Setting Up A School Website: What makes a School Website "cool and compelling?"

The following elements have been seen as website components that make the site attractive to the visitor:

Let's deal with several of these issues individually.


Imagemaps add interactivity and a professional look to any website, but they require some knowledge of how the Common Gateway Interface, or CGI-BIN, works. Using an editor such as Mapedit, hotspots on an image are mapped out, allowing the user to click on the image in order to bring up some other page on the website or on the internet. The hot spots are actually saved in a map file, which, like HTML, is simple ASCII text, and it is comprised of coordinates on a grid that is in reality the image being mapped. One uploads both the map file and the image to the web server. With the correct code, a user's click allows the map file to be interpreted by a program within the web server. One must check with the Internet service provider as to which imagemap interpreter is present and about its location (which directory is it in?) in order to configure the URL's code correctly. the resulting map file must be uploaded to an active CGI-BIN directory, which is made active by the server administrator of the ISP. So, as you can see, imagemaps are cool, but they require a little patience. Once you have one up and running, replicating the effort is easy.

An imagemap

At left, an imagemap
being created within Mapedit.

A text file containing the imagemap coordinates

The imagemap's
corresponding map file.

The syntax for the URL that points to the script that runs the imagemap might look something like the following:

<a href="/cgi-bin/imagemap/nhhs/cgi-bin/"> <img align=center border=0 SRC="newnorth.gif" ISMAP alt="Imagemap: A photo of North High and map of Maryland with key links of the NHHS Website. The links are also listed below."></a>

Here we see a partial URL pointing first to the CGI directory of the ISP, where there is a subdirectory for the imagemap interpreter. Then the path to the map file is added (/nhhs/cgi-bin/ Then the image source for the image is listed (newnorth.gif), and then the tag that tells the browser that it is looking at an imagemap, that of ISMAP. An alt tag is given for non-graphical browsers. Again, inquire with your server administrator to locate the cgi-bin's imagemap interpreter and to activate your own cgi-bin directory.

For browsers such a Netscape 2.0 or later and Internet Explorer 3.0 or later, one can be released from the requirement of going through the ISP server for an imagemap effect. Using something known as the "client-side" imagemap, one can even use Mapedit to develop a map file, but instead of the ISMAP tag, one uses the USEMAP tag along with code that might look like the following:

This is an example of a client-side image map[3]

<h2>This is an example of a client-side image map.</h2> <MAP NAME="menu"> <AREA SHAPE="RECT" COORDS="0,0,99,49" HREF="Item1.htm"> <AREA SHAPE="RECT" COORDS="100,0,200,49" HREF="Item2.htm"> <AREA SHAPE="RECT" COORDS="200,0,299,49" HREF="Item3.htm"> </MAP> <IMG SRC="menu.gif" USEMAP="#menu">

The resulting code will have the following effect:

This is an example of a client-side image map.

Imagemap: see text links
The ISMAP and USEMAP tag can be used for the same imagemap to reach the widest number of browsers. Be sure to include text-based links for those surfing with images off or for those using LYNX, the text-based web browser.

  • Guestbooks

    Guestbooks are an application of the use of forms, wherby the user "puts" some information in the server. The output is the text that is entered on a guestbook page. In this instance, a script (a series of complied computer commands) is placed i n the CGI-BIN directory that carries out the functions of the guestbook. The programming language of most scripts on the web today is Perl 5, and these scripts can be downloaded and used for little or no cost. Only the variables that are unique to the ISP 's webserver need to be amended. The guestbook page is actually just an HTML page, but the form must point to the location of the Perl script.

    One great resource for easy to configure scripts is Matt's Script Archive. All Matt asks is that you give him credit on your guestbook page. To see a guestbook in action, please visit and sign North High's guestbook!

  • Animated Graphics

    Animated graphics have taken the web by storm. They are often mistaken for Java applets, but they do not require the programming skills called for by Java. Using any image editor such as Paint Shop Pro, one can develop a series of original GIF files, and by using a wonderful program called GIF Construction Set, one can save all the individual image files as one file known as a GIF89a. Voila! Animated graphics on your school's web pages!

    There are many artists sharing their animated art so you won't have to create any. But part of the challenge of webmastering is the generation of creativity within oneself and one's students. Besides, posting original art on one's website is always better than transferring data from someone else's (IMHO). No, I did not develop the image you see here (sorry!)

  • Interesting layout: Using Tables
  • Tables are the saving grace of web design because they are often used to align images and text without the viewer knowing it. Almost all professional websites consist of a conglomeration of images and text that has been arranged by the use of tables. The webmasters add the attribute border=0 within their table syntax and the outline of the table becomes invisible (this ca n be done with images as well in order to remove the hypergraphical blue border that surrounds clickable images). A simple table can be seen below since one has been set up as the navigational table for this web page.

    To see the borderless table in action, one from my own personal page will be recreated here. First you will see the HTML code, and then the resulting image alignment as it appears on my own page:

    <table width=132 border=0><tr><td><table width=133 border=0 cellpadding=0 cellspacing=0><tr><td valign=center><IMG SRC="/nhhs/gif/geoben.gif"></tr><tr><td valign=center><IMG SRC="/nhhs/gif/lilgeo.gif"><IMG SRC="/nhhs/gif/lilben.gif"></td></tr></table></td><td><table border=0><tr><td>Can you believe these guys are dizygotic twins?</td></tr> </table><td><tr></table><hr>

    the results:

    little Georgelittle Ben
    Can you believe these guys are dizygotic twins?

    For comments on what makes for good HTML and examples of school website ideas, click on this link, and take a look.

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    *Getting The Word Out: "If you build it, they will come."

    George Cassutto's Cyberlearning World

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