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HTML/XHTML Tutorial 1 - The Basics


Forum: Graphic and Web Design

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October 15th, 2009, 07:33 AM
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First let me say that learning HTML/XHTML isn’t hard at all. Most people hear these terms and think that it takes a lot of studying in order to grasp how it is done. However, with these simple tutorials you should be able to create a web page or complete website in no time.

What is HTML and XHTML?
Before we begin it is important that you understand the difference between HTML and XHTML.

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It is the primary language used to create a web page. Often HTML is incorrectly confused with the term “code”. HTML is a language because it only deals with the structure of a page. A code is what creates an application and/or dynamic content of a web page.

XHTML stands for Extensible Hypertext Markup Language. It is actually no different than HTML. There are no additional elements to learn. XHTML is just a stricter and cleaner way of HTML. As long as you use the following three simple rules you will be creating XHTML instead of HTML:
  • XHTML elements must be properly nested
  • XHTML elements must always be closed
  • XHTML elements must be in lowercase
  • XHTML documents must have one root element.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand these rules right now. As we go through the tutorials I will explain them further for you.

What tools do you need?
In order to create your web pages you will need some very simple tools. Most of these tools can be found already on your computer. Others you might have to download. I will provide you with a small list of tools that you can get at little or no cost.

HTML Editor: You need this in order to create your web pages. You can simply use your Notepad or WordPad applications already on your computer. Also, it good to keep in mind that many web hosts provide a web based file editor that you can use. If you prefer to have something a little fancier, there is free software you can download. Here is a list of those I have used and highly recommend:

FTP Program: FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a standard network protocol used to exchange and manipulate files over a TCP/IP based network, such as the Internet. In simple terms you will need this program to transfer your files from your desktop to your web host’s server. Most web hosts do provide you with a File Manager that allows you to upload your files within your web browser; however, I have found it much easier to have my own. The choice is up to you, but if you would like to use a program here is a list of free and very easy programs for you to download.

Web Host and Domain Name: Most will list these separate, but they go hand in hand. A domain name is the web address of the website and the web host is where your files are stored to be viewed online. You cannot have one without the other.

Personally, my suggestion for you if you are creating a business website is to invest in both a domain name and a web host. Clients can find you a lot easier with a name such as www.creativename.com rather than creativename.webhost.com. You also have more options to customize your website when you purchase web hosting. However, again this is not a requirement. What ever you decide just make sure have a simple domain name.

As far as who to choose as a web host that is something you might have to shop around for. Below I have a list of web hosts I personally recommend. I recommend them because they have limited server downtimes (meaning your website is viewable more than it is not because of server maintenance or errors), they have great customer service, and they are simple enough to use. I also have to make a point that some free hosts require some type of forced ad be placed on your website and they limit how much space you can use for your files. Each of these web hosts offer both free service and paid with domain name registration.

Graphic Program: Now although this isn’t absolutely necessary because you can find a lot of websites online that offer free graphics for you to use; however, if you want to create your own then you will need something. Most computers come with the Paint program or something similar. If you know how to create graphic with these programs then definitely do so. If you want something fancier, then below is a list of highly recommended programs you can download that are absolutely free.

Conclusion
Well, this should be enough for us to get started on the next tutorial where you will actually begin creating your first web page. Please do not start on the next part if you have not at least acquired the right tools.

Also, it is important that I point out that these tutorials are only setup to help you learn XHTML. If are trying to create an actual website at the same time, which more than likely you are, it is best that you also take time out to read the post about “Planning Your Website” before you get started. This is especially important if you’re creating a business website. Knowing what you are adding to your website and how you want it added is essential.
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