NuMI-MINOS Web Editors Guide

Introduction

If you wish to post new pages, or edit existing pages, on the NuMI-MINOS web site, then this Guide was written to help you - both new web authors and experienced web coders. There is a lot of material in this Guide, but it doesn't have to be read in any order and you don't have to read all of it before you start working on your pages. The Chapters within this Guide are listed in the navigation menu at left and summarized below. If you have questions about why our site is arranged the way it is, or why pages look the way they do, or why the HTML/XHTML code looks the way it does, the answers and reasons are likely found in one of the Chapters.

The MINOS Site was re-arranged following he conclusion of the NuMI Project, and this effort continues, slowly. If you have not edited pages under you jurisdiction for some time, you might want to click around the site or scan through this Guide to remind yourself how the site is arranged. The page layout design has changed twice since 2004, and will likely change again in future; the web pages however have been written so that changing the page appearance requires no effort on your part (except for comments). This is because the pages do not use old-style HTML, they use XHTML. And they follow Web Standards coding practices. Even if you have made many web pages over the years, if you don't know what the previous sentence implies, then you probably need to read through parts of this Guide, in particular about Web Standards and to understand the few but important differences between HTML and XHTML.

New Page Layout

THIS page represents the current version of the MINOS site page layout, made by Cat. One (of several) good things about adopting Web Standards coding practices is - that it is easy to change the appearance of a page, without having to change anything in the page itself. So if we all hate these pages in 6 months, it will not be nearly as hard to change the appearance of our site as it has been in the past. Not to jump ahead, but classify, in your mind, the text in the HTML file as semi-permament content, with NO stylistic directives (no <font>, no <br> no &nbsp;). If you want to change the way the page looks, you don't edit the page. All the visual appearance is handled by a Style Sheet. So, what you edit to change page appearance is the Style Sheet. Think of the Style Sheet as a "skin" applied to the HTML page. As a quick example - go to your Browsers "Print Preview" and see what this page looks like for printing. It's COMPLETELY different, yes? But it is exactly the SAME page - same HTML file. Didn't have to make a "printer friendly" version of the page. All the visual effects depend only upon which Style Sheet (screen or print) is being invoked.

Guide Chapter Summary

Each Chapter in this Guide can be read on it's own - you can pick and choose where to start. Here is a short description of each Chapter to help you choose the right place for the information you seek.

Starting Up

If you want to edit pages and don't have access, or forgot the path to the site, or forgot how best to copy files to and fro, this section is for you - it is also the only internal Chapter.

Site Organization

As of late 2004, the NuMI-MINOS web site began a reorganization, to adapt the site for Experiment Operations, rather than Project Design/Construction. We take this as an opportunity to go through the material which has accumulated on our site, keep what is still useful and archive old material. The change-over entails moving stuff from "old" directories to "new" directories. Read this Site Layout Chapter for details - there are also diagrams (PDF files), showing the proposed graphical layout of the site.

Page Design and Page Templates

The site re-organization led to a re-thinking of the navigation which contributed to the criteria for the page redesign. A page re-design led in turn to update the coding, to use XHTML 1.x, rather than HTML-4, and to be Web Standards Compliant. Whew! But there is a method to the madness, and good reasons behind all those changes. Refer to the Page Design Chapter for details on the "whys" behind the way the new pages (like this one) appear and function. New page design means new Templates, which you can use as a starting point to create new pages. Please see the Page Templates Chapter for instructions on obtaining and using a Template.

Web Standards and XHTML

The W3C makes the rules, and since 2002 or so, Browser Makers have actually been following the rules! That means we can all use HTML the way it was always SUPPOSED to be used. Don't be a dinosaur. Adapt your HTML coding practices to follow Web Standards, a movement which has been rippling across the Web for the past few years, and is The Future (well, by 2008, Web Standards are accepted and well spread - Web 2.0 methods are what's new, but Web 2.0 incorporates Standards). Please read the Web Standards Chapter for a brief history of Web Standards and reasons why it's the best way to design web pages - there are also links to interesting sites and discussions on the subject.

We ask that Page Masters use XHTML for all new pages they create from now on. Using our Templates makes this easy. XHTML syntax is easy too, as it is nearly identical to the HTML that you have used in the past. But please read the XHTML Syntax Chapter to understand the few differences between XHTML and HTML that do exist.

XHTML requires some "boilerplate" code, particularly in the <head> section, which might be unfamiliar. You don't have to change any of this code, but if you want to know what it's for, please see Page Code Defined.

Editing Pages

PLEASE DO NOT obtain a Template or other existing page by saving it through your Browser! PLEASE DO NOT edit a page through your Browser. I know it seems convenient, but doing that will screw up the INCLUDED portions of each page. There is a right way and a wrong way to create a new Page, and the Editing Pages Chapter will walk you through the right way, and tell you why it's right.

The Editing Tools Chapter gives some pointers on editing and error checking pages. Most of you use a simple text editor, and that's fine; you might want to be aware of what other (free) tools exist. Some editors are more Web Standards compliant than others.

Greek and Math Characters gives instructions on the current correct methods to insert special characters into your text. All characters that we typically use are available - you don't need little GIF images of greek characters, and you don't need to use <font> to create Symbol font characters. See this Chapter for a Better Way.


Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Magnet Logo