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The Internet has come a long way. In fact, even if you’re only a few months past 10 years old, you’ve seen the Internet and the World Wide Web grow up to affect nearly every aspect of global culture—education, commerce, politics, and entertainment. It’s been a fast change and one that affects most of us either personally, professionally or both.

One of the results has been the need for Web publishing skills for many knowledge workers, educators, and professionals. Hobbyists, club members, and parents can benefit as well from knowing a little something about Web publishing. In fact, Web publishing may one day be the “typing” of the future—nearly anyone with a secondary education will need a firm grasp on the basics.

For now, it’s an important bullet point on many résumés as well as the key to many plum assignments, both paid and unpaid. If you’re ready to put together and manage your own Web site, then it’s time to get a book on the subject and start learning. The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Web Page is the perfect place to start.

Is This the Book for You?

You can divide the study of Web publishing into two approaches—those that focus on the underlying code-level technologies and those that teach the broad strokes of Web publishing via graphical Web editors. This book is a friendly guide to the first of these approaches, showing you how to dig into the HTML and XHTML standards to build Web pages, manage Web sites, and augment them with further levels of complexity—style sheets and scripting among them. At the end of this book, you’ll understand many of the more complex issues involved in Web publishing, even if you don’t have a single Web page to your name.

Let me stress, however, that this book is not for everyone. The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Web Page is designed to take you from basic computer literacy—you understand how to create files and type in Windows, the Macintosh OS, or a variant of Unix—and help you build, manage, and maintain your first Web pages and Web sites. You’ll do this by building, chapter by chapter, an understanding of the authoring codes (for creating Web pages), the graphical and multimedia technologies, and eventually the scripting and programming basics necessary for a full interactive and interesting Web site.

If you’re interested in Web publishing skills for use in your company, organization, or education, you should find this book a great place to start. All the principles are outlined, terms are defined, and fundamentals are explained. And that’s done without the “cutesy” approach that some other beginner series can devolve into.

But I also want to be honest about the approach. If your goal is a “Web Page in a day,” this book isn’t for you. Likewise, if you plan to begin your foray into Web publishing using a particular graphical tool, such as Macromedia Dreamweaver, I’d suggest a book that specifically discusses that tool.

I believe that the approach in the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Web Page is the best one, because it’s still very important to understand the underlying code of today’s Web pages to truly soak up a new skill. Although graphical tools can help (and, in fact, I’ll cover a few of them in Chapter 20, “Graphical Editors”), anyone who wants to really understand Web pages and put together entire Web sites should consider the code-level approach that is found in these pages. Fortunately, learning XHTML, style sheets, JavaScript, and even Dynamic HTML really isn’t all that tough—in my opinion, a pricey Web editor can sometimes just get in your way!

How This Book Is Organized

This book is very much a tutorial, particularly in the first 19 chapters. It moves linearly from an introduction and overview of the basic Web publishing concepts, through the fundamentals of creating a Web page, and on to more complex topics. Here’s a breakdown:

Part I: Creating Web Pages—In this first section you’re introduced to the concepts and terms you’ll see throughout the book, including the Internet, the Web, HTML, XHTML, style sheets, JavaScript, and many more. Chapter 2, “A Crash-Course in Web Design,” offers a primer on Web design fundamentals and Chapter 3, “What You Need to Get Started,” covers the tools you’ll need before setting out on your Web authoring adventure (text editors and applications to manipulate graphics). This section ends in Chapter 4, “Creating Your First Page,” with the creation of a sample Web page and a template for future pages.

Part II: Design and Conquer—In this second section you learn most of the basics of creating Web pages using XHTML. You begin with basic text and paragraph formatting, including headings, text styles, and special types of paragraph blocks, including bulleted and numbered lists. Chapter 6, “Visual Stimulus—Adding Graphics,” introduces you to Web images, including how to add them to pages and what file formats you can use. Chapter 7, “Building Hypertext Links,” is all about creating hyperlinks—the technology at the heart of the Web—including links that point to external Web pages and those that point to parts of the current document. Chapter 8, “Basics Tables,” introduces you to XHTML tables, which can be used, as discussed in Chapter 9, “Advanced Table Elements and Table Design,” for formatting entire pages. Chapter 10, “Get Splashy: Style Sheets, Fonts, and Special Characters,” discusses style sheets: the “modern” way to change the appearance of text, alter margins, and otherwise control the look of your Web pages. Chapter 11, “Advanced Web Images and Imagemaps,” finishes out the section with an in-depth look at Web images, including how to optimize them for use in your pages.

Part III: Building Your SitePart III moves on to some of the Web-building technologies that can be applied to an entire Web site—a collection of individual pages that work together. Chapter 12, “Creating Sites with HTML Frames,” begins with XHTML Frames, which enable you to split a Web browser window into different frames so that more than one Web page can be displayed at once. Frames are a great way to quickly create an “interface” for viewing many different Web documents. Chapter 13, “Adding Multimedia and Java Content,” discusses multimedia content—movies, animations, and audio—along with Java technology, which actually enables you to place small computer programs on a Web page with which your users can interact. Chapter 14, “Site-Wide Styles: Design, Accessibility, and Internationalization,” finishes this section with a look at how you can use the style sheet specifications to select and alter the look of all the documents that comprise your Web site.

Part IV: Interacting with Your Users—In this section you learn some of the technologies you can use on the Web to receive input from your users and respond to that input. Chapter 15, “Adding HTML Forms,” begins with a primer on XHTML forms, which enable you to add entry boxes, checkboxes, menus, and other controls to your Web documents. Chapter 16, “CGIs and Data Gathering,” introduces you to CGI programming, which is often used in conjunction with XHTML forms to respond to user input via forms. Chapter 17, “Introduction to JavaScript,” and Chapter 18, “JavaScript and User Input,” focus on JavaScript, a popular scripting language that you can use to automate portions of your Web page. Chapter 19, “Adding Dynamic HTML,” covers some topics that are often called “dynamic HTML” or DHTML, because they combine JavaScript and style sheets to make the appearance of Web pages seem to change in response to choices that the user makes.

Part V: Web Publishing Tools—The last part of the book focuses on software and services you can use to extend your Web publishing experience. Chapter 20, “Graphical Editors,” covers some popular graphical Web-authoring packages, such as Macromedia Dreamweaver and Microsoft FrontPage. Chapter 21, “Forums, Chats, and Other Add-Ons,” focuses on enhancements for your Web server—specifically, scripts and other programs you can use to add page counters, interactive forums, and chat rooms. Chapter 22, “Web Publishing Services,” ends with a look at some different Web server solutions, including free Web servers and companies that offer e-commerce solutions.

In addition to these sections, this book also includes an appendix that features a quick reference to many of the elements in the XHTML specification and the CSS style sheet standards.

Conventions Used in This Book

As you’re reading you’ll notice that a few different elements are used within the body of the text to break things up and to offer some additional information. Those items include


Notes are designed to define terms or give you additional important or interesting information about a particular topic. You should read the notes you come across, as they generally add something important to the text.


A tip is usually a suggestion or shortcut that’s along the same lines as the body text, but a little off topic. If you find the tip useful, you can make use of it in your Web authoring; otherwise, it should be safe to ignore.

You’ll also find sidebars in some chapters that go off on an interesting tangent, generally to simply offer more information than you really need on a given topic. If you want to ignore sidebars, you should be able to without trouble.

As you read the text, you’ll come across some typographic conventions as well. When certain elements and attributes, particularly those that are special parts of the XHTML specification, are mentioned in the text, they’ll appear in a different font, from the regular body text. Items that you’re meant to type, on the other hand, will often appear in bold. And code listings that require more than one line will be:

separated from the text.
And will often appear in small chunks between the paragraphs
that explain that code.

For More Information

To ask a question, report an error, or for more information on the this book, visit http://www.mac-upgrade.com/abgcwp/ on the Web. There you’ll find updates from me, Q&As (if I receive any questions), and links to my e-mail address and online forums for asking questions or making comments.

Thank you for considering this book and I wish you the best of luck—and skill—in your Web publishing projects!

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