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Unit 3.1 Multimedia Basics

Website Management Systems and Webpage Builders

Website management systems, or hosting sites, are systems that allow users to upload and manage their web pages. These systems usually offer their users many web-authoring tool options to create and maintain their web pages. Tools can include webpage builders, shopping systems, audio/visual editors and domain options. Many web hosting sites offer their customers free webpage builders that help them to create web pages or entire websites. The builders incorporate many web authoring tools, including word processing, graphic editing, templates and layout schemes. Webpage builders have two main editing options: HTML or a non-HTML interface. Users who have limited HTML knowledge can use the non-HTML interface to drop and drag items to create layouts and use the text option to type in content.

HTML Editors

HTML editing programs are some of the most powerful web authoring tools, and are mainly used by professionals to create commercial web pages. Most HTML editors are similar to web-page builders in offering users HTML or non-HTML interfaces. The non-HTML interface allows the user to see how the web page will look when it is uploaded to the Internet. HTML editors can be used to create basic HTML markup like a word processor, or can create more advanced language, such as CSS, JavaScript or XML. Most of the work is performed using a built-in text editor. The text editors feature an array of functions besides basic content input, such as linking, spell check, accessibility features and code formatting. Text editors create the HTML markup as the user is working with the editor, which allows for faster editing of visual layout. HTML editors feature HTML validation checkers that will run through a web page and check for markup errors and accessibility validation issues. Most of the other web authoring tools don't offer this option; web authors only become aware of a problem after the web page is on the Internet.

Web Authoring Tools Guidelines

The World Wide Web Consortium, or W3, is a group of leaders in Internet development. The group issues guidelines for web authoring tools that create a basic industry standard for web accessibility. The guidelines encourage web-authoring tool manufacturers to include certain features in their products that will aid Internet users with disabilities. All of the major web-authoring tool manufacturers follow the W3 guidelines. According to the guidelines, web authoring tools must support basic accessibility protocol, create content using standard markup, create accessible materials, contain accessibility editors and incorporate accessibility features within web content. Accessibility features include content that offers adjustable font size, multimedia features such as audio and visual options, and web pages that support readers for the visually impaired.

Authoring Tools Functions Within a single authoring tool, different parts of the authoring interface will fall under one or more of the following types of authoring functionality or functionality that falls outside this classification scheme:

1. Code-level Authoring Functions: Author has full control over all aspects of the resulting Web content that have bearing on the final outcome. This covers, but is not limited to plain text editing, as this category also covers the manipulation of symbolic representations that are sufficiently fine-grained to allow the author the same freedom of control as plain text editing (e.g. graphical tag placeholders). Examples: Text editors, text editors enhanced with graphical tags, etc.

2. WYSIWYG ("What-you-see-is-what-you-get") Authoring Functions: Author has control over entities that closely resemble the final appearance and behaviour of the resulting Web content. Examples: Rendered Web page editors, bitmap graphics editors, etc.

3. Object Oriented Authoring Functions: Author has control over non-WYSIWYG entities that represent a functional abstraction from the low level aspects of the resulting Web content. Examples: timelines, waveforms, vector-based graphic editors, etc.

4. Indirect Authoring Functions: Authors have control of only high-level parameters related to the automated production of the resulting Web content. This may include interfaces that assist the author to create and organize Web content without the author having control over the markup or programming implementation. Examples: Content management systems, site building wizards, site management tools, courseware, weblogging tools, content aggregators and conversion tools, etc

Why Authoring Tools?

Custom content is at the forefront of the eLearning frontier. Trainers are continually trying to identify ways to create and publish increasingly complex custom eLearning content for use on the Internet, company intranets or CD-ROMs. Some trainers seek high-speed deployment of critical information through an organization, known as rapid eLearning, while others want control of courseware and independence from programmers.

Many organizations are attempting to reduce their training costs by developing eLearning materials in-house. Some organizations want an authoring tool that is easy to learn and can be used by a large team of people with different skill sets; others want to move to a blended training solution by offering a combination of classroom and eLearning courses. Authoring tools offer a way for eLearning managers to achieve their goals.

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