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  1. #1
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    web design - progressing

    Hi everyone,

    I am very new to web design. I have recently purchased "build your own website the right way using HTML and CSS" and have found it fascinating. So much so that I would like to progress further and maybe - in years to come and with much more practice - try to do it professionally.

    So here is my question: Having read the fore mentioned book, I am starting to get to grips with the very basics but I am doing it all with Gedit (linuxes version of notebook) and am sure there are lots of great programs out there that help with web design. What would be the best ones to use (that are compatible with linux) and what would be the appropriate next books to purchase to help me carry on with design. If possible, at the moment I am looking for inexpensive programs and books as I recently lost my job so money is a little tight.

    Any suggestions and advice would be very welcome.

  2. #2
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    If you're just starting, and willing to learn to do things the right way, I think you're already using a good tool. I don't use gedit myself, but a quick check indicates that it at least does syntax highlighting (which helps immensely, even for experienced developers), has spell checking and can display line numbers (useful when you get validation errors). It can do autoindent and there appears to be a whole host of plugins that can be helpful. I use gvim, which should be installed on your Linux system. It's more capable, but it's also got a rather steep learning curve if you're not familiar with it.

    There is software that lets you create web pages by pointing and clicking, but they generate the code for you and they don't usually do a very good job of it.

    It's far better to handcode if you want to learn. It gives you total control, and requires that you understand what you're doing. In the end, the quality of your code will be much better than that generated by point-and-click software.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  3. #3
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    Hi AutisticCuckoo,

    Thats great, thanks for your help. Do professional web designers handcode? The reason I ask is that I am prepared to learn whichever would be the best way, however I did not want to learn one way (for example totally by hand) and then have to relearn everything because it would be better to use software to design websites. Also I am having great troubles trying to memorize all the markup. Is there any reference guide available that shows 100 of the most used markup.

    One last question also if its not too much trouble, what book would you suggest as the next step for me? I took a look at the link for the CSS book at the bottom of your note and that looks interesting. Would you advise the next step would be to learn more CSS or more XHTML/HTML?

    Thanks again for your time.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jan23778 View Post
    Do professional web designers handcode?
    That depends on your definition of 'professional'.
    If you mean 'people who make money by creating websites', then the answer is 'some of them, but probably a minority'.
    If you mean 'people who make standards-compliant, accessible websites for a living', then the answer is probably 'most of them'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jan23778 View Post
    The reason I ask is that I am prepared to learn whichever would be the best way, however I did not want to learn one way (for example totally by hand) and then have to relearn everything because it would be better to use software to design websites.
    Even if you eventually start using some design software, you still need to have a firm grasp of the basics. As I said, software doesn't 'know' what it's designing. It mainly focuses on the visual aspects, which really have nothing to do with HTML (only CSS).

    So you're not wasting any effort by learning to handcode. On the contrary, it will let you make the most of any future design software, because you'll understand what it's doing (and what it's doing wrong).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jan23778 View Post
    Also I am having great troubles trying to memorize all the markup. Is there any reference guide available that shows 100 of the most used markup.
    The markup used depends on the content, since the purpose of HTML is to mark up the meaning (semantics) and structure of a document. HTML has also been horribly abused, especially since the mid '90s, so the most used element types are not necessarily the ones that should have been most used.

    Memorising the element types will come naturally once you start creating web documents. Some of them you'll use a lot on most pages (<p> for paragraphs, <a> for links, <ul> for unordered lists, etc.). Some you may use a lot for certain types of pages (like <table> for tabular information, or <form> for interactive forms). Then there are some that you may rarely use at all, unless you're writing specific types of documents (<dfn> for a defining instance of a term, <code> for code fragments, <samp> for output samples, etc.).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jan23778 View Post
    One last question also if its not too much trouble, what book would you suggest as the next step for me?
    I'm not really qualified to answer that question, since I haven't read many books on basic or intermediate HTML and CSS. (I learned this stuff before people started writing books about it. )

    Quote Originally Posted by Jan23778 View Post
    I took a look at the link for the CSS book at the bottom of your note and that looks interesting.
    I'd like to think that The Ultimate CSS Reference is a valuable resource for most web designers and developers, but it's a reference book, not a tutorial. It assumes that you know the basics and helps you with the stuff that's hard to memorise. I think it would be quite useful for you, but there might be other books you'd need first.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jan23778 View Post
    Would you advise the next step would be to learn more CSS or more XHTML/HTML?
    HTML is the absolute foundation, and any designer/developer should have a solid understanding of what it can and cannot do. XHTML is rather silly; you should know about the differences between it and HTML, but I don't recommend that you use it until you're sure that you need it. (And that day may never come.)

    CSS takes a bit longer to learn than HTML, but will probably feel much more rewarding (since it provides visual feedback of your efforts). The main problem is the different browser implementations, and the only way to learn about those is experience – and useful sites like the SitePoint CSS Reference and Position is Everything.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

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    AutisticCuckoo, You are great!!

    Thank you very much for all of your answers and information it has been of great help and has clarified a lot of things for me.

    Thanks again and have a great day.

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    I have Tommy's great book however as he said, its a reference not a teaching aid.

    I have and read the "build your own website the right way using HTML and CSS" which was a good insight however I also went on to read the following:

    HTML Utopia: Designing Without Tables Using CSS, 2nd Edition
    I found this better than the so called "dummies" books, Rachael and Dan have put thought into who is likely to read the book and made sure its understandable in the simplest terms.

    The CSS Anthology: 101 Essential Tips, Tricks & Hacks, 2nd Edition
    Rachael's tiips are perfect for the newbie, this is the book you want before the Reference book, why? Well its packed full of those little things your cant remember how to do because your still new at it so its a more hady reference than the one by Tommy and Paul (no offence to either).

    Now it might seem overkill but you cant learn CSS from 1 book alone and it's pointless having a shelf full of material you dont use. But this is the route I took and its worked out great. I spent a couple of weeks invested in simply reading articles on CSS and the benefits then I dived in.

    Two weeks after I read the books above I am not perfect but I have been able to build 14 test sites in any layout chosen without too much difficulty and asking a lot of qestions on here. So I by no means consider my self any good yet however I can d a lot with CSS.

    Sorry for going on.....
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    I think it would be quite useful
    It is useful indeed, but you already know that
    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    XHTML is rather silly; you should know about the differences between it and HTML, but I don't recommend that you use it until you're sure that you need it. (And that day may never come.)
    I would agree with you if it wasn't for the fact that, for some reason, mobile web browsers seem to be designed to display XHTML pages better. Even Google assumes that if you are creating a page for a mobile phone you will use XHTML. Why? I don't understand why they took this path and I don't know. I do understand that the reason to create XHTML was to smooth the transition from HTML to XML but since almost all the time was served as text and not as an application, it didn't make much sense.

    I don't know if a site created for mobile devices is served as an application, though. That may be the explanation and I guess that it would make sense then. I don't use my mobile for browsing and I haven't looked any source from one of these sites.

    Still, this makes XHTML a bit less silly, I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by molona View Post
    I would agree with you if it wasn't for the fact that, for some reason, mobile web browsers seem to be designed to display XHTML pages better.
    Do you have any proof of that? I find it very difficult to believe, since the percentage of XHTML pages on the Web is negligible. Oh, there are tons of pages that contain XHTML markup, but almost all of them are served as text/html and must be treated like any other HTML page.

    No mobile browser can afford to ignore HTML.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    Do you have any proof of that? I find it very difficult to believe, since the percentage of XHTML pages on the Web is negligible. Oh, there are tons of pages that contain XHTML markup, but almost all of them are served as text/html and must be treated like any other HTML page.

    No mobile browser can afford to ignore HTML.
    Ok, ok... Lately I am finding hard to express what I want to say. It is not that mobile browsers can't display HTML or that they do display XHTML better than HTML. I said it wrong.

    It seems that, for some reason that I don't understand, sites created with mobile devices in mind should be using XHTML (specifically XHTML-MP or Mobile Profile). And Google, in its Webmaster Tools, assumes that your pages for mobile devices use XHTML.

    Of course, the only thing I know about XHTML-MP is that it doesn't differ much from XHTML 1.0 strict... I am sure that there is a reason for this. I simply don't know it.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Member JonathanKF's Avatar
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    If you intend on moving onto PHP or JAVA (or any of the other languages it supports!) then I definitely recommend NetBeans. It's a cross-platform IDE that I use for all my PHP, XHTML and CSS. I use it on Windows, but it's Java-based and there are Linux versions available too!

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    Thanks for the NetBeans tip Jonathan, just been trying it out and I like it a lot.
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  12. #12
    SitePoint Member liam_tmt7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanKF View Post
    If you intend on moving onto PHP or JAVA (or any of the other languages it supports!) then I definitely recommend NetBeans. It's a cross-platform IDE that I use for all my PHP, XHTML and CSS. I use it on Windows, but it's Java-based and there are Linux versions available too!
    Interesting that you mention NetBeans

    I have used this previously for JAVA development, but never php xhtml or css, what support does netbeans have for these scripting languages?


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