provider such as Cloudnet.

Get a network account

If you are thinking about getting a home page, the first thing to do is to make sure you have a network account. Computer network accounts are free, and every student automatically has one. Most employees who work with computers already have a network account as well. If you do not already have an account, or if you have an account but have forgotten your password, contact Information Technology Services. Their office is on the ground floor of the Quad at St. John's, Room 080, across from Benet Hall. Their phone number is 2228.

Explore the Net

Of course you can surf the Net in Netscape or Internet Explorer, but have you tried Lynx?

Lynx is a text-only browser. You won't get to see pictures or hear sound files with Lynx, but it is often faster than graphical browsers.

And why should you become familiar with Lynx when about 80% of the people on the Net use Netscape or MSIE? Well, there are the other 20% who do not or cannot use those two browsers. Something that looks good in the latest version of MSIE may look horrible in any other browser, or, worse, may be completely inaccessible. And it is estimated that 20-30% of the people who have graphical browsers regularly surf the Net with images turned off. In one survey of 1000 randomly selected Internet users, "fully one-third of all web users indicated they turn their graphics browsers off at least some of the time". Bottom line is, unless you're willing to turn away 40% or more of your potential visitors, it's wise to design your pages to be viewable with any browser.

Whether you are using Lynx, Netscape, or Microsoft Internet Explorer, you can make bookmarks for your favorite pages. (In Lynx, type the letter a.) If you add an Internet site to your bookmarks, you can look at that page again, anytime you want, without going through all the steps it took to find it the first time.

Find your niche

If you just want to visit your favorite places on the Internet, a set of bookmarks is enough. But if you want to have your own home page, ask yourself what original contribution you can make. Are you an artist or musician? Do you write well? Are you an expert on something? What do you do for fun? The last thing that the Internet needs is another boring home page that only has links to the same things we can find on a million other pages. Or, to put it more positively, original content keeps visitors coming back.

Learn HTML

When you have decided what you want to say and considered your audience, you will need to learn how to create documents in HTML. Netscape 3.* Gold and Communicator, and later, include a so-called WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) HTML editor, called Netscape Composer. And Microsoft FrontPage 2002 has been installed on networked NT/2K workstations. But it is best to learn how to mark up documents in HTML without a special computer program. If you do it yourself, at least a few times,

It is not difficult to learn the basics of HTML markup. The two best introductions are:

A great resource for beginners is Eric A. Meyer's Introduction to HTML. This tutorial both explains concepts and walks you through the process of writing HTML, with interactive quizzes at the end of chapters. For more tips on both the planning and technical aspects of creating web pages, you might want to look through Internet Resources for WWW Content Providers, a survival kit assembled for the people who contribute WWW pages to the Order of St. Benedict's web site.

You can see the results of your formatting and check your links without putting your file on the Internet. Save your file to your hard drive, a diskette, or your M drive. To see how Netscape will display your file, go into Netscape, and under the word "File", pull down the mouse to "Open File", and then select the file you wish to see. In MSIE, under "File", pull down the mouse to "Open", and then select "Open File".

Get space on our web servers

When you have something you would like other people to be able to see, it is time to get your home page.

The College of St. Benedict and St. John's University have three web servers for personal pages. Two are Windows NT servers; one is UNIX. You cannot have web sites on both the UNIX web server and an NT server. If you live off-campus and your computer cannot run FrontPage 2002, or if you are a computer science student, you can put your personal web page on the UNIX server. All other personal web pages are hosted on one of the NT servers.

Monastics and employees: Set up your page on the employees NT server

If you are a member of either monastery, a faculty member, on staff, or an administrator, you may use web space on the "employees" NT server for your personal web pages. If you use the NT server, the only way you can get pages up on the web is to use Microsoft FrontPage 2002. This software has been loaded on networked NT/2K workstations.

The URL of your home page will take the form:

where "username" is your Windows 9x/NT/2K user name.

Students: Set up your page on the students NT server

Unless you are a computer science student, or live off-campus and can't use FrontPage, your personal web pages would go on the NT server for students.

You must ask IT Services to give you room on the server for your personal web site.

If you use the NT server, the only way you can get pages up on the web is to use Microsoft FrontPage 2002. This software has been loaded on networked NT/2K workstations.

The URL of your home page will take the form:

where "username" is your Windows 9x/NT/2K user name, and the "u" (after "students") is the first character of your user name.

Computer science students and some off-campus users: Get a UNIX account

Many of the computer science courses offered here require a UNIX account, and anyone who has a UNIX account can set up a personal web site on the UNIX server. Others: if you live off-campus and can't use FrontPage at home, you can have your personal web pages hosted on the UNIX server.

So, you will need to get a UNIX account if you don't already have one. Again, this is free to anyone who asks. Set up an appointment to talk with Jim Gramke in Information Technology Services. His phone number is 2785, and his office is in Quad 092A. It is best to choose a different password for your UNIX account than the one you use for your network account. Jim Gramke will e-mail you a quick reference file about UNIX commands. At this point, you may also want to consult his Help Sheets. They may tell you more about UNIX than you ever wanted to know, but in many ways he takes up where I leave off, with more detailed instructions on how to use your UNIX account, depending on whether you have a PC or a Mac.

While you are on campus, there are several ways to work with your UNIX account. If you have a UNIX account because you can't run FrontPage, you can connect to your UNIX account from off-campus via SSH or ftp. If you SSH in, you can edit files directly, but you would have to learn UNIX commands and one of two editing systems (pico or vi).

The first time you use your UNIX account, in the directory "www-docs" there will be a file called "index.html". It is an example of what you can do with HTML, and gives some hints and instructions. I suggest you transfer this file to your computer or diskette, and give it a different name. Ordinarily you will call your home page "index.html". The files that you want other people to see must be placed in the www-docs directory. Remember to use ftp ASCII for plain text files only. If you are transferring images, zipped files, sound files, etc., use ftp binary.

The URL of your home page will take the form:

where "username" is your UNIX user name.

Check your pages

If your personal web page is more than a bookmarks file, you want to invite visitors, right? IT Services has put together a checklist of basic usability tips. Although the methods described there apply to FrontPage users, the principles are the same for anyone.

I also strongly recommend that you check your HTML for errors with a validation service. If something isn't working quite right, a validator will help you spot any errors in syntax, so that you can fix the page.

Blow your own horn

When you have gone through all the trouble to thoughtfully design your web page, collect material, write, edit, and even learn new tricks on the computer, that is quite an accomplishment. You will want other people to be able to find your page, so you have to publicize your work. To start, you can add your page to the directory of personal pages at CSB/SJU. allows you to send information about your web page to the most important search engines, and links to the two most important directories. You might also search for web pages that are similar to yours, and ask their owners to consider adding a link to you.

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