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INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION

In this introduction

What You Need to Know

How the Book Is Structured

Where's the Code?

Conventions Used in This Book

When the Web first came to the attention of the world's non-geeks back in the mid-1990s, the vastness and variety of its treasures were a wonder to behold. However, it didn't take long before a few courageous and intrepid souls dug a little deeper into this phenomenon and discovered something truly phenomenal: they could make Web pages, too!

Why was that so amazing? Well, think back to those old days and think, in particular, of what it meant to create what we now call content. Think about television shows, radio programs, magazines, newspapers, books, and the other media of the time. The one thing they all had in common was that their creation was a decidedly uncommon thing. It required a team of professionals, a massive distribution system, and a lot of money.

The Web appeared to change all that because learning HTML was within the grasp of anybody who could feed himself, it had a built-in massive distribution system (the Internet), and it required little or no money. For the first time in history, content was democratized and was no longer defined as the sole province of governments and mega-corporations.

Then reality set in.

People soon realized that merely building a Web site wasn't enough to attract "eyeballs," as the marketers say. A site had to have interesting, useful, or fun content, or people would stay away in droves. Not only that, but this good content had to be combined with a solid site design, which meant that Web designers needed a thorough knowledge of HTML and good design skills.

But, alas, eventually even all that was not enough. To make their Web sites work with the world's different browsers, to make their sites easy to navigate, and to give their sites those extra bells and whistles that surfers had come to expect, something more than content, HTML, and design was needed.

That missing link was JavaScript.

What we've all learned the hard way over the past few years is that you simply can't put together a world-class Web site unless you have some scripting prowess in your site design toolkit. You need to know how to script your way out of the basic problems that afflict most sites, and how to use scripts to go beyond the inherent limitations of HTML. And it isn't enough just to copy the generic scripts that are available on the Web and paste them into your pages. First of all, most of those scripts are very poorly written, and second of all they invariably need some customization to work properly on your site.

My goal in this book is to show you how to create your own JavaScript programs that are suited to your site and your content. My aim is to show you that JavaScript isn't hard to learn, and that even the most inveterate non-programmer can learn how to put together scripts that will amaze their friends (and themselves).

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