Internet Text-only Tour
XML, CGI Perl, ActiveX (formerly OLE),
and Even Nastier Easily Mangled Acronyms
by Robert L. Seltman
The Extensible Markup Language XML is the muscle code that puts HTML in her proper place as only a beginner language for web designers. XML is for pros who have moved beyond MyHomePage web creation.XML is a sophisticated yet fundamentally 'simpler' language, a semantic/structured markup language more closely pinned to the language underlying HTML called SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) but less complex to learn. . . which translates to 'XML requires some getting use to BUT Can Be Learned.' For this, I suggest reading Elliotte Rusty Harold's XML book from IDG.
. . . Sorry for all the anoxic ALPHABET names, like XML, HTML, IDG, et al.
This stuff is decidedly for nerdesque code devotee. But learning it may be your ticket to a higher paying job. Playing with these mark-up languages may be the only way to learn for many of us.
Where does one go to play?
First go to the virtual playing field, using whatever software you can find, and build yourself a home page. All you really need is access to a computer, as parking a small website is free for those who know where to look.
See the very basic HTML methods I have linked. Soon you will master these skills, get bored, and want to move up to CGI. Common Gateway Interface resources are those common but cool gadgets like 'Mail this Page to a Friend buttons', Hit Counters, and those forms we use to spend our money on the Internet.
Your web host's server will need to handle CGI. As you learn more, who your web host is, and how they are set up, will become more important. At that time you will need to start to distinguish between UNIX, NT , Linux, Apple, and other types of servers and their software.
Familiarize yourself with a few pages specializing in CGI PERL or look at sample pages provided on the web.
Something a bit more dynamic?
DHTML is still another world to explore and there are several good tutorials online. DynamicHTML and other developments like ActiveX, again with plenty of webbased learning environments, as well as Java, are for precocious teenagers and other high-end users. These authoring languages are what make the web sing and dance, and hopefully economically viable (or so the e-business community prays).
In time, more and more people with have computers and browsers sophisticated enough to handle these subtler yet more exciting media oriented languages, but for now please read carefully my notes on HTML validation. Understanding more about designing your page with your target audience in mind is crucial.
Inevitably exploring the web, seeing what people are doing out there, and then trying it yourself is the way to go. Here are an assortment of links. Enjoy surfing, but remember to come back and start punching keys for yourself. How cool can a page be? With these ever expanding languages no one knows the limit of Internet creativity.
Care to find out how far you can go?
Visit these links created for professional web builders and try and match wits with the best.