Netscape Composer:  An Introduction

Tutorial 2:  Setting up your Page

    When you click on Composer to invoke the page editor function, you are presented with a new file that is essentially a blank page.  This is the starting point for your new web page.  We will begin by setting the basic page characteristics we will use for the page.

Background and Text Colors

One warning before we start:  all image files, sound files, video clips, etc. you plan to use for the page should reside IN THE SAME FOLDER.  Be sure your filing system is in order before you begin.  I will proceed with this and all other tutorials on the assumption that everything you need is assembled in the same folder.  It is indeed possible to scatter things around in different folders, but this will complicate your life.  Don't do it.

First, let's decide on the background for the page.  We can choose to use either a color or an image for the background.  To make your selections, click on "Format" then "Page Properties" (the last item at the bottom of the menu).  The dialogue box that opens up should look like this:
Notice that there are three tabs at the top of this dialogue box: 
  • General
  • Colors and Background
  • META tags
If you do not see this menu, click on the "Colors and Background" tab to bring it to the top.

To select a solid background color, click on the background box, which is now white.  A color palette will appear.  To select a color for your background, simply click on the color you want.  If this selection of colors is not sufficient for your tastes, click on "other" to bring up a full color palette.  You can fool with the colors by sliding the pointers (at the top and side) up and down the color spectrum until the color you want shows in the box below.  When you're satisfied, click "OK" to close the full color palette box.  The color you have selected will now appear in the background box.

Next, you'll want to select the colors for the text of your page.  You can accept the Netscape default colors (black text, blue link, red for an active link and purple for a followed link) as they appear here.  Or, you can look at various pre-set color schemes by clicking the down arrow next to the color schemes box:

You will find a number of predetermined sets of four colors that work together for text, links, active links and followed links.

If you're really adventurous, you can create your own combinations by clicking on each color box and selecting the color you want to use for text, links, active links and followed links.  The same color palettes are available for text and links as were available for choosing the background color.

You may decide you want to use a background image instead of a background color.  If you choose a background image, this selection will override any background color you may have previously made.  To insert a background image on your page, click the small white box in front of "Use Image."  A check mark should appear:

You can then type in the name of the background image file (be sure to include the extension, either .jpg or .gif) or, if you can't remember what it is, click on "Choose File" and select the file you want.  The Web is full of great sites for graphics, including backgrounds, buttons, icons, bars, clipart, etc.  Go wild!!  But -- the best web page is one that is easy to read.  That usually means a light background with darker text.  To view some real disasters, see the web site entitled Web Pages that Suck.

Finally, the last setting on the page says "Save these settings for new pages."  If you are planning to design a series of related pages, you may want to keep these same selections (background, text color) for all pages.  If you do, click in the check box.  A check mark will appear.  Then, each time you begin a new page, the same background and text colors will already be set.  Don't get excited and click OK yet -- we have one more step to go before we close this box.

Page Title

Look again at the three tabs at the top.  This time, click on the one that says "General."  The dialogue box that appears should look like this:
First, type in the title of the page.  This is not the first line that will appear in the white space of the page.  This is what will appear in the tiny, narrow blue strip at the very top of the screen, above all the menus and toolbars. 

Type in your name as the author. 

If you wish, the rest is optional, but helpful.  You can add a brief description of the page and some keywords that will help search engines ferret out your page.

Once you are satisfied that everything is ready (background, text colors, title), click the OK button at the bottom of the dialogue box.  Your settings will go into effect immediately.

Changing Page Properties

After working on a page for awhile, you may decide that you don't like the combination of background and colors you chose, or you may decide to change the title of your page.  At any time while you are working on a page, you can always change any of the settings.  Simply place your cursor anywhere on a blank space in the page and click the RIGHT mouse button.  The following menu should pop up:
Click on "Page Properties" and the box we just completed will pop back up, ready for you to make any changes you wish.

There, wasn't that easy?  Let's do some more.

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© 2000 by Pat Pecoy
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