Loc: Indiana, USA
Learning to Use All The Goodies
No doubt many of you have seen posts on the TTOL (Bulletin Board) that have all these cool colors or fonts. How about those "smily" faces and other icons? If you want to learn how to use them in your posts, stay with us. We're going to cover all that and more. This whole thread can be used for practicing what you learn. Just go to the "Testing" board and create a message of your own and see how your posts look.
The BB uses something called "markup language". It is a special way of writing instructions that the BB program understands. For example, to make something appear in bold font, you insert "[b ]" in front of what you want to be bold and "[/b ]" after it. (Note: notice that there is a space inside the brackets. This prevents the command from actually executing. In a real command, there would be no space.) The same thing holds true for italics (using "[i ]" and "[/i ]") or blue ("[blue ]" and "[/blue ]") or a whole myriad of choices. These various pieces of markup language are called tags. Some tags are a single insert and some come in pairs (called "start" and "stop" tags). The single tags are used to insert something in your post or to position text (centered, adding a tab, inserting a line, adding a 'smilie' face). The "start" and "stop" pairs are used to alter the appearance of text (bold, italic, new font, email link, web page link).
For example, if I want to say "Hello, how are you?", and have it come out as "Hello, how are you?", I could manually type in tags as required. Although this will work, it is, as you can imagine, very slow. TTOL gives you a break by allowing you to click on the tag you want. That tag is then automatically inserted into your text. When you click on a tag icon, it is inserted at the end of your message. If you want to insert it earlier in your message, "cut" and "paste" it where you want it to be or plan ahead.
There are, basically, three types of tags. The first type is composed of all the "emoticons" found in the first 3 rows. These tags will appear like this : [laugh ] (Remember, there's no space in the real tag).
The second group of tags changes your text in some way. These are found on row 5. Some we've already discussed, such as "B" (bold) and "I" (italic). Notice that you can change your font, center align your text, raise and lower the size of your font, and insert a quote into your post.
The next type of tags comprise the last line of the display. The will change the color of your text or insert a horizontal line in your post.
Now, let's talk about the "specialized" tags.
First, in row 6 at the extreme right, you will see a magnifying glass. This will set the tags [search ] and [/search ] around text. Here's how you could use the "search" tag. Suppose you're replying to someone who wants to know an answer to a question. You could reply this way:
If I were you, I would search on giraffes to find the answer.
If the user clicks on "giraffes", he will execute a search on the BB for that word. Go ahead and try it. I don't think you'll have any success!
In Row 4, there are 8 icons that may not be familiar to you. They are in 3 groups: the 2 envelopes, the 2 picture frames and the 4 globes. I'm going to be a little rebellious here and recommend that you only use some of these, but not all 8. The 3 that I'll recommend will perform 99% of what you need; at your leisure, you can experiment with the other 5.
The envelopes allow you to insert a clickable email address. Only use the first one (the one with a 1 in the icon). To insert an email address, press the tag icon and insert the email address in the text between the start and stop tags. It ends up looking like this: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The picture frame icons allow you to insert a graphic image from somewhere on the internet. Not many of you will use this simply because you don't have the address of a graphic. If you do and want to use this option, use the first picture frame, the one without the blue outline.
The globes allow you to link your post to another page somewhere on the internet. For example, to link to the MSN home page, it would look like this: http://www.msn.com. Again, use only the first globe, the one with a "1" on the icon and without the ftp on the icon.
Notice that when you insert a tag (or start and stop tags), it is placed at the end of whatever you have already typed in your post. This requires either some planning ahead or the ability to cut, copy and paste.
Have you ever played with your "signature" for the BB? You can access it by clicking on Control Panel at the top of this page. Then, in the Main Configuration section, click on Edit for Personal information, email, password, etc.. The Signature box can contain tags just like a post. The only problem is that there are no icons to click on; you have to know what the tags look like. It's pretty easy, though. Just create a reply to this message, testing your signature until you're happy with it. As I'm sure you all know, you can continue to re-edit your post. Once you are satisfied, copy and paste it into the Signature box on the Basic Profile page. By the way, tags also work in PM's.
Play with these tags. They're fun and will make your posts more easily read and enjoyed by your readers. Feel free to contact me via Private Message or by email at email@example.com.