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Overview for a beginner/advice


unkes60
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I have a few questions.. and would really appreciate some advice. I would really like to get into Web Design. I have already went through college and got a BFA in Photography and Graphic Design. Unfortunetly, they didn't teach us a thing on Web Design. After my experience I have decided I do not want to go back to school if I can possibly teach myself the things I need to know online and maybe get certified. Is this a bad idea on my part, would I be better off going and trying to get a tech diploma from a local school? (My ultimate goal is to get a job as a web designer in the future). Also, I have come to understand(from various posts) that the best first step is to learn HTML. I am in the process of doing this. Although, I cannot help but get sidetracked by the fact that there is XHTML, HTML 4.0, HTML 5 that I have heard of. So what is it that W3Schools is using for the tutorial? Then there are depreciated tags.. which I understand the issue, and thats just part of tech. But here is my question.. on top of the HTML variences, there is CSS(ya I know, style) but then there is Dreamweaver, ect. that comes in to play & then JavaScript, JQuery, AJAX, and countless other 'things' that I am not even sure of what they are. It all gets a little distracting. I feel like I am getting way ahead ofmyself trying to dive into HTML if I don't really know how any of these other languages ect. play into eachother. Is there any website, book, explaination or advice someone could give me to caregorize these and let me know how they all work with eachother and what there rolls are. Just a basic overview..? Thanks in advance-Steph

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Let's stick with the browser at first and forget about your server. Conceptually, a document has three things going on.Structure (HTML)Presentation (CSS)Behavior (JavaScript)A lot of documents work fine with no special behaviors, so JavaScript is usually the third thing you learn.AJAX is a javascript technique for communicating with servers. It can wait.jQuery is a code library that simplifies a lot of javaScript tasks. There are other libraries, too, but jQuery is well known. They can all wait.It is possible to create a document without any special colors, shapes, or sizes, so CSS is usually the second thing you learn. (Realistically, long before you master HTML, you'll want things to look good, so CSS really isn't a true second.)HTML comes first. Forget about HTML5 for now, and forget about XHTML probably forever. This is a short overview, so you'll just have to trust me.Learn HTML 4.01 first. Learn it well.Quick tip. If you look at a tutorial or a page you're thinking about copying, watch out for 2 things. 1, presentational tags like <font> or <center>. HTML like that is OLD. Stop looking at it before your eyes burn out. 2, uppercase letters. Back in the 90s it was common for people to write things like this: <A HREF="somewhere.html"></A> . If you see that, again, stop looking. It will pollute your brain. I'm not saying the case itself is evil, but it's a good sign that evil does lurk in the document.

Edited by Deirdre's Dad
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Good advice from DD. Additionally, you might find this site interesting. BTW, for future reference, depreciated and deprecated tags are different. Deprecated is a formal term for tags whose use is discouraged, and may be "discontinued" in future HTML specs. Depreciated, on the other hand, is what you feel toward tags you don't like. :)

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One more comment. If you want to make this more than a casual hobby, stay away from Dreamweaver, at least for a while. In fact, stay away from all WYSIWYG editors for a while. Do not let an editor write HTML for you, and never, ever drag-and-drop page elements from some sort of object palette into a WYSIWYG window. Write your HTML (and everything else) in text. You will understand what you are doing much, much better, and your HTML will be easier to read and understand than HTML generated by a machine.That said, certain text editors are specially designed for coding and have nice features like syntax highlighting and automatic code completion. If you're on Windows, Google and download Notepad++. It's free. If you're on a Mac, consider TextWrangler, also free.

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also, a lot of good advice has been posted in a similar topic in this sub-forum, which would be worth checking out.http://w3schools.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=35253

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HTML comes first. Forget about HTML5 for now, and forget about XHTML probably forever. This is a short overview, so you'll just have to trust me.Learn HTML 4.01 first. Learn it well.
Not to confuse OP even more, but doesn't HTML 5 follow the same rules/guidelines as XHTML? I mean, like self closing tags using <.../> instead of <...> So wouldn't it be a good idea to learn XHTML?
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Again, OP may wish to skip this post, or read it as a footnote to the big picture.As far as I can tell, self-closing tags are optional, included to make the migration from XHTML easier. Item 6 is relevant. Note the word "may."I'm not sure about following the XML rules for lowercase, but for a while now I've followed the rules in all my HTML, and I consider it best practice.

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HTML is very lenient with semantics. You can user any case for the tags, the attributes don't have to be enclosed in quotes, and unclosed tags won't effect the rest of the page, as in XHTML. However, I do use lowercase, enclose my attributes in quotes and close tags anyway. It is just good practice in case you every switch over the the XHTML DTD.

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Thank you all, this helps a lot :) So.. if AJAX is a javascript technique for communicating with servers. Then is that what someone would refer to as back-end development verses front-end? Just wondering.Where does Flash come into play in all of this? I know it is animation of some sort. Is it separate from HTML? My current website for my business which I did not build is a flash website from bludomain, http://www.kayephotography.comits a template where I can go log in and easily update my portfolio whenever I would like. Its fast, simple, cheap and looks great. I would like to someday be able to build something like this for myself.. is it possible and easy enough with out using flash or no?

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I don't know for sure, but I think the back-end is mainly about the functionality of the website (usually on the server-side), while front-end is the presentational side of the site. Flash is basically an interactive (usually) video. I haven't explored it much, but it is a powerful tool. Most slideshows and animated banners are made with flash. AFAIK, Flash can be hand-coded or created with a program. I believe flash is embedded into the HTML using <embed> tags. Again, flash is not a strong point of mine, so take this with a grain of salt.

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To clarify. Flash has almost nothing to do with HTML. Your browser actually requires a special Flash plugin to be able to display flash content.Originally, Flash was good for making prettier, cooler animations than you could get with an animated GIF. When it became interactive, people started using it to make menu and button systems that were beyond HTML and CSS at the time. It can still be used for all those things, but the interactive abilities have increased.I would not start learning Flash right away. Many developers never learn any Flash at all. Serious Flash applications are written by specialists, simply because there is a lot to learn about Flash, and it can do so much.

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Your browser actually requires a special Flash plugin to be able to display flash content.
This might make support for Flash sound poor, but 98% of browsers have the Flash plugin. Nevertheless, I would not recommend learning Flash immediately either. Edited by Fmdpa
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In my opinion you should stay away from flash completely due to the numerous security concerns and the overhead it puts machines. When you start JavaScript you will come across libraries that allow you to do similar animations etc with less slow down on your site.

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So.. if AJAX is a javascript technique for communicating with servers. Then is that what someone would refer to as back-end development verses front-end? Just wondering.
I would say that AJAX is a way to communicate with the back-end of a website. I would not say that it is part of the back-end. JavaScript runs on the client and therefor falls into the front-end category. PHP and MySQL would be examples of back-end languages. It's more about where the languages are run. Back-end languages run on the server, front-end languages run on the client (ie, in the browser). However, as Fmdpa pointed out, back-end development is usually all about the functionality of a website (though JavaScript can provide a lot of functionality too) and the front-end (which includes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) is all about presentation (again, with the exception of JavaScript).
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