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Fiddler's Green
Learning HTML

The resources on the Web itself are more than sufficient to learn HTML. Do Not go running to the store and buy the latest How-To book. Everything you need to know is somewhere here on the Web. Now, all we need to do is find it. Below you will find links to some of the best on-line Tutorials. After writing a page, there are other references on the Web that will validate your source, ensuring that the source is standard. Some even include spell checkers.

Just as an example, I have yet to buy a book on HTML. The actual creation of these pages took some time, but I was able to master the basic concepts of writing HTML in under an hour. This is not rocket science. Not only are the tutorials and other resource materials available, but also a very neat feature of the browser you are using right now can come in handy. If you see a page you really like, View the Source HTML, save it to disk, and use the format, concepts, or coding. For more design tips (really my biased opinion on how things should be done), see Advice and Tips


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NCSA Beginners' Guide to HTML
A great place to begin. Plenty of examples and a good layout.
HTML Quick Reference (08/20/96)
Quick, dirty, no frills.
Introduction to HTML: Table of Contents
Everything necessary to learn HTML. A Quiz after each chapter <ugh>!
Beginners, no experience needed.
From Case Western Reserve University
Intermediate Level HTML: Table of Contents
Contains all tags in a indexed format. Plus Forms and more!
From Case Western Reserve University
Wilbur - HTML 3.2
A nice reference work. Does not contain frames. There is an off-line version in HTML, Windows Help file, an Apple version, and (drum roll, please!!) an OS/2 INF formats available for download. Contains everything for off-line viewing. Ensure to unzip using switch to create subdirectories for the HTML version.
The Netscape Frames Tutorial(tm) - NewbieNET
Five lessons on how to implement frames in your pages. Remember this may limit the number of people that can access your page. At least include the "no frames" switch so everyone may enjoy your work.
Frames -An Introduction
Netscape's Introduction to Frames. Might as well learn from those that started the whole mess.
Introduction to CGI Scripts and HTML Forms[ New ]
This document describes the Common Gateway Interface in some detail. It focuses on the ways in which a form, a client browser, a server, and the HTTP protocol work together.

Other References

When using the validators ensure that any <!doctype ....> expression includes the appropriate arguments. The type of HTML document must be in uppercase; i.e. "-//W3C//DTD HTML 3.2//EN"

HTML Writers Guild
Introductions, references, validation, style guides, demos/test pages, and specifications for HTML. An all in one source about HTML
A Kinder, Gentler HTML Validator[ New ]
A fantastic validator. Highly recommended. Quick, easy to understand. This is what I use. Have to get rid of the counters with invalid CGI scripting ;-)
Quality assurance for Web pages. The authors home page where you can download the program to run on your own machine.
Doctor HTML v4
Nice report layout. Spell checking. Works best with Netscape, I have had spotty performance using WebEx. Probably uses hidden variables.
WebTechs Validation Service
Free service, but at times difficult to understand the results.
Validation service. Will check first 2048 bytes for free. Unlimited checking requires registration and payment

Advice and Tips

I would appreciate any feedback or some constructive tips on the source I've written. Whether the source is cluttered, not to standard, or if there are better ways to implement the displays. My goal is to present a browser neutral page, though with an emphasis towards IBM's WebExplorer.

These pages were made using HTML-Ed v0.96b. I used Lynx 2.6, Netscape/2 2.02 and WebExplorer 1.1h to view the pages as they were being made. These are all native OS/2 programs. If there is another browser that you use and the pages appear distorted, let me know. Due to Microsoft's new version of the Internet Explorer for Win95, I do not intend to use the old version in testing this site.

Visit the home page of the Lynx  Netscape  WebExplorer browsers and HTML-Ed web page editor.

Want to know who's winning the browser wars, find plug-ins, or 'just' a professional web surfer, then check out Browser Watch.

[ Any Browser ]

Join the Any Browser Campaign. Make the Internet a surfer friendly environment. Do not allow the browser companies to dictate how WE surf. Optimize your site for your default browser all you wish. Ensure though by doing so that it does not impact on another surfer's choice of browser.

The two most popular browsers are Netscape and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Each of these browsers uses proprietary HTML coding that is not recognized within any of the published standards. If you can't tell yet, my personal philosophy is that Web pages should be written so that the maximum number of individuals may access your page. The access provided to surfers, using what some may call archaic methods, should allow complete access to the content you wish to provide without any severe degradation in either format or content. Two tests that each page should be able to pass: Text Mode and 640 x 480 video mode.

When using coding from other pages, be careful. Different browsers may use proprietary coding or interpret coding in a different manner. For example, WebExplorer could care less about not closing a quote (") in an anchor tag for hyperlinks. On the other hand, Netscape will continue to highlight text as a hyperlink until it finds another quotation mark. Yet, in Netscape when using the primary list or table tags, all it does is marry up a closing tag, i.e. a closing definition list tag (</dl>) will close an unordered list (<ul>) opening tag. WebExplorer actually ensures that not only are there opening and closing tags, but that the tags are for the same thing. Just because the browser you have may use particular coding, others may not. By using different browsers to test your page you can find coding mistakes that you would never have noticed using your default browser. Unless of course you make use of one of the above validation services.

Almost by default, frames have become widely accepted through the use of Netscape. Ensure you use the <noframes> tag. Do not put a link on the page to download a frames capable browser as your only option to access a site. If the surfer wanted to or could run such a browser they would already have one. IMO, the only proper use for frames is to provide an index that follows the surfer to each page on your site. How many sites contain enough information that an index is needed at your fingertips. The reason most webmasters give is that the surfer does not have to scroll to find the index. By using frames you waste desk space, a precious commodity, by possibly having two vertical scroll bars and a horizontal scroll bar dependant upon his video resolution. Most individuals will give up if they have to scroll horizontally to read text. Not all of us are blessed with a 17" monitor and a video card capable of 1600 x 1200 or use 1024 x 768 on a 14" monitor (though I do). Plan for the worse, 640 x 480.

Programming languages are starting to enter HTML documents, java and active/x. Some browsers do not support hidden variables, others have a difficult time with server or client side image maps. All of these examples limit the number of people that may be able to enjoy your page. Believe it or not, there are still people that either choose or are limited by their access to surfing the internet in text mode only. Frames, java, and active/x are not standardized throughout the industry. It's safest to stay with HTML 3.2, Wilbur, though there are still browsers out there that may have problems with forms or tables.

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Fiddler's Green / Keith Horsfield / afn09454@afn.org / updated 27 Jan 97