Writing for the Web: A Primer for Librarians
by Eric H. Schnell
There are still many exciting technical advances
which are changing the structure of the Web. Newer
developments such as Dynamic Documents, Java, and PDF are
already beginning to impact the manner in which Web resources
are created. The integration of multimedia materials is also
changing the format which information is transmitted, moving
from a text-based to a visually-based medium. There are many other changes occurring which may
impact the creation of Web documents.
Dynamic content is changing the Web from being a passive medium to a more interactive one. Dynamic HTML (DHTML) enables control over content presentation and behavior, regardless of browser, or operating environment. This includes static properties that control the presentation, both visual and verbal, of an element as well as more dynamic properties that can be used to alter the appearance, position, behavior, or display of an element after the contents are fully loaded.
The Document Object Model (DOM) is a simple,
hierarchical naming system that makes all of the objects in
a Web page, such as images, accessible to
"object" that represents the page. All of the objects
contained within the page, like images, "branch off" of
this document object. The whole point of the DOM is
to mirror the markup on the page that allows programs and scripts to access and update the content, structure,
and style of documents in a standard way.
In April 1997, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) proposed a new Web specification called the Extensible Markup
XML is designed as a compromise between the simplicity of HTML and
the flexibility of SGML. It is also being referred to as generic SGML.
The primary advantage of XML is it allows Web authors to create their
own markup tags. These tags can be as simple or as complex as the
author requires. For example, data can be marked with a tag such as
<online catalog>, so they're easier
to identify. Finally, XML includes features such as bidirectional and
location-independent links and transclusion, where a linked
document appears a part of the current one.
Other developments which will affect the future
applications of the Web includes the development of a programming
language called the Virtual Reality Modeling Language
remote users can interact with a Web site using an interactive interface.
While still considered experimental, libraries could soon provide users with a 3-D
version of their Web space using VRML which look just like their physical library
facilities. What will be more likely is that libraries will be providing access
to 3-D models of anatomic parts. The practicality of such services, and the ability for libraries to develop such resources will depend solely on having the technical
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