This website was written in notepad using xhtml 1.0 transitional code, CSS and tableless layout. When I started I had absolutely no knowledge of html or web design and would probably describe myself as a bit of a technophobe, so if I can do it anyone can.
I have been intending to write a website to publish my book for rather a long time. I made several attempts at starting but never got it finished. The main reason this is here at all is because I agreed that I would try to write a website for You Can Do It!, the book on computer programming I was involved in until recently. Having written this I decided that I might as well finish mine too.
I have used various layouts on this site and I'm not sure that all of them work very well on older browsers. I would be very grateful for any feedback on problems you might find and even more grateful for suggestions on how I could make it better. There is a feedback form at the bottom of the page.
My very first attempts were made using Netscape Composer, a WYSIWYG editor, but I found it a bit restricting. I also tried using Microsoft Word but the code seemed horribly complicated. So because I prefer to understand what I'm doing I decided to learn HTML and write it in a basic text editor. I just about managed to write some basic pages in HTML using tables to layout the pages when I discovered there were such things as standards, xhmtl and css style sheets. When I realised how much better this was I decided to start again from scratch and use xhtml.
I found everything I needed to learn available on the Internet and in particular I can recommend the W3C tutorials and Ross Shannon's brilliant tutorial site HTMLSource
XHTML is the latest version of HTML. It forms a bridge between HTML and something called XML which will eventually be all over the place. Many people who already know HTML don't like XHTML because it is stricter. For example, HTML can be written in upper or lower case or a mixture but XHTML must be written in lower case. There are a few other rules which must be followed. Many people cannot see any advantage in changing over. But as a beginner I think it is easier to learn the slightly stricter code sooner rather than later. There are all sorts of other reasons why it is better.
One of the most useful aspects of using XHTML for a beginner is that XHTML requires a Doctype or DTD (see DOCTYPE explained for clear information on Doctypes) and because you write to a specified standard it is possible to get all your documents validated and this is a brilliant way to help you learn.
The World Wide Web Consortium,W3C, are the people who set the standards and specifications that are used on the Internet. The free W3C validation service will check any web page, site, or even files on your computer to see if they are 'valid' to the standard specified in a DTD and tell you exactly where any mistakes are. On my first attempt I had loads of mistakes mainly for not including 'alt' image, forgetting to close tags and using upper case for code. I found it very useful for picking up errors and making me more careful as I continue. It doesn't tell you whether the website looks good - but simply tells you it is written correctly.
Another advantage is that pages that are valid will display faster because the browser doesn't have to work as hard trying to interpret the code.
Finally, if your documents are valid you can display a W3C valid banner with a reassuring tick on your pages. This has a wonderful feel good factor for a beginner - its a bit like passing an exam or something.
When I first put up this site the About Ciao and Dooyoo page wouldn't validate because of the Ciao banner. I'm very grateful to Chris K. Young who kindly contacted me with the solution. He explained that the ampersand in the URL was causing the problem. He told me to add amp; after the ampersand. I did and it validated. He said "It's not really rocket science" (maybe not but I didn't know how to solve it) so I wanted to say thanks.
Chris also fowarded this W3 information on the ampersand problem.
The Ciao and Dooyoo pages are probably the most problematical all round. The pages break if the window size is reduced. I'm sorry about these - when I learn more I'll fix them.
Style sheets also known as Cascading Style Sheets or CSS are quite simply the best thing since sliced bread. When I first came across them I thought they sounded far too complicated to bother with. I couldn't have been more wrong. They actually make writing web pages much easier and they are far more efficient.
Basically all you have to do is create a text document with a .css extension and this becomes the 'master' style sheet for all the pages you create. Even the most basic style sheet could make your life so much easier. For example, without a style sheet you have to tell your document to change what would be the default for text fonts and colours, background colours, and how links are displayed on every single page. The normal default text is Times and links are blue, magenta and red with underlines. Using a style sheet you can decide, as I have, to have Arial as the default and have no links underlined and this would take effect on all your pages.
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