Assignment 1: Read Preface and Chapter-1
For next class, read from Build Your Own Website the Right Way Using HTML & CSS, 3rd edition:
- chapter 1
Bring any and all questions to class for discussion. I will review both these chapters highlighting things I feel are important, things I don’t agree with, and clarifying things.
Review of Preface
Avoiding Bad Habits in HTML
From the Preface, I want to highlight the note about bad habits. He’s talking about the structure of an HTML page; the order of the elements, misuse of tags, and unnecessary tags. HTML should be very limited and clean. Don’t just pay attention to your design, pay attention to the code. Bad code can be inflexible, slow to download, and difficult to maintain.
One of the biggest bad habits the author is referring to is the use of HTML tables for layout. Don’t do this. Ever. Tables are for charts. Early web designers didn’t care or didn’t know better and used them to layout the whole page. The exception might be, MIGHT BE, developing email blasts or graphical emails. Ask me about this if you are interested. Every HTML tag has a purpose, so make sure you are using tags for their intended purpose.
The author says you won’t learn any bad habits in this book. Not so fast. There are one or two things that I don’t agree with and I will point them out when the time comes.
HTML is like building a house
The inside scoop on browsers
Hopefully you know what a browser is. But I want you to be aware of cross browser compatibility. Not all browsers function the same way. Internet Explorer was the worst, and even Microsoft admitted this: www.ie6countdown.com. IE 7 wasn’t a whole lot better, but Microsoft announced recently that they are going to release a “silent” update and get everyone to IE 8. That will improve things, but the moral of the story is to test your website in different browsers AND ON different operating systems like Mac OS and Windows.
Two more things
Nobody does a perfect website on the first try. Most people never make a perfect website.
Review of Chapter 1
You don’t need Dreamweaver to build a website
So you don’t need much to build a site. Just a code editor, a browser, FTP client and a lot of patience. There is a myth I want to dispel about the necessity of Dreamweaver to build web sites. Totally not true. HTML and CSS are completely nonproprietary. So you just need something that you can type in like Notepad or some other text editor. You do need an editor that will not apply formatting to whatever you type, so stay away from Microsoft Word and understand the difference between a text editor vs. a word processor.
Dreamweaver is like an HTML calculator. It will help you write your code and it color-codes it for easy reading. It can also help you with scripts if you are a true beginner, but I would encourage you to grow out of any reliance on Dreamweaver. I use Dreamweaver, but if I need to, I could crack open a text editor and get to work. I can also decipher all the code in the web sites I build because I don’t use any special features or add-ons in Dreamweaver – I stick with the basics. That is what I recommend you be working towards.
Making your site “live”
I usually demo FTP (file transfer protocol) to make you websites live. I usually don’t require it, but I may change this by giving you a temporary spot on my server to practice uploading web files. It’s really not that difficult, it’s just that every hosting company is slightly different. Chapter 9 also discusses this so the information is at your disposal.
Building websites in Microsoft Windows
First disagreement with this book: if you are using windows, don’t develop with Internet Explorer. That is totally lame. Use Firefox or Safari. And if you really like Chrome, use Chrome. I think that Safari on the Mac is superior for a number of reasons with Firefox coming in a close second.
If you are using Windows, the book mentions using NoteTab as a text editor. I can’t really recommend any since I don’t use Windows. But I am sure there are a bunch out there, so find something that works for you. In the classroom, we have Macs and we will be using Text Wrangler. It’s nice for beginners because you have to type everything out (or copy and paste) and it will color your code for you which should help for debugging.
Where to save your website files
The book talks about where to save your files. For HTML and CSS you just need a folder – any folder anywhere on your computer.
Useful things in TextWrangler
- Preferences -> Editor Defaults -> Change Font
- View -> Text Display -> Show line numbers
- Preferences -> Text colors
- Preferences -> Languages (make HTML default)
- View -> Text Display > Soft Wrap Text