Web Techniques Magazine May 1998
Volume 3, Issue 5



What's It All About

I am a new Web Techniques subscriber, and I have some questions about what you will be covering in the future.

I am a technical writer who will be responsible for developing printed documentation, HTML, and online help (WinHelp). I am not a Web developer, per se. I am a content developer, but I need to develop my content with an eye for presenting it in HTML or other future formats such as XML.

I am looking for discussions of XML and MCF that will help me organize and structure my documentation. I am looking for discussions of new HTML Help tools such as Netscape’s NetHelp, Microsoft’s HTMLHelp, or other HTML help systems.

I am also looking for discussions of presenting documentation such as Word, Excel, or PDF documents on an intranet, and helpful conversion tools for presenting such documents. I am looking for discussions of add-ins (for Word or FrameMaker, for example), browser plug-ins (such as file viewers), and other third-party solutions for converting and presenting materials in Web format.

I don’t mind reading a magazine that deals with the nitty-gritty of Web development, but I also need coverage of conceptual issues and the topics I’ve described above.

Please let me know what coverage I can expect in future issues, and if Web Techniques will meet my needs.

Patrick O'Callaghan


Thank you for your thoughtful suggestions, Patrick.

Many of the topics you’ve suggested have indeed been covered in previous issues. In fact, the editors were hard at work on the March 1998 “Beyond HTML” issue as you were writing to us. In addition to dynamic HTML, the document object model, and similar topics, the March issue covers XML tools and includes Michael Leventhal’s “XML: Can the Desperate Perl Hacker Do It?” You’ll also find in-depth coverage of dynamic HTML and Cascading Style Sheets in our December 1997 issue, “Creating Dynamic Sites with DHTML.” And for help with Netscape’s NetHelp, see Nancy Hickman’s “Adding Help on the Web with JavaScript and Netscape’s NetHelp” (June 1997). And finally, keep a watchful eye out for “HTML Coder,” which appears roughly every other month.


Last Tango

I just read Rick Dobson’s article about Tango (“Lab Notes,” Web Techniques, March 1998). I have a question. What does this product buy me that I couldn’t do with IIS, ASP, and Visual InterDev? Thanks in advance for your response.

Dennis Kunc


I’m glad the article got you thinking about how Tango compares with another of your (and my) favorite Web-development options. From my point of view, Tango offers two primary benefits relative to IIS/ASP/Visual InterDev. You, and other readers, need to decide whether these benefits are relevant to your needs, experience, and preferences.

First, there’s its graphical user interface. (You can actually write code for Tango, but I didn’t demo this in the article.) Some developers find working with ASP more tedious than they prefer. For these folks, Tango’s graphical user interface offers a substantial benefit. While Visual InterDev has a graphical interface and some code-writing wizards for a limited set of situations, Tango offers rich support for those who prefer a noncode-intensive solution.

Second, Tango works on a wide range of Web servers. As you pointed out, ASP and Visual InterDev go together with IIS—a proprietary Microsoft server. ASP solutions require native Windows-NT–based servers for enterprise scalability. Tango works on just about every Web server. If you need portability across multiple Web servers, or if your page will be hosted on servers other than Windows NT, then Tango offers a substantial advantage over ASP/Visual InterDev.

There is a third-party product that extends ASP so that it works with non-MS Web servers. Visit www.chilisoft.net/ to learn more about this option. For those willing to put up with the inherent disadvantages of third-party products, this represents a good cross-platform-server alternative? I hope this reply addresses your concerns.

Rick Dobson


Code Typo

I was following the example in the “A Contact Database using MySQL and PHP” article by Mike Miller (“Lab Notes,” Web Techniques, January 1998).

In Listing One below, he ends his MySQL command with a “;”. On my version of MySQL, that kept giving me an error. I had to remove it in order to create my table. Thanks for a great article and a great magazine.


Listing ONE


CREATE TABLE contact (
          first_name CHAR(20),
          middle_initial CHAR(1),
          last_name CHAR(30),
          address_1 VARCHAR(100),
          address_2 VARCHAR(100),
          country VARCHAR(30),
          state CHAR(2),
          home_phone VARCHAR(30),
          work_phone VARCHAR(30),
          work_fax VARCHAR(30),
          cell_phone VARCHAR(30),
          email_normal VARCHAR(70),
          email_urgent VARCHAR(70),
          birthday CHAR(11),
          URL VARCHAR(80),
          PRIMARY KEY(uid),

The semicolon after the “)” needs to be deleted.

Kinney Baughman

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