HTML Macros -- Easing the Construction and Maintenance of Web Texts.
UKC, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK
Authoring and maintaining large collections of Web texts is a cumbersome, error-prone and time-consuming business. Ongoing development of courseware for the High Performance Computing Consortium (HPCC) TLTP has only helped to emphasise these problems. Courseware requires the application of a coherent document layout (templates) for each page, and also the use of standard icons with a consistent functionality, in order to create a constant look and feel throughout the material. This provides the user with an environment where he or she can access new pages, and instantly recognise the format used, making the extraction of the information on the page much quicker, and less immediately confusing. This paper describes a system that was developed at UKC to provide a solution to the above problems via the introduction of HTML macros. These macros can be used to provide a standard document layout with a consistent look and feel, as well as tools to ease user navigation. The software is written in Perl, and achieves macro expansion and replacement using the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) and filtering the HTML source. Using macros in your HTML results in your document source code being shorter, more robust, and more powerful. Webs of documents can be built extremely fast and maintenance is made much simpler. Keywords: Authoring, Automation Tools, Perl filters for HTML, Teaching and learning on the Web
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