Oceanography 540--Marine Geological Processes--Winter Quarter 2002

About These Pages

This is the ninth year that this course has been offered, and the seventh that course materials have been offered on the web. For the curious, these notes describe my (RMcD) techniques for preparing material.

I initially started from a set of lectures notes in Lotus Ami Pro format. At the beginning these were saved as ASCII files, and the text portions manually encoded in HTML. About mid-way through this initial conversion, I switched word processors to Microsoft Word and Microsoft had released its Internet Assistant, so the method of conversion of the textual material became Ami Pro to Microsoft Word document format to .htm files produced by the Internet Assistant module. That was the easy part.

Someday, hopefully soon, the HTML specification will include provision for mathematical markup. (The proposed HTML 3.0 standard included this feature, but was not adopted. The adopted HTML 3.2 standard (1/97) and 4.0 standard (12/97) do not. Some progress is being made but is not yet incorporated into common browsers (1/2002).) With only the present features of HTML available I needed to treat equations as graphic objects. All the equations existed in the original Ami Pro lecture notes and so these graphic elements were created by using the "area capture" feature of the Windows program Paint Shop Pro. (The same approach was used initially for complicated tables. Since then support for tables has been added to the HTML specification and these pages have been modified.)

A second limitation of the then-existing HTML implementation is the lack of support for superscripts, subscripts, and a full Greek alphabet. (It would be nice to go back now and make use of the super and subscript support in the present implementation.) I discovered Karen Strom's collection of in-line Greek letters, chemical symbols, and tiny letters and found that they met nearly all of my needs. However encoding quickly became tedious and I needed a way of speeding the process. This led to creation of a meta-markup language which could then be interpreted with a perl script, replace.pl, to generate the necessary anchors. So for instance I would code:


and the converter would replace this with:

<img align=middle src=/scigifs/Kappa.gif alt=Kappa>

This approach proved useful for working with figures (the IMG operator in the meta-markup language) and references (the REF operator).

Figures were generally scanned and saved in TIFF format, then cropped, rotated and further manipulated with xv. Paint Shop Pro was used to generated interlaced gif files. When transparent backgrounds were desired, transgif was used.

Once the content was in place, indexing of pages seemed a useful feature. After some false starts, I adopted the wwwwais/ swish combination developed by Kevin Hughes at EIT which was easy to install and configure. Verifying links is also a critical task. I have made use of Roy Fielding's momspider.


suggested that a more structured way of maintaining the materials was needed. In late December 1995 I created a new directory for the 1996 version of the course, and developed a more structured approach to formatting. Each page now has a "content" or .con file which consists of a single title line:

<title>the title goes here</title>

and body sitting within <body> tags. These content files are run through a perl script, builder.pl, which:

The strict HTML 4.0 specification was approved in December 1997, but these pages will not be brought into conformance until there is better browser support for Cascading Style Sheets.

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