Programmer's Notebook

Beginning at the Beginning - File Systems and Plain Text Files

Getting up and running with HTML, Javascript, and a host of other technologies requires an understanding of file systems and text editing tools. For the benefit of those who need a refresher, and in the interest of completeness, I've pulled together a few resources for getting started on Windows and Mac systems.

File Systems

Every general purpose computer has some type of file system to store, organize, and ultimately retrieve the files we create. Contemporary systems such as Windows and Mac OS use a graphic user interface (GUI) in which the file system is represented as a nested series of folders and files.

Windows Explorer - an Introduction to the Windows folder and directory system
http://www.learnthat.com/courses/computer/directory/index.shtml
Have you ever wondered where a file comes from? You load a program and try to open a file you saved earlier, but you don't understand all the folders on the screen. This online course will help explain Windows Explorer and the folder system your computer uses to keep track of files.

A Beginner's Guide to the Mac - Finder Basics
http://www.macoptions.com/os85/
These pages are intended to help those who are new to the Mac Operating System (OS) get acquainted with their new environment. Many of the tips will also be valuable to more experienced users.

Mac OS: About Folders, Directories, and Pathnames
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=106419-en
Sometimes it is helpful to describe a file or folder by its pathname. This article discusses the relationship between folders, pathnames, and directories.

Plain Text

Creating HTML and Javascript (as well many other types of code) requires writing and saving files in what is called a "plain text" format. These files are usually created using text editors which are distinguished from word processors by the fact that they save no additional formatting such as boldface, italics, margin settings etc. There are specialized text editors with additional features helpful to programmers, however most operating systems come with a built in editor.

Microsoft Notepad - Online Tutorial
http://www.durham.edu.on.ca/oxfordtutor/manuals/notepad/
Walks you through all the menu options on the Windows Notepad.

Mac 101: TextEdit
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=304779
When you need to create text documents, TextEdit is a highly versatile word processor, including tools to format and layout your page, edit and stylize text, check spelling, create tables and lists, import graphics, work with HTML, and even add music and movie files.

Mac OS X: How to Set Up TextEdit as an HTML or Plain Text Editor
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=106212
TextEdit renders HTML by default. You may change its preferences to act as a plain text editor, for use in editing HTML or configuration files, for example.

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