Pistachio Backtalk Help:
Backtalk HTML Tags


Read this first: Introduction to Pistachio Backtalk

Backtalk HTML Tags:

If you enter Backtalk items or responses in "HTML" or "Lazy HTML" mode, you will be able to use a limited subset of the standard HTML formatting tags in your text.

This page gives a very brief description of some of the HTML tags most commonly used in Backtalk items and responses. It isn't really a very good HTML manual. There are many more complete HTML tutorials available on the web, and lots of books are available.

Spacing

The first important thing to understand about HTML is that it always gets reformatted. It doesn't matter what kinds of spaces and tabs and blank lines you type in - the browser treats all white space alike and reformats the lines to nice even lengths. Thus, the two inputs below, both give exactly the same output:
you type:people see:
The safest general characterization of
the European philosophical tradition
is that it consists of a series of
footnotes to Plato.
The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.
The safest
    general characterization       of the
European philosophical

tradition

               is       that
it consists of a series
    of footnotes to Plato.
The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.
So, if you don't want your writings all formatted into one long paragraph, you need to insert some HTML tags to tell the browser where to insert line breaks and paragraph breaks.

The <BR> tag inserts a line break.

The <P> tag inserts a paragraph break.

For example:
you type:people see:
The codish lays a thousand eggs,
the homely hen lays one.

The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she's done.

And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,

Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertize.
The codish lays a thousand eggs, the homely hen lays one. The codfish never cackles To tell you what she's done. And so we scorn the codfish, While the humble hen we prize, Which only goes to show you That it pays to advertize.
The codish lays a thousand eggs,<BR>the
homely hen lays one.<P>The codfish never
cackles<BR>To tell you what she's done.
<P>And so we scorn the codfish,<BR>While
the humble hen we prize,<P>Which only
goes to show you<BR>That it pays to
advertize.
The codish lays a thousand eggs,
the homely hen lays one.

The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she's done.

And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,

Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertize.

Backtalk's "Lazy HTML" setting helps a little with this by automatically converting any blank lines you enter into <P> tags.

Funky Characters

All HTML tags are enclosed by < and > characters, like the <BR> tag in the examples above. So those characters (and a few others) have special meanings in HTML text. Because of this, if you actually want them to appear in the output you have to replace them with the following strange codes:
you type:people see:
&lt;<
&gt;>
&amp;&
There are hundreds of similar codes, starting with ampersands and ending with semicolons, which can produce all sorts of interesting characters, but these three are the most commonly used ones.

Here's a couple examples. In the first one, we forgot to replace the funky characters with funkier codes, so it thought <OUCH> was a tag, and didn't show it. The second example fixes this. (The ampersand in this example seems to work OK either way in most browsers).
you type:people see:
"<OUCH>," said the man from AT&T,
dropping his silver hammer.
"," said the man from AT&T, dropping his silver hammer.
"&lt;OUCH&gt;," said the man from AT&amp;T,
dropping his silver hammer.
"<OUCH>," said the man from AT&T, dropping his silver hammer.

Fonts and Styles

OK, we've got the annoying things out of the way, lets do some fun stuff.

If you want to set a word or two in bold face, you can insert a <STRONG> tag where you want it to start, and a </STRONG> where you want it to end. Lots of tags have beginnings and endings like this, and the ending tag is always just the beginning tag with a slash in it.

Here are some examples of tags used to change the font and style of your type:
you type:people see:
This is <STRONG>bold face</STRONG> text This is bold face text
This is <EM>emphasised</EM> text This is emphasised text
This text is <EM><STRONG>bold and
emphasized</STRONG></EM>
This text is bold and emphasized
This text is in a <TT>typewriter</TT> font This text is in a typewriter font
This text is <U>underlined</U>. This text is underlined.
This text is <STRIKE>stuck out</STRIKE>. This text is struck out.
This text is <BIG>big</BIG> This text is big
This text is <SMALL>small</SMALL> This text is small
This text is <FONT SIZE=+1>one size bigger</FONT> This text is one size bigger
This text is <FONT SIZE=+2>two sizes bigger</FONT> This text is two sizes bigger
This text is <FONT SIZE=-1>one size smaller</FONT> This text is one size smaller
This text is <FONT SIZE=-2>two sizes smaller</FONT> This text is two sizes smaller
E = m c<SUP>2</SUP> E = m c2
x = x<SUB>1</SUB> + x<SUB>2</SUB> x = x1 + x2
This text is <FONT COLOR=RED>red</FONT>,
<FONT COLOR=WHITE>white</FONT>, and
<FONT COLOR=BLUE>blue</FONT>!
This text is red, white, and blue!
This is <STRONG><FONT SIZE=+2 COLOR=GREEN>big bold green</FONT></STRONG> text. This is big bold green text.
One caution: Changing the font color is a little dangerous in Backtalk, because you don't know what background color it is being displayed against. White text on a white background is invisible. A response that looks great to you might look bad to other people, since different interfaces use different background colors for different usersy

Lists and Quotations

HTML has several sets of tags that can be used to build up nice list structures. Here are some examples:
you type:people see:
In <EM>Roving Commission: My Early
Life</EM> Sir Winston Churchill said,
<BLOCKQUOTE>
It is a good thing for an uneducated man
to read books of quotations.  Bartlett's
<EM>Familiar Quotations</EM>
is an admirable work and I studied it
intently.
</BLOCKQUOTE>
This is, of course, quoted in
Bartlett's <EM>Familiar Quotations</EM>.
In Roving Commission: My Early Life Sir Winston Churchill said,
It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations is an admirable work and I studied it intently.
This is, of course, quoted in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.
There are three things every
person should do:
<OL>
<LI> Travel with a penguin (or at least
a medium-sized giraffe).
<LI> Make love in a tree
(or at least on a wind-swept roof top).
<LI> Eat ice cream in the artic (or at
least curry in Calcutta).
</OL>
Everything else is optional.
There are three things every person should do:
  1. Travel with a penguin (or at least a medium-sized giraffe).
  2. Make love in a tree (or at least on a wind-swept roof top).
  3. Eat ice cream in the artic (or at least curry in Calcutta).
Everything else is optional.
Things to pack for your trip to
New Zealand:
<UL>
<LI> silly hats
<LI> kazoos
     <UL>
     <LI> red ones
     <LI> blue ones
     </UL>
<LI> bicycle pumps
</UL>
Things to pack for your trip to New Zealand:
  • silly hats
  • kazoos
    • red ones
    • blue ones
  • bicycle pumps
Here is a list of definitions:
<DL>
<DT> kazoo
<DD> a wind-blown noise-maker
<DT> kalamazoo
<DD> a town in Michigan with two more
     syllables than a wind-blown noise maker.
</DL>
Here is a list of definitions:
kazoo
a wind-blown noise-maker
kalamazoo
a town in Michigan with two more syllables than a wind-blown noise maker.

Pictures

You can include images in your text with the IMG tag. The images have to be stored someplace on the Web, and must have URLs.

Note that some conferences may have images disabled, so this tag won't work in items or responses entered there.
you type:people see:
<IMG SRC="http://www.unixpapa.com/bt_demo-1.4.6/image/backtalk.jpg">
<BR>
The Backtalk image, shown above, is from a book
of traditional regional coustumes of Germany.

The Backtalk image, shown above, is from a book of traditional regional coustumes of Germany.

Links

You can put clickable links into your text too:
you type:people see:
The
<A HREF="http://www.unixpapa.com/backtalk/">
Backtalk home page</A>
always has the latest Backtalk news on it.
The Backtalk home page always has the latest Backtalk news on it.

Backtalk supports a small extension to standard HTML. It allows it's special internal links to be used inside links. So if you enter <A HREF="conf:mars">, then Backtalk will convert the URL into a link to the "mars" conference home page.

Other Tags

The following other HTML tags may also be used in Backtalk responses. I haven't documented them here, because I'm tired of typing, but any decent HTML reference book or web page will tell you more about them.
<TABLE>
<TH>
<TR>
<TD>
<CAPTION>
<THEAD>
<TBODY>
<TFOOT>
<COLGROUP>
<COL>
Used to generate tables (like this one). This is pretty useful, but more complex that I want to describe in this little page.
<ABBR>
<ACRONYM>
Used to format abbreviations, like HTML.
<CITE> Used to format citations.
<Q> Used to format quoted text.
<DEL>
<INS>
Used to format deleted and inserted text.
<DFN> Used to format definitions.
<CODE>
<LISTING>
Used to format program fragments.
<VAR> Used to format variable_names.
<KBD> Used to format keyboard input.
<H1>
<H2>
<H3>
<H4>
<H5>
<H6>
Various levels of section headings, like those marking the sections of this document.
<DIR>
<MENU>
Directory and Menu listings, but most browsers treat them exactly like <UL>.
<PRE>
<SAMP>
Preserve line breaks, and display in fixed-width font.
<XMP> Similar to <PRE>, but tags aren't expanded inside.
<SPACER> Make space. Netscape only.
<DIV> Logical block creation.
<NOBR>
<WBR>
<NOBR> make a section of text that doesn't get wrapped, except where you put a <WBR> tag.
<BDO> Used to make text go right to left instead of left to right. This is needed in some foreign languages, but, so far as I know, doesn't work in any major browser.
<AREA>
<MAP>
Used to define image maps.
<MULTICOL> Multi-column output. Older versions of Netscape only.
<BANNER>
<MARQUEE>
Banners and scrolling marquees. Internet Explorer only.
<CENTER> Center a block of text.

Prohibited Tags

Lots of perfectly good HTML tags aren't allowed in Backtalk responses. Mostly they are tags that would mess up the rest of the page. Some are just too rarely supported by browsers. The <HR> tag is banned because we use horizontal rules to separate responses, so we don't want people using them inside responses.

If you try to use any of these in a Backtalk response, they just get stripped out.

Basically, all tags except those listed above are disallowed. Some of the ones that aren't allowed are listed below:

<!-- -->
<!DOCTYPE>
<APPLET>
<AUDIOSCOPE>
<BASE>
<BASEFONT>
<BGSOUND>
<BLACKFACE>
<BLINK>
<BODY>
<BQ>
<BUTTON>
<COMMENT>
<EMBED>
<FIELDSET>
<FN>
<FORM>
<FRAME>
<FRAMESET>
<HEAD>
<HR>
<HTML>
<IFRAME>
<ILAYER>
<INPUT>
<ISINDEX>
<KEYGEN>
<LABEL>
<LAYER>
<LEGEND>
<LINK>
<META>
<NOEMBED>
<NOFRAMES>
<NOSCRIPT>
<OBJECT>
<OPTGROUP>
<OPTION>
<PARAM>
<PLAINTEXT>
<SELECT>
<SCRIPT>
<SPAN>
<STYLE>
<TEXTAREA>
<TITLE>
Futhermore, certain attributes are also automatically stripped out of Backtalk response. Event handler attributes like ONCLICK, ONMOUSEOVER, ONLOAD, and such are all banned. The HREF attribute is deleted if it's value starts with "javascript:". This is all to prevent user's responses from running JavaScript code in other user's browsers.

- Backtalk version 1.4.6 - Copyright 1996-2005, Jan Wolter and Steve Weiss