This article will discuss an amazingly easy way to create modern websites using a cool thing I just found out about.
But, like most of my articles, we begin with a long, rambling story about my history with the web…
I built my first HTML web page in 1995, I think. It was the early and crude days of the World Wide Web. I remember having my first public website (which we all called “home pages” back then) on a free service called GeoPages. This server was later renamed to GeoCities and was eventually acquired by Yahoo!
Here is the Wikipedia entry with some of the history. It’s quite interesting seeing where things began:
According to a news article referenced by Wikipedia, the name change happened in December 1995. I wish I still had copies of my first home page, but space was limited back then so few of us kept earlier versions of the things we did.
At some point, I moved my home page from GeoCities to Delphi, and it stayed there for awhile before I finally archived it to my own domain. It looks like I last updated it in 2000, so here is an archive of my old site that begin in 1995:
Those were the days! HTML 1.0!
In those days, HTML was edited by hand in a text editor. I used the umacs editor on a SunOS workstation, and later, umacs for MS-DOS on a Toshiba laptop. I wrote several programs in C to help me built more complex sites by using template files and includes. I basically created a C-style “#ifdef”, “#include” and “#define” preprocessor for HTML, and also added variables.
If I wanted a consistent header and/or footer at the top of every page, I could create a file like “TOP.TEM” (top template) with that code, and then in my page files (INDEX.TEM, ABOUT.TEM, LINKS.TEM) I would do a “#include TOP.TEM”. When I ran my preprocessor, it would parse the files and generate the actual .HTM files. (Ah, those lousy days in the PC world where file names were limited to eight letters and a three letter extension!)
For variables, I could create a “#define EMAIL email@example.com” in a template, and then anywhere the text “%EMAIL%” appeared in the file would get replaced with “firstname.lastname@example.org”. It let me make global changes to my site and rebuild in seconds.
Years later, I would purchase the expensive Macromedia Dreamweaver, which is today known as Adobe Dreamweaver. (Hmmm, why is everything I use acquired by someone else?) This industrial strength web editor finally allowed me to edit in a more visual mode rather than raw HTML coding.
But, even though it added the concept of Library items and Templates, it was (and still is!) so far slower when generating a site than my ancient 1995 preprocessor.
But it looks much nicer and is easier to use.
Up next: From home page to hosting…