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Creating a Link Page Part One

What is a link page?

A Link page helps people study a subject via the web quickly. Visit the Link Page Index for many examples of both good and bad link pages. Determine which pages are most helpful to you and emulate these qualities.

What are the challenges?

Actually creating a link page is easy. Choose an appropriate topic, discuss this topic with your friends, classmates, and teacher, and then begin to search the web for useful sites to add to your link page.

The trouble begins when you try and create a web page that can be easily accessed by people all over the world. We all need to be using the same language, both protocol language and written language, to communicate effectively. To understand the importance of a well designed link page, here are some of the technical factors behind a successful 'internationally friendly' web page.

Web page basics:

    Web pages need to be integrated into a web site. For example, this page you are reading is part of a web site called http://LOV-E.COM.

    Web sites are hosted on a server. A web server is a large computer running special web server software that allows computers to talk to each other. When you, the web client, request to be hosted on a server you arrange to have a certain amount of space (hard disc space, measured in gigabytes) in order to store your website.

    Hosts are usually companies that charge for their services, companies that provide hosting space for free (if you are willing to have their advertising on your pages), or large non-profit institutions like universities. In the case of Lov-e.com, though the pages are created in Kyoto Japan, the actual host computer is in Atlanta Georgia USA. Servers are turned on 24 hours a day to allow people to access your web page from anywhere at anytime.

    By using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) the pages are sent from your computer, by phone line via the internet to the host computer, where you download the pages you have created into your website. Each time you change your web page you need to access your web server via FTP software like Fetch, Anarchie, or the one that came with your browser. Protocols are the various languages of the World Wide Web, including FTP, TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol), telnet, WAIS (Wide-Area Information Servers), E-mail, Gopher, and others.

    Your pages need to be in a computer language known as HTML (HyperText Markup Language). Thanks to modern Web creation software like Adobe's GoLive or Macromedia's Dreamweaver or Microsoft's FrontPage you do not necessarily need to learn HTML to make a web page. . . But you should study the basics if you want to truly understand what is happening.

    Each page file needs to be named in such a way that they can be understood by the host computer. Some host computers use an operating system called DOS and many people browse the web on DOS-based computers. For this reason you should consider using the DOS file naming convention of eight characters for the names of your files plus three characters for the extension, for example YOURPAGE.HTM or ONLYTHIS.HTM. Also remember that UNIX. computers do not use any blanks or spaces so that MY PAGE must be typed as MYPAGE or MY_PAGE.

    Besides the languages spoken by the computers, there are the human languages to consider. There are generally two categories of languages, two-bit and one-bit. Simple alphabets, like the roman alphabet used for English, require around fifty letters and a few hundred symbols. But the two-bit languages like Chinese and Japanese, which have thousands of complex characters, need a completely different way for processing the written page.

    While most Japanese and Chinese browsers can read English text fairly well, the reverse is not always true. English created on most Japanese, Chinese, and other two-bit language word-processing software will be filled with glitches and unreadable characters unless the author has very carefully avoided non-standard characters. Even punctuation marks and spacing can be lost. For example, when using a Japanese operating system and word processor the type must be set for Western spacing, all embellishing marks like dots and accents need to be avoided ,and even still small glitches may occur.

    Therefore, it is very important from the very beginning that the author knows his or her target audience, and sets up the software to allow maximum readability. Also for accuracy, the web pages need to be tested in the target language browser, running on the target language's operating system. This is why true cross-cultural clarity on the web is such a challenge

    If the audience is to include the whole world, at present the best language for audience size is English. Chinese, Japanese, German, Spanish, and other languages gain more importance daily as these communities become more internet-friendly, but in each case a separate page needs to be written to address the needs of each language group.

    This site uses two languages, Japanese and English, but seldom on the same page. This is to ensure readability on operating systems not equipped for Japanese, which is by far the majority. When creating pages in a character languages, like Japanese or Chinese, include an English sentence to allow people from other language groups know why that page is un-readable on their computer; For example "Japanese fonts are needed to read this page, press here for English." Of course, having a translation of your page for all the different major languages would be best, but until translation software is perfected this will not be practical for most people. English remains the standard for most sites seeking international readership.

    To be completely effective, as a multi-lingual site, there are at least a dozen languages with populations in the hundreds of millions that should be considered. As the net grows, and computers become more affordable, other languages will gain proportionately. Of course, if your primary audience is Chinese, for example, then by all means use a Chinese word processor, a Chinese operating system, and a Chinese web browser to make your page. Yet the use of English, as a standard for international networking, particularly in the business, technological, and academic communities, is still key. There are many technical considerations for creating truly multilingual sites, but by adding English a step is taken to bridge the gap between your language culture and the broader internet community.

All about the author of this site: Robert L. Seltman
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