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Practical Internet Groupware by Jon Udell

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HTML Authoring Strategies

When a news server supports a user population guaranteed to be running HTML-aware newsreaders, everyone’s a potential HTML author. This doesn’t mean you’re going to bring in hip, ponytailed web consultants to design your internal discussion pages. It does mean that you can use rich text, tables, images, lists, and color—where appropriate—to communicate more effectively. It means that you can use descriptive labels rather than raw URLs to refer to web pages or news messages. In the special case where the focus of discussion is an evolving web site, you can try out sets of alternative page designs using the newsgroup as a scratchpad web server that also happens to support conferencing. More generally, any product made of words and pictures—a book, a report, a newsletter—can benefit by exposing its raw materials to the production team in a conferencing environment.

The Collabra and Outlook Express message composers both come with integrated HTML authoring tools. In Netscape-only environments, you can also produce a standalone HTML file using another tool, such as FrontPage, HotMetal, or HomeSite, and upload that file as an attachment to a news message. However, the Microsoft newsreader won’t display these HTML attachments inline, as the Netscape newsreader will. In any case, the problem with this approach may be that this class of authoring tool is overkill. You don’t want to invite users to waste too much time on formatting and layout. Unless the ...

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