This is an out-of-date document, which has been preserved for historical reasons only.

Instructions for providing information via WWW at HUT

Jukka Korpela


These instructions are intended for people who The instructions have been written mainly for creating personal pages. Here the word personal need not imply that the pages discuss you as a person or have a personal design; it simply refers to a WWW page which you have created and for which you are personally responsible.

If you wish to provide official information on a laboratory or some other organizational unit, please contact the responsible person there; if you are that person, please contact Webmaster for arrangements. There are some general guidelines (in Finnish) as regards to content. For the technical part, you can follow the instructions given here, providing the information first as a private person and moving or copying the information to a suitable "official place" later on.

The URL of this document is ./infoprov.html


Basically, information provided via WWW must reside on a computer on which there is software called WWW server. Such software exists for a wide range of computers. However, setting up a WWW server and keeping it running is a nontrivial task which requires technical expertise.

If you want to set up a WWW server you can get some technical assistance from the HUT Computing Centre, especially from Webmaster who will link information on your server to the HUT main server.

However, most users are not interested in setting up a WWW server, since they can make use of existing servers. In practice this means that they will just put their documents onto the disk of the HUT main WWW server,, managed by the Computing Centre. This server runs on a Unix machine to which no direct user logins are allowed, but it effectively shares a relevant part of the file system with general-purpose Unix systems of the Computing Centre, such as Vipunen and the Alphas (named Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta). This means that you can use any of those computers for creating and updating your WWW pages. Some knowledge about Unix is required, but knowing just a few commands and the basic use of the Emacs editor is sufficient.

To put information onto WWW, you can work as follows:

  1. connect (login) to one of the computers mentioned above
  2. give the command
    use www
    which will create a subdirectory named public_html for you and set up directory protections appropriately as well as make it accessible via
  3. put your documents onto that directory; you can even put normal text files there, but to utilize the power of WWW you need to learn some way of producing files in the real WWW format, called HTML.
Your documents become accessible worldwide via WWW as soon as you put them into your public_html directory (with suitable protections). Of course, in order to be able to read them other people need to know their WWW addresses, called URLs, or, alternatively, other WWW documents which they can access must contain links to your documents.

Putting documents onto WWW

To put documents onto WWW, simply put them into your public_html directory. Note that the name of this directory contains an underscore (_), not hyphen (-).

There are some rules according to which the contents of files are interpreted on WWW. For example, a file with a name ending with .html is interpreted as a genuine WWW document (written in the HTML document description language), and a file with a name ending with .gif is interpreted as a picture in the GIF format. If your document is "plain text" to be shown exactly as written, you can use a file name ending e.g. with .txt. For further details on the effect of the file name ending, please consult the local document on Mime media types.

For example, if you have a document called abstract.txt in your home directory, you would give the command

mv abstract.txt public_html
to move it into the public_html directory.

If you want to start writing a new document, you could just change your working directory to public_html, with the command cd public_html, and start writing the document with Emacs (or some other editor). In this case the document will be on WWW from the very beginning and other people may access it while you compose it; if this is not desirable, you can of course first create the document into your home directory and move it when it is ready.

Having put a document onto WWW, you can immediately check the situation by viewing it using some WWW browser program (such as Netscape, Internet Explorer, Lynx, or Opera) and giving a URL of the form

where userid is your user id (the one you type when you log on) and filename is the name of the file you have put into the public_html directory. Notice that you only give the relative file name within that directory.

In fact, the WWW server has been configured so that all of the following forms can be used synonymously:
and you could use the one you prefer when announcing your pages. (But please avoid the last alternative, since it may cause confusion.)

Assuming that the file name is abstract.txt as in the example above and that your user id is jkorpela, you could give the address www ./abstract.txt to your WWW browser to check that document is really there, on WWW. If it is a plain text document, it will be displayed exactly as written, using monospaced ("teletype") font, with the same division into lines as is used in the file itself. This, of course, is very primitive; for instance, headings are not displayed prominently, and the document presentation does not adjust to the width of the browser window.

Producing genuine WWW documents (HTML documents)

"Genuine WWW documents", or HTML documents, are written in a special language called HTML, HyperText Markup Language. This language is relatively simple but looks funny at first sight; this especially applies to things like <A HREF ... which are used for creating links to other documents. Basically an HTML document contains normal text and special markup notations so that the markup may e.g. indicate a part of the text as a heading or list item or just emphasized. Markup is also used for indicating paragraph division, inclusion of images, etc.

There are three essentially different ways to produce HTML documents:

  1. You can use a text processing program such as MS Word, WordPerfect, TeX or FrameMaker to create a document. Then you can use an automatic conversion program to convert a document from the format used by the program into the HTML format. In this approach you need not know anything about HTML, in principle. But in practice the conversion tools may perform very poorly, even producing incorrect HTML. Thus this approach is mainly applicable to dealing with old documents which already exist in, say, MS Word format.
  2. You can use a so-called HTML editor such as Netscape Gold or FrontPage. The worst problem with these is that they usually produce incorrect HTML which may look good on one browser, awful on another.
  3. You can just write an HTML document using a text editor such as Emacs. In this approach you must of course know how to use those HTML constructs which you need. Typically knowing a dozen such constructs is quite sufficient.
When using the first approach and a program like MS Word or WordPerfect, you should first save the original document in the so-called RTF format (often called Interchange format) by selecting the Save As function in the program and setting up the format appropriately. It is advisable to use a file name which ends with .rtf to remind you that it contains information in RTF format. Then you copy the document in that format to of the Unix computers, using e.g. the FTP program. Finally, log on to one of those computers and give the command
use htmltools
and then the command

rtftohtml filename

If the filename is test.rtf, for example, the resulting HTML document created by the program is test.html and you can then simply put it into your public_html directory.

There is not much to be said about the second approach, i.e. using "HTML editors", in addition to warning against typical editors which produce vendor-specific HTML contructs and misuse standard HTML constructs to create the WYSIWYG illusion (What You See Is What You Get). However, there are some HTML editors which effectively allow you to write HTML in a comfortable way and to have a view (one possible view) of the document as seen on a browser. They might be of some use provided that you know HTML.

In the third approach, i.e. if you directly write your document in the HTML language, the following information is probably sufficient to get started:

A simple example (./ex1.html):
<TITLE>A simple HTML example</TITLE>
<H1>A simple HTML example</H1>
<H2>Basic things</H2>
This is a paragraph. The line breaks are insignificant
within HTML documents, since the WWW browsers do the
division into lines.
This is another paragraph.
<H2>Other things</H2>
The less than, greater than, and ampersand characters
may cause unexpected effects.
In HTML, you must type the ampersand character, the
characters lt and the semicolon to produce
expressions like
x &lt; y.
It is a very good idea to put at least your name and
E-mail address into every document.
The date of the creation or last update may also
be very useful later on.
Jukka Korpela,<BR>
Last update: October 15, 1997.
This was just a very short introduction to HTML. You might still wish to write simple HTML documents to get some exercise before studying HTML further.

Next you could read, for instance, the more systematic Introduction to HTML by me or some of other HTML primers. The following list of additional tags is intended to give just an idea of some of the capabilities explained there or in other HTML primers:

If you use the Emacs editor for creating HTML documents, you may wish to learn about the the html-helper-mode of Emacs. This mode is by default on when the file name ends with .html, and it makes writing HTML tags somewhat easier. Please consult the original documentation in English or local documentation in Finnish.

Writing a personal WWW home page

Here the phrase personal WWW home page is used to denote a page which tells about you (as a student, employee, or just private person). This is a very special case of a personal page.

It is not necessary to have a personal WWW home page in order to provide information via WWW, but you can use a home page for various purposes:

To create a personal home page, create a file named index.html and containing an HTML document into your public_html directory. If you use the Emacs editor as people usually do, just give the commands
cd public_html
emacs index.html
Depending on whether you have used the www_home_page program or not, you will either start with the "skeleton home page" or with an empty file.

There are instructions both in English and in Finnish for using Emacs. For very short instructions in English, consult the booklet Welcome to the HUT Computing Centre, chapter 7.1. In Finnish there is a separate guide on using Emacs.

Your home page is accessible via WWW using a URL of the form

but the part index.html may also be omitted.

If you wish to make a link to your personal home appear in the list of all users' home pages at the university, you need to give the command
on one of the Unix computers of the Computing Centre. This needs to be done once only, and it will take effect (i.e. your page will appear on the list) next midnight.

Many people have created their own home pages by modifying somebody else's home page. You can use the list of users' home pages to find a nice home page which you like to use as a model. You can then, for example (after the command cd public_html) give the command
cp ~jkorpela/public_html/index.html .
(notice the space and the period at the end of the command!) to get a private copy of jkorpela's index.html file, and you can then modify it. When modifying another user's home page, remember to correct all information so that it applies to you!

Jukka Korpela

Last update: 2000-02-28