Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, November 29, 2001

Eight Tools for the Independent Web Publisher

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In this article:

1. HTML coding
2. HTML Validating
3. Graphic file formats, file conversions
4. FTP - Uploading to your server
5. Link checking
6. Compatibility checking
7. Measuring and verifying search engine ranking and positioning
8. Backing up Finally

The Eight Key Concerns of the Independent Online Publisher (and eight free tools that can help you carry out these critical tasks) are:

1) Coding your HTML by hand gives much better results than using a WYSIWYG program. You can get the layout that you want, and make small adjustments easily.

NotePad comes free with Windows - but a much better text editor is NoteTab Light. This has a sidebar with HTML tags - double - click to enter the tag you want, with a dialog box for those that have options or preferences, such as size, colour, placement, etc.

Download it from

There is also a NoteTab mailing list, where you can ask questions, and exchange tips and tricks - subscribe to the basic list by sending a blank e-mail to

A great and unique tool uncovered by Massimo Curatella is HTML Kit.

It is so easy to reach the Website where this small pearl is located:
even if you will be automatically redirected to

The first paragraph in this Web page, I think, is the best explaination about what the HTML-Kit is:

"HTML-Kit is a full-featured text editor designed to help HTML, XML and script authors to edit, format, lookup help, validate, preview and publish web pages".

The most incredible thing you may discover about it is that it is totally FREE!

At first glance the tool may seem a bit complex with a clumsy interface. But thanks to its configurability, you can arrange windows and toolbars in the way you like. You could even remove any extra gadget to have HTML-kit look like the old dear NotePad.

What if I want to use this toy and create a brand new HTML page? Well, just click on the "new" icon and you will get a nicely formatted, well written, blank HTML page. Of course with all the needed HTML tags in the correct place.

You have to believe to your eyes when you see the tags words written in a different color than the attributes values or the actual text content. The syntax coloring is another precious feature of HTML-Kit. After you discover it you will never be again satisfied by how black and white text looks inside a text editor like NotePad.

Several pages would be needed to describe the hundreds of features available, but let me summarize the most useful.

From the so called "Actions Bar" you have access to every single HTML tag without the need to type it. Moreover, in the "Tools" panel some of the more powerful buttons lie. The "Red Hammer" is the Swiss-knife of the Web page development: click it and your page will be: "Checked, corrected, and converted", just with a single click!

You can convert your document to XML, XHTML, you can change the case of your HTML tags to uppercase or lowercase, you can strip the code from the <font> tags and much more...

I will conclude with some magic, I think the most astounding feature is the richest set of Wizard I have ever seen in a (FREE!) tool like that. For every HTML tag you have a magic wand to help you in inserting the correct values!

Think about inserting an image using the (in)famous <img> tag: do you need to specify the width and the height and you don't want to open your (three minutes to boot) slow loading commercial painting program to discover it? Well, just select the file, the wizard will do the rest for you. Of course you can preview the whole thing in real time before to insert the actual HTML code.

I think this is about 1% of what HTML kit can do. If you are to be involved for whatever reason in dealing with HTML you MUST have it.

Click here to go to the top of this page !

2) HTML Validating To check your pages for errors you can consider using CSE Validator Lite from

A PRO version is also available but I've found the free version enough for my needs. You can correct errors directly in the main window, and each error is explained as you highlight it.

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3) Graphic file formats, file conversions.

Graphics often need a bit of a tweak before you add them to your pages. Cropping, making the background transparent, resizing, or just finding that picture that you **know** you've got somewhere on your hard drive! I have recently reviewed for you Irfan View. This tool can carry out all these tasks, and includes a great browser which loads at the click of a key. It also displays thumbnails for you to choose from.

Download at:

Click here to go to the top of this page !

4) FTP - Uploading to your server.

Uploading to your server (the computer where you web site is stored and accessed from) is done using File Transfer Protocol, or FTP. Two good freeware programs are FTP Explorer from and WS_FTP, available from many freeware sources. Both have graphical interfaces, very similar to using Windows Explorer. You can download a free WS_FTP tutorial in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format by Steve MacLellen at library/library.html

My favourite FTP tool was introduced to me by good friend and new technology researcher and expert Massimo Curatella who has also kindly contributed the following short review of such great tool.

Software name: SmartFTP
Type: Donation-ware
Latest version: 1.0.963
Last update: 1 October 2001

We like SmartFTP for several reasons: it's free (well actually it's donation-ware, we'll tell you more later); it's user friendly, the familiar Windows interface hosts all the commands and features for this tool; it's stable and reliable, well, ok the first version were a bit tricky but the latest one is solid as a rock; it is multitasking. As we all like to do several things in parallel, with SmartFTP you can download, upload and even MOVE files from FTP servers without having them to pass through your modem!

So, it was really easy to adopt it as a standard production tool. All our Website updates, backup and uploading are nowadays happening thanks to this small precious toy. And it is a joy to see the status bar confirming the last big 1 MB upload.

What about FTP accounts, usernames and password? Of course you have a full-fledge bookmarks manager for any sort of FTP server you may want to deal with. But if you want to connect on the fly, just type the URL, your login and password in the 'quick connect' text field in the main toolbar and you get connected without the need of opening several windows.

The best thing of this feature? The history! You got automatically bookmark-ed all the FTP you typed in on the fly without the need to retype everything each time you start your computer in the morning and you feel sooo sleepy.

Ok, let's say you've found the site of your dreams with several hundreds (!?) of file to be downloaded (did I say MP3?). How do you think would it be to download them ONE by ONE. No way! With smart FTP you have a useful queue just for this purpose. Add all the downloads in the queue and leave it alone!

For more serious uses of SmartFTP I can only recommend it for Web publishing purposes. You will have a powerful control console at your fingertips. Upload, download, rename, backup and maintain: everything you need.

If you are a beginner of the scene, don't worry. There is a very good FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) section at:

Remember that SmartFTP is donation-ware: if you like it, don't forget to show your appreciation for the author by donating any amount of money using one of the safest payment method on the Internet.

If you don't believe me: go get it now and try it! I am not working for their marketing or PR office but I deeply believe you may be thankful after you try this tool out. It is that good.

Click here to go to the top of this page !

5) Link checking Another essential check - dead links. The web is a very fluid medium - sites arrive, move, and disappear regularly, and if your site has a link to a web site that has vanished or moved, your visitors get a "404 page not found" error message. Your reputation and credibility can suffer, not to mention your rankings with directories and search engines. I use Xenu's Link Sleuth. The reports are easy to understand, and can be saved to read off-line.

Download Link Sleuth at:

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6) Compatibility checking - To check how well your web pages are compatible with other web browsers and computer systems I strongly suggest to use NetMechanic BrowserPhoto.

Through this commercial service you can access instantaneously screenshots of any of your web site pages as seen on 16 different browser, computer system and monitor combinations.

To see the complete list of browsers supported go to: browser-photo/tour/BrowserList.htm

The service costs USD $ 135 per year for an unlimited number of Web pages on your site. One time use is USD $ 15.

In alternative to having 3 or more types of computer monitors and browser types installed in your office try out this service which provides a very useful support to whoever is seriously concerned with delivering pages viewable on all types of screen and monitors.

BrowserPhoto Tour at: browser-photo/tour/index.htm

Click here to go to the top of this page !

7) Measuring and verifying search engine ranking and positioning.
My favorite service to check my search engine position ranking is RakPilot at The service is a breeze and it performs quite well its function of checking if my web pages are listed on the major search engines, and what ranking they have for the specific keyword/keyphrase I specify.

I also like and suggest Ixquick. Ixquick is a powerful meta-search engine which has the uncanny ability to report and synthesize the overall "ranking" quality of any web site by reporting it through a star-based indicator system. Ixquick queries several of the major search engines and checks the ranking position of your web site on each one of them. Just perform your search with the selected keyword/keyphrase your web site should be found for and see how many stars you get at

Even when you are not yet a top ranker it is very useful to see who are the overall top performers across al major search engines at a glance.

Click here to go to the top of this page !

8) Backing up Finally, a task that is all too often forgotten, but which is absolutely essential, - backing up! If the worst happens, you need to be able to create all or part of your web site quickly - and the only way is to run regular backups.

You can use the Backup program that comes with Windows, or you can consider the Swedish program MyOwnBackup which is much easier to use, and more flexible. With it you can create different sets to back up your web site(s), important data, e-mail, or whatever you want to keep secure. You can create new archives or add new or changed files to a current archive, restore complete sets or individual files, zip archives, and span diskettes. The help includes *9 Steps to a Complete Backup* to guide beginners. 42000/MOB/ (Sweden) or the mirror site (USA).

Alternatively you can utilize a new cost-effective service called VirtualBackup. It backs up automatically all of your critical files without any human intervention. As long as it can open or open an Internet connection this software runs completely unattended. You just specify which files or folders are most important for you, and any time you update or make some changes to these files, they get automatically backed up online.

Your backup is stored on an external server to which you have protected access. You can always log in to recover your files through your username and password. All of the files that are backed up are automatically compressed and encrypted for safety and security reasons.

There are several levels of service depending on the amount of file space you need.

There is a free basic service allowing for a maximum of 5 MB of back up files.

The other service plans include:

VB Starter up to 30 MB of compressed files at $24.95 per year.
VB Basic for up to 50 MB at $39.95/year. VB Plus for up to 120 MB at $79.95/year. VB Max for up to 300 MB at $119.40/year.

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posted by Robin Good on Thursday, November 29 2001, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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