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Create and View World Wide Web Documents on the HP Palmtop

Create and View World Wide Web Documents on the HP Palmtop

PalEdit and HV (free components of D&A Software's new WWW/LX) let you create and view HTML documents from the World Wide Web on your HP Palmtop PC.

By Ed Keefe

In the last 50 years computers have evolved from the ENIAC (a room full of vacuum tubes and patch cords used to calculate artillery trajectories in WWII) to the 486 PC sitting on my desk. The raw power of existing desktop computers is massive compared to the power of the ENIAC. However, even that power will be dwarfed as computers around the world are networked into Internet's World Wide Web.

The World Wide Web

Previous articles in the May/June 96 issue described the Internet and the World Wide Web. Internet is nothing more than millions of computers around the world connected via phone lines, using a common communications protocol. The World Wide Web is comprised of all those computers connected via Internet and exchanging information using hypertext documents. These documents can include text, graphics, animation, and even sounds. They also include hypertext links which let you quickly access information located in other documents on the Web.

For example, you might be using a Web browser program on your desktop PC to read a hypertext document about the HP Palmtop. In the document you see the word publications bolded or in a different color, indicating that the word is a hypertext link. You use your mouse to point to and click on publications. The HP Palmtop Paper Web page appears on your screen, describing the publication.

Documents on the Internet's World Wide Web all use a technology known as Hypertext Markup Language. HTML is a technology in progress. It's only been around for a few years but it's already in its third revision, HTML-3. The technology started as a simple way to send text from one computer platform and have it interpreted on any other platform. It has evolved into a medium that can send not only text but pictures, sounds, and animation. The advance in HTML technology has encouraged the development of a spate of tools to work with the technology. Foremost among these tools are Web editors and Web browsers. Web editors let the developer create HTML documents. Web browsers let others view these documents.

Creating HTML documents with a Web editor

There are a dozen or so Web editors available for a desktop PC, as shareware or commercial software. A good Web editor will cost you about $50 to $150. If you don't have a Web editor, you can use a text editor to create HTML documents. The advantage to using a Web editor is that it contains macros, hot keys, and tool bars that make it easier to embed special HTML tags in the text. These tags specify the size of text, the display font to be used, that a word is a link, and more. You can get a list of the HTML code and enter these tags manually using almost any word processing program. However, you can count on doing a lot of extra typing and making a lot more mistakes.

 Sample HTML document as displayed by the built-in Memo program. Note that you see the text and the HTML tags in the document.

 Whether you use a Web editor or a word processor, you begin an HTML document by typing in your text or importing text from another source. You then use the Web editor's tools to format the document, in much the same way you format a document with a word processor or desktop publishing program.

The above screen shows the HTML document HOWTO.HTM loaded into Memo. You can read the text and even see the Hypertext Markup tags, but to see how the document looks on the Web, you need to view it with a Web browser (also called a Web reader).

There are about half a dozen Web browsers on the market. The most popular is Netscape's Navigator. It sells for around $50. Microsoft is giving away their new Internet Explorer browser in an attempt to knock Navigator out of first place.

PalEdit for the HP Palmtop

There are currently no Web editors for the HP Palmtop. However, there are several good text editors that you can use, including the built-in Memo program, VDE, TSE(Jr), Freyja, and a newer program called PalEdit.

PalEdit was developed by Andreas Garzotto, who has previously given HP Palmtop users his HV (Hypertext Viewer) program. Andreas is the author of WWW/LX, reviewed on page 12. HV and PalEdit are components of WWW/LX.

Andreas used the Palmtop Application Library (PAL) to give PalEdit the look and feel of the Palmtop's built-in applications. Everything about this editor is just right, including the price: it's free.

At the top of the next page are two screen shots of PalEdit. The first one shows the opening screen. If you start PalEdit (PE) without specifying a file name, it will display a pick-list from which you can load any one of 10 files that you may have been working on previously. The second screen shows PalEdit with the PalEdit README file (PE.DOC) loaded.

 PalEdit opening screen displaying a "pick-list" that lets you select the document you want to load.

 PalEdit with document loaded.
 
 

PalEdit has many features that will let you work on text documents, HTML documents and computer programming code. Here are a few of PalEdit's features:

  • Files are not limited in size
  • Several files may be open at the same time
  • Two clipboards available for cutting and pasting
  • Fast search and replace feature
  • Keyboard macros
  • EMACS keyboard compatibility
  • Memo keyboard compatibility
  • Connects to program compilers
  • Handles many DOS filters
  • Send and receive mail with WWW/LX (see review, page 12).

  •  

     

PalEdit has a very useful search function. Like the built-in Memo program, you press (F4) to access it. But unlike Memo, all you do is start typing the word you're looking for. PalEdit does an incremental search, hopping to the most likely word as you type. You usually find the word by the time you've typed in the first three or four letters.

As with the Palmtop's built-in programs, you press (F1) to access PalEdit's Help screen. It is not context-sensitive like the Palmtop's Help feature. However, the help file is an ASCII text file that can be modified. I like this because it lets me add the code references for the HTML tags to the file and have them available at the press of the F1 (Help) key. In addition, I use PalEdit's keyboard macro feature to automate the insertion of HTML tags into a document. I have macros for the tags I use most often. When I want to insert the tag, I just press the macro key. The rest is automatic, just like a Web editor.

HV lets Palmtop users view hypertext documents

The other side of the HTML coin is a Web reader. Palmtop users have had their own Web reader, HV, for almost a year. Recently HV has been upgraded to make it conform more closely with the current HTML standards. It still works well on the HP Palmtop and makes it easy to use your pocket PC as an Internet off-line reader. (Note that a commercial on-line version which uses HV is now available. See the review of WWW/LX, page 12 of this issue, for more information.)

You can use a desktop Web browser or WWW/LX on your Palmtop to capture text and pictures from any number of Web sites. Once the files are on the Palmtop you can take them with you and use HV to read at spare moments.

 The opening screen the HTML viewer HV, showing the first page of an HTML document titled Project Management on The HP Palmtop.

 Since most of the documents on the World Wide Web contain graphics designed for machines with 640 X 480 VGA color monitors, the HP Palmtop will always have trouble displaying these high resolution graphics. HV lets you turn off the graphics display and speed up the reception and display of text. Alternatively you can use an external graphics interpreter such as PICEM to display those graphics that HV can't handle.

Create your own HTML development environment with PalEdit and Hypertext Viewer

You can install PE as the editor of choice in the HV configuration file. Then, you can run HV and view an HTML document. When you want to switch from viewing to editing, just press (F3) (Edit) key and PalEdit will automatically load the source document and let you make additions or corrections. When you've finished editing just quit PalEdit and you'll return to HV where you can immediately view the results. It's all very slick.

Producing pictures on the Palmtop and desktop

One of the trickier tasks in creating an HTML document is getting graphics that look good. The task becomes even trickier when you're dealing with two different platforms: a high-speed desktop with SVGA monitor and a low-speed Palmtop with CGA grey-scale display. To do the job, you need a number of tools on both the desktop and the HP Palmtop.

I use a graphics capture program called GEMCAP to create 640 X 200 pixel graphic images that display properly on the Palmtop's screen. GEMCAP captures a Palmtop screen and stores it in Ventura Publisher's .IMG graphics format. I use another shareware program called Graphics Workshop (DOS version GR43.ZIP) to convert .IMG files to .GIF and .EXE files. The older versions of this program work on the Palmtop and let you create self-displaying files as well as reverse image GIF files. The reverse image files are needed if you plan to view the pictures on a desktop computer.

Finally, you'll need a good graphics program on your desktop PC to modify or fix .GIF files. I use Paint Shop Pro to tweak .GIF files that have been created on the Palmtop. I have occasional problems with .GIF files. The external graphics display program PICEM displays .GIF files properly on the Palmtop. However, the same program sometimes causes my desktop PC to crash when displaying the .GIF. If you load the bad .GIF file into Paint Shop Pro and then save it back to disk, the problem goes away.

Time will tell

Creating HTML documents is not something to be undertaken lightly. The current state-of-the-art demands a lot of software and hardware. I've tried to give you some idea of what works and what doesn't.

Producing an HTML document is also very time-consuming and demands a good feel for using text and pictures to communicate an idea. Also, I'm not so sure that HTML and the World Wide Web are the great communication medium they are made out to be in the press. They may develop into something unique and powerful or they may go the way of the CB radio. Time will tell.

Shareware/freeware mentioned in this article

iPhone Life magazine


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