I wrote this article for TechTarget about the fabulous Web Wizard and its uses
for mass PDF conversion and quick web publishing of existing documents. This is a "classic" post but it's a great feature that bears re-posting about.
- supports Windows, Linux, and Mac (not sure if Linux or Mac can be the host) - supports sharing a presentation, or my desktop, or a collaborative whiteboard - supports audio and video (with some webcams)
No download for the participants, just the host. They use Flash.
There's a "Collaboration" link on the client side that just processed
for a while and didn't give me anything. I'm desperately hoping that
that is a to-be-implemented feature that lets me manipulate files on client computers or
vice versa. That's a huge, huge nice-to-have for me, bordering on essential. I don't know for sure that it doesn't exist, but I haven't found it yet or found info on it since I'm not sure how broadly to interpret the word "share". I'll update this post when I find out.
I am seriously impressed. I've fallen too soon for other software that turned out to not have what I needed (and plenty that had what I needed but for a robust price), so I'm taking it slow this time. But I think Dimdim Is the One.
Here's what the main window looks like for the presenter. I tried it on two client computers, Windows XP and Novell Suse (that's the gibberish in the chat window that I typed just to try it out).
Audio worked with my Creative Live! Webcam with voice, video didn't.
I want to mention again my ongoing plans to provide all sorts of services through collaboration software, hopefully DimDim. These are in the near future; rates will be announced with the services.
Support -- Got an issue you want help figuring out? Send a request to my calendar for a time, upload the file to the collaboration software or email it to me, and I'll help you with the problem document or task.
Tutoring -- Want to learn something, like mail merges or styles or pivot tables? Just make an appointment and you'll get one-on-one attention.
Remote custom training for groups -- If you just want a few hours of training at a time (which makes it less practical to fly me in) or you have employees in many locations who need training, remote training makes a lot of sense. Contact me to plan topics and dates. We can use DimDim or your own collaboration tool such as WebEx, GotoMeeting, or ReadyTalk.
Regularly scheduled seminars -- I'll ask for requests, then schedule short (half-hour to two-hour) seminars on scheduled topics. Costs for these per person would be lower than signing up for tutoring.
Regularly scheduled free seminars -- I'll schedule free half-hour or hour-long seminars periodically on popular topics like mail merge, configuration, considerations for planning a transition, etc.
I know I should probably be using Nvu or just hand coding everything in HTML or using cascading style sheets.
But for those of us who still redesign our web sites on Saturday morning while listening to Car Talk and Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me, I wanted to talk about what I did for my site at www.getopenoffice.org. Since it worked out pretty well, to my not-that-artistic mind. At least, it's vaguely pleasant and not Five Bright Colors of the Same Shade. Click to see a bigger version if you like.
I was pretty happy with what I was able to do, how I was able to design the colors, and I'm stoked with the image map. It turned out in a far more normal, controlled way than I usually experience. So for all of you out there who are a little fuzzy on web design but do it anyway, here are some features I think you can use for some pretty decent results.
I'm not here to talk about how FAAAbulous the new design is, but to focus on the steps I used in OpenOffice.org to do it. It's also by no means a lesson on web design—I'm just showing what I was able to do in a morning (OK, a long morning) in OpenOffice.org, and hoping it helps other people.
Creating my own colors
Cool drawing shapes for nav bar
Reasonably well-behaved HTML editing in Web documents (HTML purists, just let me go with this ;> )
By the way: I'm sooooo sorry for the bright blue design at www.getopenoffice.org for the past few months. I got the templates from a free templates site and it just didn't work.
Getting the Design
Side story: Kristin started her literary agency maybe four years ago, and she lives in Denver, not New York. She's made incredible progress, including selling the film rights to many of the books. If you've got some marketable fiction and you're looking for an agent, consider her.
So, armed with the ideas “maroon!” and “taupe!” and figuring I would just use the same simple top/side navigation style, I continued to the beginnings of implementation.
Creating the Colors
One of the wonderful things about OpenOffice.org is that you can create your own colors. So I chose Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org > Colors, and created my maroon and my taupe. The far right color, and the ones on the bottom, are various colors I created for the site.
I did various shades of maroon, a lighter one for a bit of shadow and contrast, and a few different taupes for the nav area, the text in the nav area (nearly black), and other taupes for shading and for the background color of the page.
To create your own colors:
1. Choose Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org > Colors. Click on the Edit button in the colors window. Click the image to see a bigger version if you like.
2. Then mess around in those windows with the various settings til you get what you want.
3. Then click OK, click Add, and name the new color.
Creating the Nav Graphic
I went into OpenOffice.org Draw and after some fiddling with colors and fonts, came up with the navigation graphic, including all the text along the left and top. It's in two separate chunks, for the top and the left side.
I used this beveled rectangle tool to draw the navigation shape at the top, and just used a couple graphics behind each other in different colors for the other shading.
I exported each of the two graphics just by selecting the components of each, choosing File > Export, and exporting to .gif. Other options of course are JPG, PNG, etc.
Creating the Web Page Master
I created a new web page (File > New > HTML Document). I inserted an eight-inch-wide table in the center (well, kind of ;> ) of the document to control where the graphics and text go. The table was two rows and three columns, no heading, with a left column of 2 inches, a middle spacer column of 1 inch, and then the rest. Click to see a bigger image of the setup window here if you like.
Then I merged the top row of cells, where the top nav graphic is going, to end up with something like this.
And I also removed the table borders.
Adding the Graphic to a Document and Additional Formatting
I just chose Insert > From File and added the top graphic in the top merged row, and the left graphic in the left cell. I right-clicked on each graphic and set it to Original Size since there was some wackiness with automatic size reduction.
I also right-clicked on each graphic and choose Anchor > As Character to get rid of extra space below them.
Some extra white space showed at the bottom of the nav bar because of the formatting of the apparently nonchangeable Table Contents paragraph style. However, this wasn't an issue when browsing the document.
I also set the background color of the cells to match the graphic in them; the spacer and right lower cells were set to white since they'll have text and I want a white background.
I made the page background color a lighter taupe. (I chose Format > Page and clicked the Background tab.)
And I set the page size nice and big so that there would be plenty of room for the graphics. Same window, Format > Page and choose the Page tab.
Doing the Image Map: Linking Portions of Each Graphic to the Pages on My Web Site
I right-clicked on the top nav bar graphic and chose Image Map.
In the Image Map window, I used the rectangle tool to draw a box around each piece of text on the graphic that I wanted linked, and entered the URL It's a little odd—you have to draw the box around the image in the window, so it's a little small but manageable.
Then I did the same for the left nav bar.
You end up with nothing happening to the graphic itself, but a bunch of code in the document with the tag MAP1, MAP2, etc. The code gives the coordinates of the links. That means of course that you don't change anything that would shift the graphic up or down or left or right, once you get this done.
The image map would have been too small to see in this window if I had used the full length one here for the editing. I kind of cheated—I used a short version of the left nav graphic in the beginning, then created a much longer one in Draw and inserted that after the map was done. Since the only thing that changed between the short graphic and the long graphic was the bottom, where there are no links, this didn't affect the image map.
I had to tweak some stuff, of course, in the HTML. No biggie. My graphics seem to end up local sooner or later for no readily apparent reason. I use EvrSoft's 1stPage. I also tweaked a bit in Netscape's Composer since it seems that Web's graphics wrapping features, at least in the GUI, aren't all that great. (Of course, if I bothered to memorize a few more HTML commands, I wouldn't have needed Netscape at all.)
Pasting in the Content
Nothing shocking here. I pasted in the content from my old site, creating a new page with File > Save As.
I adjusted the right margin as I would in normal formatting. (Again, HTML purists, I know it's Wrong but it felt so right.... ;> )
Posted the pages. Did some retweaking.
Heck, I didn't even use the Web Wizard. (File > Wizards > Web Wizard.) That tool of course is more for quick “just get it on the web” work when you have a lot of existing content to slam up on the web.
So....who should be using these tools versus Nvu, DreamWeaver, handcoding, better overall extensible design, etc.--well, I'm not debating any of those issues. Just wanted to show you what was available, and let you know you might be surprised at how much cool stuff you can do without a huge headache.
"Open Source Templates was mainly created to support non-profit organizations.
If you run a non profit org, and are needing to cut down on the costs associated with website development than you have come to the right place. We offer a wide range of free for personal use or non profit use website templates that are easy to modify and add content to.
We will be offering a wide range of tutorials dedicated to helping your organization easily download and create your own great looking site in a matter of hours."
"To put it simply, Open Source Web Design is a collection of web designs submitted by the community that anyone can download free of charge!
The Open Source Web Design project was founded in September, 2000 by Francis J. Skettino. The goal was to provide the Open Source community with quality web designs to help get people's projects on the web in a way that is both organized and good looking. From personal blogs to content managements systems to full fledged businesses, OSWD has been providing free web designs to those who need them for years. With your help, we will continue to do this for years to come. "
Here's an interesting article on what's going to happen with Google, Writely, OpenOffice, Vista, MS Office, and the rest of the gang. The hook is the latest announcement from Google, the Google Calendar.