World Builders

Dr. Viau's Prescriptions for

Painless Planet Building

If you follow these guidelines, you will avoid painful problems in your planet building.

Always name your files and graphics with lower case letters.

Why? Our files will go to a UNIX-based computer. In UNIX, a capital A and a lower case a are read as completely different letters from each other. Your files must have exactly the same names in your html code as in the folders. Avoid pain! Name all your files with lower case letters.

Good Examples:


No! No! No! Do not do this!


All members of your group must end text files the same way with either .html or .htm

Why? The IBM system allows only eight letters in the name and three letters in the suffix. If you have IBM users in your group, they will have to abide by these limitations. All the files will have to work together. All of you in each group should use the same format. This will save hours of work.

Good Examples:

These work with IBM and Macintosh files :

  • sam.htm
  • fish.htm
  • ocean.htm
  • maria.gif
  • dad.jpg

No! No! No!

These will not work with IBM systems:

  • ambulance.html
  • volcanoexploding.htm
  • sheep.html
  • mycatjoey.gif
  • sunset.jpeg

When IBM files are emailed to Macintoshes, the computer often changes the suffixes to capital letters. Macintosh users can fix this quickly with a program called Guillotine -- see software toolkit page.

Make your web pages easy to read.

Why? The name of this game is communication! Download and use HTML ColorChooser (see Toolkit page) to check how the colors of your text look on the background that you have chosen. Be kind to your readers!

Always spell check your html pages.

Why? Poor spelling and typos detract from your pages. Download and use SpellTools (see Toolkit page) to check your pages. Have another member of your group read your pages to check for left out words and other problems.

Use Big Brother to check your links.

Why? Your planet will be all together in one folder. Inside the folder will be all your .html files and another folder with your graphics. On your introductory page there will be a link going back out to the World Builder's Home page -- ../index.html. The rest of your files will link to one another inside the folder. Big Brother (see Toolkit page) will check to see if your links work.

Color code your documents for links and images.

Why? Sometimes there are problems with the links to other pages or images. Use Color SimpleText (see Toolkit page) as the word processor for your html files.

Color the code that links files to other files red (like the circulation of the blood).

Example: a href="myintro.htm"

Color the code that calls images onto your pages green (for graphics) (or blue if you like. I find blue easier to see.)

Example: img src="picture.gif"

Put your images together in an image folder..

The name of your image folder should have some reference to your planet name, for example: earthgif, marsgif, jupgif. Keep the name at eight characters or less if your group includes IBM computers. When you call your graphics your code will read:

img src="marsgif/rocks.gif" or

img src="jupgif/rings.gif.

The part before the slash tells which folder the image file ending in .gif is in.

Here is a diagram of a planet folder. This folder is for Mars. Notice that all the text files (which end in .html) are inside the folder which is the red space. Also in the folder is another folder which holds the graphics. The graphic files end in .gif or .jpg.

When a text file needs a graphic it calls it from the image folder. First it names the folder, then the file.

img src="marsgifs/mplanet.gif"

Put the first initial of your planet at the beginning of every text and every image file.

Why? We will be uploading and downloading files to the big server in class. Sometimes files get separated from each other, or uploaded into the wrong folder. Sometimes a student revises a file and gives Dr Viau just one file to upload. Now think about this. Each planet will have at least 15 text files and probably more image files than that -- say fifty files all together (although some planets have over 100 files). Suppose that we have five planets under construction. 5 * 100 = 500. Now imagine what happens when we apply Murphy's Law --

Your cooperation is appreciated!


Decide as a group what you will call your basic files.

Why? Because you will be linking the files together and that can only work if you know the name of the file to link to. Decide today what those files will be called. Here is an example for you. I have listed two possible naming schemes, one for Mars (using IBM file names) and one for Earth (using Macintosh file names). You are not required to follow this example, but you must decide on names for these basic text files. Be smart! Decide today!

You can print out a form for this from the File Name Page. Each person in the group should have a copy of the form.

Chapter Number Chapter is about Names for Mars Names for Earth
Introduction Planet's Home Page mhome.htm ehome
Table of Contents Contents Page mcontent.htm econtent.html
1 Solar System m1.htm esolar.html
2 Geology m2.htm egeology.html
3 Weather m3.htm eweather.html
4 Microbiology m4.htm emicro.html
5 Water Plants m5.htm ewplants.html
6 Water Animals m6.htm ewpets.html
7 Water Ecology m7.htm ewecol.html
8 Land Plants m8.htm elplants.html
9 Land Animals m9.htm elpets.html
10 Land Ecology m10.htm elecol.html
Student Page Linda's Home Page mlinda.htm elinda.html
Student Page Jose's Home Page mjose.htm ejose.html
Student Page Maria's Home Page mmaria.htm emaria.html

Don't be the Lone Ranger.

Why? This really is a group project. The individual pages don't make much sense unless the group has talked about everything. There is much too much work for anyone to do this project alone in the time available.

Some people prefer to work alone. (Don't worry, you will be evaluated on the pages that you have done: however, they should be a harmonious part of the whole planet project.) However, this course is coming out of a School of Education, and, when you do planet building in your own classroom, you will see that this method presents many opportunities for the development of communication and group process skills. Think about this no matter what your preferred work style: would this work with your students? If you prefer to work alone, you will gain insight into what this experience will be like for those of your students who have a work style similar to your own.

The groups that have worked most closely together have turned out the best planets -- and they have had the most fun! Brainstorming produces many ideas, and each person has unique talents. Enjoy this course, and enjoy the people who work with you.

© Elizabeth Anne Viau, 1997. This material may be used freely for instructional purposes but not sold for a price beyond the cost of reproduction. As a courtesy, please inform the author if you use it at Thank you!