LEARNING HTML - The Tools You'll Need

By Deborah Burton


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If money is a problem, you can probably find anything and everything you need to find on the Web about writing HTML rather than buy the books I have listed below. I have told you where to find a *free* HTML Editor, and I have offered free alternatives wherever possible. If you read through all these pages and look at all the links I give you, you should be able to do web pages spending little or no money. If you have the money, you will probably find it easier to buy the books and some really good software.

If, after reading all this, you decide that learning HTML is not for you, you can contact my friend Pat Kalbaugh of Sirius Web Craft, and she will be happy to design a site for you. I have known Pat quite a while, and she specializes in canine web sites. She also has the most reasonable hourly rate that I know of, she believes in doing simple sites which are very effective, and her work is excellent.

BOOKS - There are two books I purchased to help me create our Web Pages that I highly recommend. They are "Teach Yourself Web Publishing With HTML In 14 Days" by Laura Lemay and "HTML For Dummies" by Ed Tittel and Steve James. Both of these books were invaluable. If one book couldn't answer my question, I found it in the other, so both are a good idea. These books are both slightly unusual in the computer world, because they are written in everyday language. Both books are extremely easy to understand, and I congratulate the authors of both books for doing such a good job!

You can purchase these books right on-line, if you wish, from:

HTML EDITOR - This is software that allows you to write HTML and saves your files with the file extension ".html". I use Hot Dog from Sausage Software, but there are a lot of HTML editors out there. Hot Dog Express runs around $50, but I use Hot Dog Pro, because I write a lot of web pages. Hot Dog also allows you to upload and download your HTML and graphics files to your server, but I have always used Cute FTP for this purpose.

VALIDATION - When you have finished your web page(s), I cannot emphasize the importance of validating your pages enough. All you do is upload your page(s), go to the site of the Validator you have selected, enter your page's URL, and the Validator gives you a "report" on that page. Validating your pages will show you where your mistakes are. I would recommend validating each page as you finish it so that you do not repeat the same mistakes on ensuing pages.

There are a few Validators on the web (all free), but my favorite is A Kinder Gentler Validator, run by Gerald Oskoboiny. With all the Validators available, it can be difficult to ferret out what you did wrong, but you will have far fewer problems with this sort of thing on Gerald's site. His Validator is a lot easier to understand. I am proud to display A Kinder Gentler Validator's famous "check mark" at the bottom of each of my web pages!

Every web page should begin with a statement for the Validator that says what version of HTML you use. It is the very first line on your page. You can't clear a page through validation without the statement below. I clear my pages at HTML 2.0.

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//Netscape Comm. Corp.//DTD HTML//EN">

If you're clearing in HTML 4.0, this is the Validator you should use - W3C HTML Validation Service, also run by Gerald Oskoboiny.

Good clean valid HTML should be everyone's objective that enters the world of the Web. I was in a site last year that was written so badly (the HTML code was incredibly incorrect throughout the page) that it caused my computer to crash. The guy used a WYSIWYG web editor (the "brand" shall remain nameless), and the code he created in this editor was *awful*. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.

Some HTML Tips

1. There is no great mystery about learning HTML. It is not programming and, therefore, is not as difficult to learn. It is called HTML "code" and that's what it is. Most HTML is nested commands. You tell the server to "do this here" and then you tell it to "end it here". One of the biggest mistakes a beginner (and a pro) can make is leaving off the end command. This can cause some strange things to happen on your page!

2. Another great tip is LEARN HOW TO DO TABLES. Tables are useful for more things than you can imagine. I use them with borders/dividers so that the actual table shows up on the screen, and I use them with no borders/dividers showing on the screen. I rarely do a page that is not made more attractive by the use of one or more tables. Tables are extremely versatile and worth taking the time to learn.

3. Your best source of learning how to do HTML is the Web itself. Every time you see a web page with something you like and want to know how to do, you can click on "View" in the Netscape toolbar towards the top of the page after the page has completely loaded. Then click on "Document Source" and a separate page will appear with all of the HTML code for that page. You can copy down how something is done and use it later for your own pages. Right below "Document Source" is "Document Info", and this gives you information on the images on the page.

Excellent Web Pages For Learning HTML

Dave Kristula has done a really extensive site for learning HTML. A lot of info is covered here. If you take the time to go through and do this entire tutorial, you will learn a lot of HTML.

Wired Digital has done a fabulous site for beginners, and this is a good one to keep bookmarked. They have the various commands listed and you click to get to a page with a good explanation of how to do it. This would be an excellent site to keep bookmarked to refresh yourself about an HTML command(s).

Cute FTP
This is the program I use to upload my files to the my ISP. This program is shareware (use for free for 30 days) and costs $34.95 to purchase.

This excellent site is filled with *tons* of downloadable shareware to help build your own web pages. Shareware, a unique "Net" concept, gives you an opportunity to try a program for either 30 days or a certain number of times for free before you buy it.




Deborah Burton
130 Castle Rock Road
Unit #107
Sedona, AZ 86351
Email: fuzzy@fuzzyfaces.com

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