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Thank you to the wonderful editorial staff at O’Reilly Media for guiding this book smoothly through the editorial and production process. This is my first book for O’Reilly, and I certainly hope that it won’t be the last. It was a pleasure working with you all.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the underlying markup language of the World Wide Web. It’s the common thread that ties together virtually every Web site, from largescale corporate sites such as Microsoft’s to single-page classroom projects at the local grade school. Don’t let the phrase “markup language” intimidate you. A markup language annotates or “marks up” plain text, letting a browser know how to format that text so it looks good on a Web page. It’s easy to get started—in fact, you can create a simple Web page in just a few minutes.
While full-featured What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) tools exist that can help speed up the process of writing Web pages, all you really need is an ordinary text-editing program such as Microsoft Notepad. You don’t need special software or extensive training. In this introduction, you’ll learn some basics about HTML. You’ll find out how they turn plain text into attractive formatting, how they incorporate graphics and hyperlinks, and how anyone can create Web content in virtually any program that edits text.
This introduction explains what cascading style sheets (CSS) are, and how they make formatting consistent across large Web sites. You’ll also discover the differences between HTML4, XHTML, and HTML5, so you can make the important decision about which version of HTML you want your code to conform to. Finally, you’ll learn about the conventions used in this book for pointing out special helps like notes, tips, cautions, and references to the data files.
Why Learn HTML in Notepad?
This book teaches beginner-level HTML coding, but it teaches it in a rather fundamentalist way: by creating plain text files in Notepad.
There are so many good Web site creation programs on the market nowadays that you may be wondering why this book takes this approach. Simply put, it’s because doing your own coding is the best way to learn HTML. In this book you’ll build a Web site from the ground up, writing every line of code yourself. It’s slower and not as much fun as a fancy graphical program, but it’s great training. The last chapter of this book shows how to use Microsoft Expression Web to create Web content, and you may eventually choose to move to a program like that. However, you will be a much better Web designer—and understand what is going on in design programs much better—if you tough it out with Notepad in the beginning.
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