Getting Started With Coding
Learning HTML is a lot like learning English.
Anyone can learn it, but if you don't learn the many irregular
rules, you stand a good chance of being mis-interpreted. (In
this instance, by a web-browser.) There are numerous ways
to achieve the same basic visual results. Sometimes one is
no better than another, sometimes there is a world of difference
in terms of the end-user's experience. This is a result of
two basic factors:
1.) HTML is not
a programming language. It is a mark-up language, originally
intended to manipulate text on a page. Many programmers in
fact find dealing with HTML rather annoying because of its
inconsistent results in different browsers on different platforms.
2.) Browser evolution.
Due in part to the "browser wars" (Netscape vs Explorer)
as much as due to developer choices not to agree on established
web standards, the most commonly used browsers, throughout
their evolution, have failed to render HTML in the same fashion.
A page that looks fine in Explorer on a
PC might "explode" in Safari on a Mac. This is probably
one of the toughest aspects of web design, if you care about
reaching all of your viewers with the same information. One
option: give up and design everything for the latest versions
of Explorer on Windows.... and proceed to lose some of your
best and brightest visitors, many of whom will be scientists,
moviemakers, or just plain smart people using Apple products.
In any case, about seventy percent of Internet users are still
using some combination of Windows and IE as of April 2005.
As with anything computer-related, things change rapidly when
it comes to web standards and commonly used code. The current
standard is XHTML, which folds HTML 4 into a formulation that
it is hoped will bring much more consistent rendering of content
across various platforms.
CSS is rapidly becoming much more common for entire page layouts,
replacing the cumbersome and code-heavy table-based layout
(The page you're viewing is layed out with tables, CSS is
only being used for text formatting).
In conclusion, there are many ways to achieve
desired visual results. We hope the links here give you a
good start on learning how to combine these tools to develop
the code you need to get the job done.