Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Old Way

In HTML, XHTML, and CSS, Sixth Edition: Visual QuickStart Guide, I was faced with a quandary. Should I continue to talk about old, deprecated tags that had fallen out of favor? I've never been much of an extremist and don't like to dictate gospel. At the same time, I don't want new Web page designers to come across really old-fashioned tags like font and unwittingly use them in a professional setting. On the other, other hand, it feels like the book isn't complete if it doesn't cover the entire specifications, and whether the W3C likes it or not, the font tag is still perfectly valid HTML and XHTML (as long as you're using a Transitional Doctype). Perhaps more importantly, there are still sites that use these tags and it's helpful to know what they mean.

So, I decided to take the chapters out of the printed book and offer them to my readers on my Web site. The chapters included appear exactly as they did in the Fifth Edition, including page references and black and white illustrations. While I did consider updating these chapters, I'd rather spend my energy going forward with some new ideas. (I've got lots of stuff planned!)

Here's a brief explanation of why none of these chapters were included in the print edition:

I thought frames were the cat's pajamas back when they were introduced. (The example page that I created as I was exploring frames continues to be one of the most popular areas of my entire Web site.) Frames seemed like the ideal way to combine static navigation and branding areas with dynamic content areas. Frames have several disadvantages, however. First, their scroll bars take up a lot of space in the browser window. Second, they take all the power away from the visitor, since the size of the various frames is all up to the designer. Third, browsers don't navigate them that well, dealing with only the main frameset's URL instead of each individual frame's URL. If a visitor attempts to bookmark the page that's showing, they often don't get what they expect.

The death knell came from search indexes. Because a frameset is made up of several files, and each of these files may be indexed individually, it was entirely possible that the navigation area or a content area might appear by itself in search results—with no supporting frames.

The standard way to achieve static and dynamic areas in a Web page is to repeat a portion of the page—generally the navigation or branding areas—and then change just the part that is different. Use CSS to position the static areas in precisely the same position. My Web site is set up in that way. Note how the navigation areas to the left and top remain (relatively) static while the lower right content area changes.


Back in 2002, when I wrote the Fifth Edition of this book, it looked like WML might win the day with mobile Web sites. There were few phones that could read XHTML and fewer still that could use CSS. Today, that has all shifted. While most phones still understand WML, most phones also can understand XHTML and CSS. And not only is it easier to learn a single technology instead of two, it's much easier to write one set of Web pages and leverage them for two (or more) purposes by creating a CSS style sheet just for mobile visitors.

Formatting: The Old Way

The HTML tags in the first Old Way chapter were already on their way out when I relegated them to the back of the Fifth Edition. There are the basefont and font elements for controlling size, color, and font face, the text, link, vlink, alink attributes of the body element for changing the color of text and links, the strike and u elements which have been replaced by the logical elements del and ins, and the completely non-standard blink element which was one of Netscape's more popular and most hated extensions.

Of those tags, only strike and u are remotely acceptable by today’s standards. Nevertheless, I continue to see the font element used and generated by Web page programs so you may want to know how it works.

I do not recommend using any of the elements explained in this chapter.

Layout: The Old Way

If the elements in the Formatting: The Old Way chapter are unfashionable, many of the elements in this chapter are downright illegal, never having made it into the official specifications at all. There is one element, however, that I decided could not be removed from the book altogether. That is center. The center tag is an abbreviation for the slightly more standard but equally deprecated combination of <div align="center">, yet it is blissfully straightforward and simple. I brought it back to the Basic (X)HTML Formatting chapter on page 79 of the Sixth Edition. The rest of the stuff in the Layout: The Old Way chapter should probably best be forgotten. I offer it to you on the site for historical purposes only.
If you are still interested in looking at these chapters, see the Old Way Chapters section of the Extras part of my Web site.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

HTML, XHTML, and CSS 6th Edition Web Site

Putting all the examples from my books online is, in a word, a pain. It takes hours and hours to make sure that the files I've used as examples match the versions that I'm linking to on the Web pages. And since I've just been through a huge push to get the book done, my energy meter is really low (as my kids would say).

Still, I want you, my reader, to be able to read along in the book and then be able to find the example file on line and see if it really works as promised (and you can, and it does).

You can now find all the examples online.

You can also download the examples to work with locally from that same page. The index file in the download has a slightly different base tag so that the examples will be linked locally and not to my site. I have tested them pretty thoroughly, both on Mac and Windows and they work fine.

Nevertheless, please do contact me if you have any trouble or find any errata. (And if you suddenly find yourself transported to the Fifth edition pages, please let me know. It shouldn't happen!)

I hope you find it all useful.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Available at Barnes and Noble!

I've been haunting bookstores and finally found my new Sixth Edition available at Barnes and Noble! For 20% off!


Monday, August 14, 2006

HTML 6ed Table of Contents

Well, I got my first copies of the new Sixth Edition of my HTML, XHTML, and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide in my hands! They're beautiful, if I do say so myself! All full color, really clear, bigger example code, great new chapters. I'm pleased!

Check out the new Table of Contents.

I should have examples up by tomorrow. The rest of the site will be in a state of flux for the next few days, but hopefully not much longer than that.

You can preorder the book from Amazon for 37% off!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Foreign Language Editions

A number of readers have asked me if the new Sixth Edition of my HTML, XHTML, and CSS book will be available in other languages and so I've been researching that. Currently, the Fifth Edition is available in Chinese, Croatian, Finnish, French, Greek, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, and Spanish.

There are Fourth Edition books also available in Bulgarian, Dutch, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese.

You can find the full table, with as many book covers as I could find, in the About section on my Web site.

As soon as I have more information about Sixth Edition translations, I'll post it here.

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