Skip to main content.

Web Based Programming Tutorials

Homepage | Forum - Join the forum to discuss anything related to programming! | Programming Resources

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating an HTML Web Page

Chapter 19 -- Getting Your Web Words Online with America Online

Chapter 19

Getting Your Web Words Online
with America Online


America Online (AOL) is the largest of the big-time online services and they achieved this exalted status the old-fashioned way: They earned it. How? Well, for starters, they sent out copies of the AOL software to, it seems, every person on the planet. If you've got a pulse, you've probably received an AOL disk in the mail. Maybe even twice. Toss in all those freebie copies of the software that appear in computer magazines and we're all drowning in AOL disks. "Okay, okay, I'll join! Just stop sending me disks!" (This aggressive marketing approach does have its drawbacks however: disk dancers. These are (usually) kids who install the AOL software, use up the free time, and then move on to another disk.)

Another reason AOL has been so successful is its unabashed embrace of all things on the Internet. AOL members can e-mail Internet types without having to jump through a bunch of hoops; they can read Usenet newsgroups, tunnel to Gopher sites, FTP files, and, of course, surf the Web. That's pretty impressive, but the AOL brain trust isn't content to rest on these Net laurels. They continue to push the online envelope by offering not one, but two choices for publishing pages on the Web. This chapter gives you the details on both choices.

America Online's Web Page Publishing Possibilities

AOL Web wannabes have two ways to create their own pages and get them on the Web: My Home Page and My Place. Although you can always switch from one service to another down the road, you'll save yourself some time if you decide now which of the two you want to use.

My Home Page is a simple, step-by-step method for creating a page. It's definitely a no-frills approach, but it just may be the easiest way to get a home page up and surfing. Here's what you get with My Home Page:

The second Web page service is called My Place. This is a more full-featured service for people whose Web plans are more ambitious than a single page. Here's the deal with My Place:

So which one should you choose? Well, if all you want to do is slap up a quick home page, then My Home Page should do the job. However, since you bought this book (thanks!), I assume you don't mind wrestling with a bit of HTML in order to gain more control over your pages. In that case, the My Place service is probably more up your alley.

Working with My Home Page

Let's check out the My Home Page service and see how you can use it to crank out a quick home page for yourself. Sign in to America Online and then head for the keyword MyHomePage. (That is, you pull down the Go To menu, select the Keyword command, enter MyHomePage in the Keyword dialog box, and then select the Go button.) AOL displays the Personal Publisher window, as shown in the following figure.

The Personal Publisher window is your jumping-off point for creating and editing My Home Page.

To get started, slam the Create/Edit My Home Page button. AOL gathers info from your member profile and then displays it in the Create/Edit My Home Page window, shown on the next page. (In case you're wondering, the Searchable by section tells AOL who can view your page; I'll talk more about it later, in the section called "Editing My Home Page.")

My Home Page begins with your member profile data.

Adding Text, Links, and Graphics

Your member profile is a good start, but even the raciest profile makes for dull reading. To crank things up a notch on the old variety-is-the-spice-of-life meter, throw in a few extras, such as graphics and hypertext links. To try this, select the Add button at the bottom of the window. The new window that appears (see next page) lets you jazz up your page by adding text, links, graphics, and sounds.

Plan Your Page!
Keep in mind that the order you add your text, links, graphics, and sounds is the order they appear in the page. There's not a whole lot you can do to change this order, either, so you might want to take a minute or two before diving in and plan out where you want every-thing to appear.

Tossing in Some Text

If you want to include an introductory message, or some jokes, or a first draft of your latest short story, you can use the Add Text section (see the previous figure) to add a chunk of prose to the page. Just enter the text in the To add text type in box area. You can be as verbose as you like, and you can start new paragraphs by pressing Enter. This text appears below your member profile.

Inserting a Link

If you scroll down the page a bit, you'll stumble upon the Add Link section (see the figure on the next page). You use this area to insert a hypertext link into your page. (The link will appear below the text you entered in the last section.) To set up the link, you fill in the following three options:

Select the type of link you want to add  Use this drop-down list to specify the type of link you're inserting. You have three choices: Web URL, Inline Image URL, and AOL Keyword. (Note that, for the latter, only folks surfing your site using the AOL browser will be able to link to the AOL site given by the keyword.)
Type in Web URL or keyword in box  Use this text box to enter a Web URL, the name of a graphics file (this is, usually, the name of a file you've uploaded to AOL; see the next section), or an AOL keyword.
Type a description about this place on the Web or AOL in box  Use this text box to enter the link text.

Sending a Multimedia File to AOL

If you'd like to brighten your Web page with a well-chosen graphic image, you first need to send the file to AOL. That's what the Upload Multimedia File section (shown in the following figure) is all about. (Upload means to send a file from your computer to another computer; as you might expect, it's the opposite of download.) You use it to send a graphics file (GIF or JPEG; see Chapter 8) or even a sound file (which is why it's called the Upload Multimedia File section) to your AOL storage area. You can then insert this image or sound in your Web page (which I'll show you how to do in the next section).

Here are the steps to follow to send a multimedia file to AOL:

  1. Enter the name of the file in the Type in the name of the file to uploaded (sic) text box. Technically, the name you enter is the name the file will have once it's been shipped to the AOL FTP site.
  2. Select the Upload Multimedia File button. A new Uploading File "filename" window appears, where filename is the name of the file you entered (see below).
  3. Click on the filename. AOL displays the Upload File dialog box.
  4. Choose the Select File button, highlight the file in the Attach File dialog box that appears, and then select OK.
  5. Select the Send button. AOL grabs the file and then displays the File Transfer dialog box when it's done.
  6. Select OK.

Adding a Multimedia File to Your Page

After you transport an image or sound file to AOL, you can insert it into your page. Here's how it's done:

  1. At the bottom of the Create/Edit My Home Page window, select the Add button to return to the adding window.
  2. Scroll down to the Add Multimedia File section (shown in the figure below).
  3. If you uploaded multiple files, highlight the one you want from the Select a multimedia file (sound or graphic) to add list.
  4. Use the Type in description of this file in box area to enter a description of the file. This description appears below the image on your page.
  5. Use the Select position of this file on your page drop-down list to select the position of the file on the page (After Personal Information or Before Personal Information).
  6. Use the Select how this file is displayed on your page list to select how the file will be displayed (On Your Page or As A Link).

Seeing the Changes to Your Page

When you're done, select the See My Changes button (it's at the bottom of the screen) to eyeball your updated page. To continue from here, the bottom of your home page gives you the following buttons:

Save Changes  Saves the changes you've made in this session.
Edit  Allows you to make changes to the page (see the next section).
Add  Allows you to continue adding text, links, and multimedia files.
Cancel Changes  Wipes out the changes you've made since the last time you saved the page.
Delete  Deletes the home page off the face of the earth.

Editing My Home Page

If you make a mistake or just want to update the info on your page, AOL makes it easy to edit every aspect of your page. To see how, select the Edit button at the bottom of the Create/Edit My Home Page window. The new window that appears (see the figure below) presents the following sections for adjusting your page:

Information About Me  This is your member profile info and you adjust it by adding to or editing what's in the text boxes. In particular, look for an option named You can choose who can view your Home Page at the bottom of the section. (The option you select appears in the Searchable by section of My Home Page.) If you want to give both AOLers and Internet types access to your home page, activate the AOL and Internet option; to mark your page as "AOL-only," activate the AOL members option; if you only want to see the page yourself, activate the myself only option.
Edit Text  One of these sections appears for each chunk of text you added. Select the delete option if you want to get rid of the text; otherwise, select update and edit the text shown in the box.
Edit Link  One of these sections appears for each link you added. Again, activate delete to blow away the link, or activate update and make your changes to the link info.
Edit Multimedia File  One of these sections appears-you guessed it-for each multimedia file you inserted in the page. Choose the delete option to expunge the file from your page; otherwise, select update and adjust any of the following options: To edit your file description type changes in box, Select position of this file on your page, and Select how this file is displayed on your page.

When you're done, select the See My Changes button to, well, see your changes. If you'd rather not update the page, select the Undo Changes button instead.

What's Your My Home Page URL?
If you want to surf over to your new page (or if you want to tell others how to get there), here's the general form for the My Home Page URL:
Here, ScreenName is your AOL screen name. For example, my screen name is PaulMcF, so my URL is the following:

Making My Place Your Web Home

My Home Page is certainly the easiest method for creating a home page that we've seen so far. You have a nice variety of content (profile, text, links, images, and sounds) and it's all done without an HTML code in sight. It's certainly not perfect, though. In particular, My Home Page suffers from three glaring problems:

The solution to all these problems is to ignore My Home Page altogether and move into My Place, instead. My Place is for full-fledged Web engineers who don't mind getting their hands dirty with HTML (or who have their own HTML editing software that they use to construct pages). My Place is really just a storage location for your Web documents. You create everything on your own and then send it off to My Place.

Assuming you have some HTML stuff you want to put online, let's see how you go about sending it to AOL. I'll divide the process into two steps: accessing your FTP directory from AOL and uploading files.

Accessing Your AOL FTP Directory

For each member, AOL sets aside 2 MB of disk space on its FTP site (this is called the member's FTPspace). My Place is, essentially, any and all Web-related files (HTML documents, graphics files, and so on.) that exist in your FTP directory. Here are the steps to follow to upload files from your computer to the AOL FTP site:

  1. Sign in to AOL, if you haven't done so already.
  2. Pull down the Go To menu, select Keyword, enter FTP in the Keyword dialog box, and then select OK. AOL displays the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) window.
  3. Select the Go To FTP button. The Anonymous FTP window appears, as shown on the next page.
  4. Select the Other Site button.
  5. In the Site Address text box, enter followed by your screen name (e.g.,
  6. Select Connect. AOL displays the Connected dialog box.
  7. Select OK. A new window appears, showing your AOL FTP directory (see the following figure).

A Faster Way to Get Here from There
That's a lot of steps just to log in to an FTP site! To save wear and tear on your typing fingers, you can set up your FTP directory as one of your Favorite Places. With your FTP directory window on screen, all you do is select the Window menu's Add to Favorite Places command. Then, the next time you want to log in, open the Favorite Places window (by selecting the Go To menu's Favorite Places command), highlight the FTP directory, and then select the Connect button.

Uploading Files to Your FTP Directory

Now that you've arrived safely in your FTP directory, your next step is to furnish My Place with some HTML files. Here's how it's done:

  1. In the FTP directory window, select the Upload button. AOL displays the dialog box.
  2. In the Remote Filename text box, enter the name you want to use for the file (that is, this will be the name of the file as it appears in the AOL FTP directory).
  3. If you're sending a plain text file (such as an HTML document), activate the ASCII (text document) option. For all other files, make sure the Binary (programs and graphics) option is selected.
  4. Select the Continue button. The Upload File dialog box appears.
  5. Choose the Select File button to display the Attach File dialog box.
  6. Highlight the file you want to send and then select OK. AOL returns you to the Upload File dialog box.
  7. Select the Send button. AOL displays a dialog box when the transfer is complete.
  8. Select OK.
  9. Repeat Steps 2-8 to upload more files.
  10. When you're done, select Cancel in the dialog box. The files you sent now appear in your FTP directory.
  11. Close the FTP window.

What's Your My Place URL?
My Place uses a different URL than My Home Page:
Here, ScreenName is your AOL screen name, and filename is the name of your home page. For example:

The Least You Need to Know

This chapter showed you how to use America Online's My Home Page and My Place services to get your Web work online. Here's a look at what the heck happened: