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Hour 24. Photoshop for the Web

Hour 24. Photoshop for the Web

Wow! You're almost finished; this is the last hour. You've learned enough to work effectively with Photoshop, even if you haven't yet mastered all the tricks and timesaving features. The rest will come as you do more work with the program. This final hour is devoted to one of the newest and best uses for Photoshop—putting your work on the World Wide Web.

You've “surfed” the Web with your favorite browser, Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. You probably have email and maybe even your own home page. But, do you know what's really going on out there in cyberspace? First of all, although the Web is what you might call a virtual space, meaning that it creates the illusion of space and distance, it also exists in a physical space. It is comprised of computers called servers that serve files across networks that stretch around the world. The computers can be anything from supercharged SPARC stations to minis and mainframes—or a machine not unlike the one sitting on your desktop. These machines run software that can talk with your machine via what are known as protocols.

Thus, when you type a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) into your browser to access a Web site, a message, made up of electronic pieces of information called packets, goes out to these remote machines. These machines then send back the files for which you have asked. The files that make up all the sounds, pictures, and text of the Web then have to travel across phone lines or down a cable TV line.

This creates a problem that you have to keep in mind as you create graphics for your Web site. Phone lines are slow, and there is only so much information that can travel at a time. If you are lucky enough to have a cable modem or an ISDN, DSL, or T1 connection, you are doing okay speed-wise. A 28.8Kbps (kilobits per second) modem is moderately fast. A 56Kbps modem is fairly fast. A 14.4 modem is pretty slow. We used to be satisfied with 2400bps modems, but those were the pre-Web days, when we only used our modems for email and perhaps accessing chats on CompuServe or America Online.

The most popular language used to publish documents on the Web is HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). HTML isn't really a computer programming language, so relax. It is, as its name suggests, a markup language. A series of relatively simple tags enables you to specify how text appears in the browser, images, and links to other sites. HTML isn't difficult to learn, but you really don't need to. (If you decide to get into it, look for Sams Teach Yourself HTML4 in 24 Hours. It's an excellent reference.)

There are programs, including desktop publishing programs, Web browsers, and word processors you might already own, that can translate your pages into HTML with just a couple of mouse clicks. All you need to do is lay out the page the way you'd like it to look with your Photoshop pictures pasted in. You do have to make sure they're in a compatible format, though. Because Web pages can be viewed on all kinds of computers, the graphics have to be in a format that's common to as many as possible.



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