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HTML Complete Course

From the Author, Donna L. Baker

HTML Complete Course is part of the Wiley/Seybold Complete Course series, and one of three Complete Course books I have written. The series is designed to lead you through a program (or in this case through the code) and out the other side with a completed project and an understanding of how to use the technology.
      One feature I really like is that you don't have to start at the beginning of the book and work through each session. On the CD I have included iteration files for each session that can be used instead. The book isn't designed as a classroom textbook, but I have had feedback from people using my Complete Course books in classes from Uruguay to Kuala Lampur.
      Once you have completed the book, you can take an online test through Seybold to earn a certificate of completion. This book was a lot of fun to build, and based on a few philosophies I have about Web design:

You should understand what you are building. Back in the day I remember being over the moon when I heard about Dreamweaver, and have been using it since its inception. However, as my skill developed I found that I became fascinated with what was in the “Code” view and how it made the “Design” view work.
      Although I continue to work in Dreamweaver almost exclusively for some of the tools it offers (like the amazing FTP and synchronization capabilities) I write the code by hand, and also build the stylesheets by hand. Coming from a visual person, that is a significant step! Handwritten code is much cleaner, using fewer tags like span and div for the simple reason that it is a hassle to type tags that you don't need.

You should plan ahead. Again, if you are working manually, unless you plan ahead and plan well, you are doomed to making repeated changes as you create. Since sites often have many similar pages, and it is easy to forget which are changed, the process can be downright crazy-making.

You should do one thing right. Following from the plan idea. If I have five pages that are all similar in design but use differing content, I make sure to have the first one down cold and then simply resave it using the names of the other pages and replace content.

Understand what compliant code means. My HTML Complete Course book adheres to a variety of global standards including X-HTML 1.0 compliance and CSS-2 compliance standards of the W3C. These standards aren't built for entertainment - they are a cornerstone of your own building efforts. It makes sense in a lot of ways. For now you can write code in a variety of HTML formats as well as X-HTML and it all displays.
      That is for now. Future browsers won't be so tolerant, and since the standards are so well-developed now, learn what it required. I found it surprisingly easy to get into the swing of things.
      Rebuilding my own Web site was a case in point. It had been built in HTML 4 and since it was due for an overhaul (and since I had written a book on it!) it was logical for me to make the site X-HTML compliant. Build pages keeping the standards in mind, and then test them and test them again until you have clean code.

Get into the stylesheet habit. I love stylesheets. You write a style once, and then use it again and again. Not only does it save time in the long run, it also adds to the visual consistency of your site. And also make sure the CSS is compliant as well.

You should not be afraid of writing JavaScript. There are huge numbers of sites that offer JavaScript tutorials, demos, and free code of all kinds. Sometimes all you need to spice things up is a tiny piece of script. Hunt it down.

Aim for accessibility compliance. There is no reason a simple site can't comply with Section 508 accessibility standards. If you have a commercial site, it makes common sense - why limit your potential customers to those who DON'T use any assistive devices. You can also aim for WAI compliance (a subset of the W3C that lists levels of prioritized compliance with accessible code).

Putting it all together

In my HTML Complete Course book I applied my philosophy as much as possible, as long as I also adhered to the concepts and design requirements of the book. The book has 15 sessions and there is an extra bonus session on the CD. Each session should take about 90 minutes to complete. Notepad (you can't get any more basic than that!) is used to build the site, although any text editor would work of course.
      Initially the plan was to use the Windows Paint program as a graphics program, thereby making anyone having a basic Windows computer able to do the sessions. In spite of my best efforts, the output from Paint was, shall we say, substandard. Quite awful actually, but I pushed the program as far as it could go. It pushed back. I ended up using a free program from Serif Software called PhotoPlus 5.5, which is included on the book's CD. It is quite a good program, allows you work with layers and transparency, and was adequate for the book. You can easily do the rest of the book and use the completed images from the CD instead of working with the CD's software.
      At the end of the book you have a substantial standards-compliant Web site using a variety of content. The site uses a frameset, an imagemap as part of the navigation, has a form and a slideshow, and other items such as a PDF form. I also include a fair amount of JavaScript in the book. The scripts range from the very simple like adding a message in the browser window's status bar, to the more complex like adding a script to insert an automatic date on the page or control navigation using buttons. See the curricula outline

best choiceHTML Complete Course is the winner of an Award of Excellence from the Canada West Coast STC (Society for Technical Communication) chapter for 2003. Here, I've provided a complete curricula outline so you can see what it's all about.

HTML Complete Course, by Donna L. Baker -- Wiley Publishing, 2003
      audience: All computer users of any platform
      audience: level: Beginner: just getting started
      audience: Lesson based - take each lesson individually

See similar titles in the Web department Keywords: Web: Web design, Web development, html, shtml, gifs, jpgs, web graphics, layout, pages

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