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Working on the Web

Working on the web is always going to be slightly different from working on your own computer, but as the IT world moves more applications and resources to your web browser; there are some things that you should be aware of.

Some of these things relate to how the web works and why things don't always happen in the way that you expect them to.

Web Apps

Web-based Software (Web App) allows you to complete tasks that would normally be done by software installed on your computer.

On the whole - Web Apps do not care what device you use, what operating system is installed or where you live - they just work.

Visit the relevant website and use the software, directly within the web page, before downloading your completed object or project back to your own computer / device.

We have listed and categorised a range of useful Web Apps for you to try. All of these Apps are either free or have free options and some services will allow you to create an account so that you can retrieve your work at a later time (or even share it with others).

  • Email Links (mailto:)

    Mailto (the theory)

    When you see an email address, on the internet, in an Office document or in Blackboard, and it is a live link (like a web link) - this will usually be aMailto link.

    It allows users who click that link to send an e-mail without first having to copy the destination e-mail address and open an e-mail client. But there is a problem:

    Mailto (the problem)

    Mailto clickable links do not always function correctly for the end user. The software mechanism activated by the link requires that a default email client be installed and setup on the computer. An example of this might be Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express.

    Because most people now use Webmail (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, etc.) there is little or no need to install and/or configure an email client on your computer; because you simply open a web-browser and login to your email.

    When such a visitor clicks on a mailto link, either the web browser will display an error to the effect that no default email client exists, or the user will be subjected to a volley of technical questions by the unconfigured email client. Neither is a desirable outcome.

    In short - clicking an email link (like this one: skills@cumbria.ac.uk) will not allow you to easily email the person unless you have a dedicated email program or have already applied a fix.


    Mailto (some fixes)

    Gmail users: The following article shows you how to set Gmail as your default desktop email client; when using the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer web browsers:

    Hotmail / Outlook.com users: The easiest way to do this is through a third-party piece of software called an "email client". Outlook 2016 is available to University of Cumbria students through the Office 365 download program. When you are no longer a student, you may want to purchase Outlook or use on of the suggested alternatives:

    Mailto Links and Mobile Devices: There is no longer an issue for most users of Smartphones. Your Android phone, iPhone, Windows Phone and Blackberry are already registered with one or more of your own email addresses.

    The Email App, on your device, will automatically open for Mailto Links and allow you to send an email from your preferred account.

  • Documents on the Web

    Office documents were never designed to be posted to or read on the web. Although some document types are now more accessible than they have ever been; there remain some pitfalls when clicking on a link that turns out to be a document rather than a web page.

    The advice, given below, relates to Office Documents as they appear in emails, on Blackboard and on the web.


    PDF's (Portable Document Format) on the Web

    PDF documents are now very widely supported by the modern web browsers and will usually open in your browser window; so long as the Adobe PDF Reader is already installed on your computer (it usually is). Otherwise; they will offer to download onto your computer.

    Adobe PDF Reader is a FREE download and is available for most platforms/devices.

    Note: The Google Chrome web browser has a native PDF Reader already built-in; without the need for any other downloads or plugins.

    Quick tip: When viewing a PDF file, in your browser, hovering your mouse cursor near the bottom of the screen (Internet Explorer is bottom-left / Chrome is bottom-right) will show you a simplified PDF menu (like the one below) that will allow you to:

    • Save
    • Print
    • Navigate the pages
    • Zoom in
    • Zoom out
    PDF Toolbar Browser,

    Microsoft Office files on the Web (Word, Excel & PowerPoint)

    Word, Excel and PowerPoint files react differently to PDFs and normal web pages. Exactly how they react does depend on your web browser and what settings you have created for viewing documents.

    If you are using Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge browsers there is a possibility that, when you click on a link to an Office document (particularly Word and Excel files), the document will open directly in the browser window. If you edit this document and then browse away or close the window, all of you edits will be permanently lost. See "Download Office Documents from the Web" below.

    If you are using any other web browser (e.g. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Apple Safari, etc.) you will not encounter this problem, as the browser will either directly download the file or open it in a default web service, such as Google Docs, if you have previously set one up.

    Download Office Documents from the Web

    The easiest way to make sure that you capture a document, from the web, is to simply download it.

    If a link identifies itself as being a document - right-click on the link and select:

    • Internet Explorer - "Save target as…"
    • Chrome - "Save link as…"
    • Firefox - "Save link as…"
    • Opera - Click on the link to see download/viewing options

    The file will now download to the location that you select. The default is usually into your Downloads folder, but saving it, temporarily, to the Desktop will allow you to find it more easily.

  • Web Apps - Audio Editors

    Audio Expert http://www.audioexpert.com/

    Cut, trim, crop and merge audio files. Analyse and convert audio files. Record directly from your computer and/or microphone.

    Online Audio Cutter http://mp3cut.net/ (Easy to use)

    Quickly and easily chop up a sound file to remove sections or to create a short audio file from a longer piece. Very popular for creating ringtones from full audio tracks.

    Soundation Studio http://soundation.com/studio

    A complete sound studio for creating and editing your own audio files and/or songs. Paid-for options can get quite pricy, but the free option is good enough for most users.

    Online Convert Audio http://audio.online-convert.com/

    Quick and simple audio file converter. Change an Apple AAC into a standard MP3 in a few clicks. Note: The website is quite cluttered and you need to click on the “Read more…” text to convert that type of file.

  • Web Apps - Creative Data Display

    Create Infographics

    Easel.ly http://www.easel.ly/

    We live in a world that needs easily digested facts, and nothing says "eat this factoid" better than a good infographic. Easel.ly exists with the one goal of sharing visual ideas online, meaning it's all about creating infographics. Pre-created themes make it easy for anyone to make a page of info, as long as you've got the facts.

    Create a Word Cloud

    Wordle http://www.wordle.net/

    Wordle is a toy for generating "word clouds" from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and colour schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like.

     

  • Web Apps - Image Editors

    Photoshop Express Editor http://www.photoshop.com/tools/

    Visit the tools section of Photoshop.com and you'll find the Express Editor, Adobe's online app. It includes the Express Editor for doing the quick edits or filters (the kind of thing the full version of Photoshop is known for), plus a style match tool for photos, an image organizer, slideshow creator, and a drag-anddrop upload tool. Considering it's made by Adobe, it's no surprise that it works fast.

    FotoFlexer http://fotoflexer.com/

    If you've got photos on Flickr, Facebook, Google Photos, Photobucket, and other services, open them on FotoFlexer to apply some basic editing, or move up to special effects and animations.

    Pixlr http://pixlr.com/editor/

    For a free image editor that lives within your browser (no software download needed), Pixlr is the best free clone of Adobe Photoshop out there. A little more complex thatn some others, but a very comprehensive tool.

    Slidely http://slide.ly/

    Let Slidely look at the images you have stored on Facebook, Google Photos, Flickr, and other sites and start building beautiful slideshows you can share with others. A slideshow can have up to 90 images, plus background music, which you can pick from sites like SoundCloud or YouTube, or use your own MP3s (keep it legal and do not share copyright content with a wider audience).

  • Web Apps - Office Tools

    Online Office Suites

    There are a number of Office Suites that work completely online. They allow you to view, edit and create documents in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats; plus a number of Open Document formats and PDFs.

    Microsoft Office365 https://www.outlook.com/uni.cumbria.ac.uk (via your student email account)

    Google Drive Docs https://www.google.co.uk/docs/about/

    iWork for iCloud https://www.apple.com/iwork/ 

    Zoho Office http://www.zoho.com/

    Presentations

    Prezi http://www.prezi.com/

    A web tool that allows you to make presentations? Perhaps that doesn’t sound too ground-breaking, but this one can be quite useful for a few reasons. First, if you don’t need to make presentations often then you can actually take the time to develop an interactive and in-depth presentation. Trust us, Prezi has all the bells and whistles you need. Second, you can use Prezi for more than presentations. For example, art classes could create the background of the presentation by adding in a work of art. Then, you can add ‘hot spots’ to the art and take students on a virtual tour of the art. How fun is that?

    Note Taking

    Microsoft OneNote Online https://www.outlook.com/uni.cumbria.ac.uk (via your student email account)

    Microsoft OneNote is a computer program for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. It gathers users' notes (handwritten or typed), drawings, screen clippings and audio commentaries. Notes can be shared with other OneNote users over the Internet.

    Evernote http://www.evernote.com/

    Use it for: note taking/word processing, voice recording, photos (snapshots of teachers’s notes group work, etc), share work between teachers and students, organize and search all of your notes. Great for students and teachers, sharing, and personal use. Offers free and premium options for use.

     

  • Web Apps - Polls & Surveys

    Quick and easy ways to create short polls or surveys. Very useful for collecting both qualatitive and quantitive data from a targetted audience.

    Online Polls & Surveys

    There are a wide range of web services that allow you to create online Polls & Surveys, including Google Drive, but the two offered here are very simple to use and offer both FREE and paid options.

    Surveys for Staff Use

    The University has an account with Online Surveys (previously Bristol Online Surveys) and all staff can apply for access to this service.

    Please contact AQD for access - a username and password will be issued to you.

  • Web Apps - Video Editors

    YouTube Video Editor http://www.youtube.com/editor/

    You will most probably knock on YouTube’s door when it comes to hosting your video clips. So, why not make use of YouTube’s very own Video Editor.

    Video Tool Box http://www.videotoolbox.com/

    The free online video editing application comes with an advanced file manager that helps you to upload and download video files from other sites on the Web.

    WeVideo https://www.wevideo.com/

    WeVideo is a collaborative online video editing tool. It comes in a mix of free and premium plans. For instance, the free account allows you to collaborate with a maximum of 5 people.

    Magisto http://www.magisto.com/

    Magisto automatically turns your everyday videos into beautifully edited movies, perfect for sharing. It’s free, quick, and easy as pie! We love the Magisto Android App and this web-based version does all the same things.

  • Web Apps - Project Management

    Asana https://asana.com/

    Asana is a hybrid task and project manager. Adding multiple projects is simple, and you can keep track of them from the left sidebar. You can structure your individual project goals and milestones as a simple checklist from start to finish, order them by date or when they need to be done, or make them dependencies so one thing can't be complete until its sub-tasks are finished.

    Freedcamp https://freedcamp.com/

    Freedcamp offers an extremely easy, yet fully customisable user permission system. Email notifications when someone else, in the team, completes a task. Project templates to save you from having to start from scratch.

    Podio https://podio.com/site

    Simple to set up and fully customisable – Podio is a great free option for collaborating on a project. Plug in your OneDrive, Google Drive or Evernote accounts to gain access to more tools and files.

    Scrumy http://scrumy.com/

    Organising a group of people to work on a project can be complex, difficult, time-consuming - or you can just use Scrumy. There's no registration involved, just enter a project name and you're off. 

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