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SAMS Teach Yourself HTML 4 in 24 Hours


Teach Yourself HTML 4 in 24 Hours

A year ago I searched the library, bookshops, and computer magazines for a good book about HTML or website design, and I failed to find one!

Review by Chard
A year on, and now the proud owner of not one, but at least 8 websites, and at last I have found what was so elusive only a year ago. To digress slightly, our first website 24carat.co.uk went live on November 28th 1998. The initial design work was done by Doug Smith of your-name-here. Within a month it could boast over 50 pages and growing. At that stage, I took over the production of new pages, by the simple method of using an existing page as a template, and editing the content. Naturally, I made mistakes, but Doug helped to sort them, and me, out. Doug's approach could be stated as "Keep It Simple", and I have now adopted that as my own approach to web page and site design. In July 1999, I found Teach Yourself HTML 4 in 24 Hours, and found that its advice mirrors Doug's very closely.

When I first saw the book title, I thought "Pull the other leg!", but the cover clearly explains that book is split into 24 lessons, each of one hour. I stand converted, it is possible to read most of the chapters in a half hour or less, but to absorb the lessons takes a little longer. It is fair to say that if you could only spare an hour or two each day, you could have a very thorough knowledge of HTML basics in less than a month, and have constructed a very effective website in the process.

One of the first pieces of great advice is to use a simple text editor rather than a "whizzbang" do-it-all-for-you program. The author Dick Oliver explains that using a simple text editor will enable you to understand what you are doing, and also "code" produced manually is easier to understand and de-bug than that produced by most of the specialist software. This mirrors Doug's advice which is to use "Arachnophilia", a simple but powerful HTML editor.

The suggested graphic program to use is Paint Shop Pro. This is what Doug also uses and recommends.

The purpose of this "thumbnail" review is to get the message over that if you wish to develop your own web pages, get hold of this book and read it before doing anything else. A more complete review will follow when I have time.

If you look closely, you will see there are now close connections between "Your-Name-Here" and "Chard". All our websites are hosted through Y-N-H. Doug and I both saw the vast potential of the growing internet market that Y-N-H was formed as a joint venture. I get to see that about half its customers decide to use Microsoft's Front Page as their web authoring package, and over 90% of the support problems he gets are related to Front Page. The clients who use "simple" HTML software seem to get far fewer problems.

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