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In the beginning, the Web was simple. When I first encountered it in early 1993 (working for O'Reilly's Global Network Navigator), there was only one browser for viewing web pages, and it ran exclusively on the Unix platform. There were only about a dozen tags that did anything interesting. Designing a web page was a relatively simple task.

It didn't stay simple for long. With the explosion of the Web came an avalanche of new technologies, proprietary tags, and acronyms. Even for someone who is immersed in the terminology and environment on a professional basis, it can be truly overwhelming. You just can't keep all this stuff in your head anymore.

Since leaving O'Reilly's Cambridge, MA offices for a freelance career, I never feel more alone than when I get stuck -- whether it's because I don't know what audio format to use for a project, or I just can't remember what tag uses that MARGINWIDTH attribute. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I've been reduced to tears after battling a table that mysteriously refused to behave, despite my meticulous and earnest efforts.

It's at times like these that I wish I could walk down the hall and get advice from an expert co-worker. Without that luxury at my home office, I do the best I can with the volumes of web design information available online (on the Internet, no one knows you have red, puffy eyes). Unfortunately, finding the answer to a specific question is a time-consuming and sometimes equally frustrating process in itself. Deadlines often can't accommodate a two-hour scavenger hunt.

I wrote Web Design in a Nutshell because it was the book I needed -- one place to go to find quick answers to my questions. Apparently, lots of other folks needed it too, as it went on to be a best-seller and found a permanent home on the desks of web designers around the globe.

The difficult thing about writing about the Web is that it's a moving target, constantly changing and evolving. A lot has happened with the Web since I wrote the first edition in 1998. We've seen new technologies emerge and others fade away. The raging browser wars have quieted and the industry is inching towards standards compliance. Countless software versions have come and gone.

This new edition has been thoroughly reviewed and revamped to reflect the new web design environment. All HTML chapters have been updated to reflect the 4.01 specification, and the browser support information now reflects Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (in beta as of this writing) and Netscape 6. In keeping with current trends, there is a new emphasis on creating web pages according to standards -- using HTML for structure and Cascading Style Sheets for all style information. Although traditional nonstandard web tricks are still included for the sake of thoroughness, they are presented in a more cautionary tone.

In addition to the buff and shine on existing chapters, I've added a number of new chapters on important topics, including: printing pages from the Web (Chapter 5, "Printing from the Web"), making web pages accessible to users with disabilities (Chapter 6, "Accessibility"), Flash and Shockwave (Chapter 26, "Flash and Shockwave"), multimedia presentations with SMIL (Chapter 27, "Introduction to SMIL"), XHTML (Chapter 31, "XHTML"), and designing for the wireless web with WML (Chapter 32, "WAP and WML"). I'm pleased to say that this edition is a significant improvement over the last.

0.1. Contents

This book focuses on the front-end aspects of web design: HTML authoring, graphics production, and media development. It is not a resource for programming, scripting, or server functions; however, whenever possible, I have tried to provide enough background information on these topics to give designers a level of familiarity with the terminology and technologies. The content in this book is appropriate for all levels of expertise -- from professionals who need to look up a particular detail, to beginners who may require full explanations of new concepts and individual tags.

The book is divided into six parts, each covering a general subject area.

0.1.1. Part I, "The Web Environment"

Part I, "The Web Environment" introduces some broad concepts about the way the Web works, which should orient designers to the peculiarities of the medium. It ends with an introduction to the server and basic Unix concepts.

Chapter 1, "Designing for a Variety of Browsers", looks at how differing browser capabilities affect design decisions.

Chapter 2, "Designing for a Variety of Displays", discusses varying monitor resolutions and accessibility issues and their effects on the design process.

Chapter 3, "Web Design Principles for Print Designers", introduces how the Web deals with color, graphics, and fonts. This is particularly useful for those accustomed to print; however, it is also essential background information for any new web designer.

Chapter 4, "A Beginner's Guide to the Server", provides a primer on basic server functions, system commands, uploading files, and file types.

Chapter 5, "Printing from the Web", shows you how to control the way your pages look when they're printed.

Chapter 6, "Accessibility", covers ways in which you can make your pages accessible to users with hearing, sight, cognitive, or motor skills impairments.

Chapter 7, "Internationalization", addresses key issues for internationalization, including character sets and new language features in HTML 4 and CSS2.

0.1.2. Part II, "Authoring"

Part II, "Authoring" focuses on HTML tags and their use. Most chapters begin with a listing of available tags with short descriptions (for easy access), followed by more detailed explanations and practical advice for their use.

Chapter 8, "HTML Overview", gives a detailed introduction to HTML syntax, including how to specify color and special characters.

Chapter 9, "Structural HTML Tags", lists the tags used to establish an HTML document and structure its contents, including settings that control or pertain to the whole document.

Chapter 10, "Formatting Text", lists all tags related to the formatting of text elements in an HTML document.

Chapter 11, "Creating Links", lists HTML tags related to linking one document to another, including imagemaps.

Chapter 12, "Adding Images and Other Page Elements", focuses on the tags used for placing objects such as images, rules, or multimedia objects on a web page.

Chapter 13, "Tables", provides everything you'd ever want to know about tables, including a list of table-related HTML tags, troubleshooting tips, and templates for popular table structures.

Chapter 14, "Frames", covers the structure and creation of framed documents, including explanations of frame-related HTML tags, as well as tips and tricks.

Chapter 15, "Forms", lists all tags related to form creation and provides an introduction to working with CGI scripts.

Chapter 16, "Specifying Color in HTML", covers the two methods for specifying colors in web documents: RGB values and color name.

Chapter 17, "Cascading Style Sheets", describes how to use CSS to control presentation of HTML documents, including detailed explanations of available selectors, properties, and values. It also introduces CSS Level 2 features and provides tips for style sheet use.

Chapter 18, "Server Side Includes", provides an overview of Server Side Includes, including their capabilities and listings of the available elements and variables.

0.1.3. Part III, "Graphics"

The chapters in Part III, "Graphics" provide background information on web graphics file formats as well as overviews of available tools and practical tips for graphic production and optimization.

Chapter 19, "GIF Format", describes the popular GIF format and provides tricks for working with transparency and minimizing file sizes.

Chapter 20, "JPEG Format", describes the JPEG format and provides tips on minimizing file sizes.

Chapter 21, "PNG Format", shows you when and how to use this powerful graphic file format.

Chapter 22, "Designing Graphics with the Web Palette", discusses the tools and techniques used in creating graphics with colors from the Web Palette.

Chapter 23, "Animated GIFs", looks at the creation and optimization of those flashing, bouncing, and wiggling animated GIFs.

0.1.4. Part IV, "Multimedia and Interactivity"

The chapters in Part IV, "Multimedia and Interactivity" focus on the animation, audio, and interactive capabilities of the Web.

Chapter 24, "Audio on the Web", provides an overview of tools and file formats for creating nonstreaming and streaming audio on the Web.

Chapter 25, "Video on the Web", provides an overview of basic technology and concepts for creating nonstreaming and streaming video on the Web.

Chapter 26, "Flash and Shockwave", looks at Macromedia's Flash and Director Shockwave formats.

Chapter 27, "Introduction to SMIL", provides an introduction to how SMIL works and the elements used to control the timing and display of multimedia presentations.

0.1.5. Part V, "Advanced Technologies"

Part V, "Advanced Technologies" provides overviews of key technologies that allow implementation of advanced features in web sites.

Chapter 28, "Introduction to JavaScript", provides a general introduction to JavaScript as well as a number of templates for creating popular effects such as event handlers, browser-detection, and status-bar messages.

Chapter 29, "Introduction to DHTML", provides a basic overview of Dynamic HTML and related concepts.

Chapter 30, "Introduction to XML", briefly introduces XML (Extensible Markup Language) and explains why it is significant.

Chapter 31, "XHTML", reviews the differences and similarities between HTML 4.0 and XHTML.

Chapter 32, "WAP and WML", begins with a brief introduction to WAP and application development. The second half of the chapter focuses on WML and how it works, including a summary of the elements and attributes in the current WML specification.

0.1.6. Part VI, "Appendixes"

Part VI, "Appendixes" provides lots of useful look-up tables for HTML tags and CSS elements.

Appendix A, "HTML Elements", lists all HTML tags as listed in the HTML 4.0 specification of April 1998. This list also serves as an index to finding full tag explanations throughout the book.

Appendix B, "List of Attributes", lists all attributes and their respective tags and values.

Appendix C, "Deprecated Tags", lists all tags that have been "deprecated" (discouraged from use) by the HTML 4.0 specification.

Appendix D, "Proprietary Tags", lists tags that work only with Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer.

Appendix E, "CSS Support Chart", lists all CSS properties and the browsers that support them.

Appendix F, "Character Entities", lists all characters not found in the normal alphanumeric character set. The first part of this appendix presents the standard HTML character entities. The second part presents newly added entities in the HTML 4.0 specification that are not as well supported

The Glossary defines many of the terms used in the book.

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