Creating web content using plain text on an old Mac Plus

Ever had that feeling that you can't sleep, so you think... what the hell I'll just brush up my skillset a little? I saw my little old Mac Plus just sitting there, so cute, and thought, you too are going to contribute to the Internet.

The concept was simple. Use the Mac Plus I bought second hand for 40 to generate content for my personal website, and postpone the necessity for a new machine for longer still. The night is young, all is calm and still.

As soon as I realise what I am up to I realise I need to know a little more, so I cheat a little and use the IIsi to log on to Compuserve and see what tools are available. Its Mac HTML Library 1 has a number of HTML authoring utilities, so I download a couple of hundred kb of shareware: a hypercard stack that handles HTML tags, RTFtoHTML 3.0 whose name may say it all but it didn't work for me, and throughout I continue to use Word 4.0 and the old Mac Plus to keep the momentum going, turning back to the Plus when the IIsi's tied up with a lengthy download. BBEdit4.0 is available at this location, but it's 3.5 megs, so I skip it, and decide to use a simple text editor and type tags by hand.

So the next thing that I need is a guide to HTML with all the tags defined. I decide to look for the Barebones guide, which I've had before, but it's not there but there are a few old magazine articles that I hope may help.

I end by downloading my mail, and use the time to go for a piss. (I can't believe I put up with having my machine all hung up while I waited to get my mail for all those years, though the nicely implemented "Disconnect after Retrieve All" in MacCIM2.x at least means you can go off and do something secure in the knowledge that your phone bill's being kept to a minumum). Anyway, it's downloaded in the time it's taken me to write this paragraph, so now I tidy up all my goodies and see what I've got. Hope it hasn't filled up my hard disk too much! (40MB is all I got)

Well, some of it is by Dan Connolly, "one of the originators of HTML," and very elegantly written it is too. I spend some time formatting, and it doesn't look so bad once it's printed out. Pagemaker's Table of Contents tool is quite cool once you've headed everything up. (That's a big once.) And it may be that an export to Word 3/4 then 98 would preserve all those heads for a big glorious save as... to HTML. But there's no doubt this approach is all a bit labour intensive. Applescript would help a bit, but there's no avoiding going over it all for meaning. (See I just learned some new HTML. Cool. Even if I am 5 years off the pace.)

Well the upshot of all this is 6 text files on paper in a ring binder unused since undergraduate days. The seventh, this file, is mailed to UCL. Web and email functionality on both machines will be possible, I read in my blue folder while drinking coffee with my girlfriend in bed in the morning; I'll let you know how I got on.

All of the body and most of the head made it through pretty much unscathed by email to my work machine, where it was the work of a few minutes to perform a few minor tests and edits, then serve the file to the Web.

Web links to cited documents not yet implemented

DC 18/2/99