THE HTML WRITERS GUILD

HWG-Techniques List FAQ


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  1. What is the HWG-Techniques List Charter?
  2. Where I can find a complete list of all the html tags and their attributes?
  3. What are Cascading Style Sheets and how are they used?
  4. What is validation? Why should I do it? How do I do it?
  5. What is a DOCTYPE?
  6. How can I make sure my Web pages are accessible to as many browsers as possible, including older browsers, non-graphical browsers and speech-based browsers for the vision-impaired?
  7. What special considerations do I need to consider with Web TV?
  8. I keep hearing about character codes. What are they?
  9. Other useful URLs
  10. What and where are the HWG Resources?
  11. How can I contribute to the HWG Resources?
  12. HWG URLs
  13. Where can I send comments and/or suggestions about this document?

1.  What is the HWG-Techniques List Charter?

The hwg-techniques list is targeted toward those who are of intermediate to advanced skill level. Its charter incorporates the issues of both "how to do it" and "why/when to do it" as they relate to Web site design and creation.

The Guild offers a number of other lists that cover specific topics. For more information please see the HWG's mailing list page at http://www.hwg.org/lists/mailinglists.html

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2.  Where I can find a complete list of all the html tags and their attributes?

There are many such lists on the Web and in various books on Web development.

The definitive html reference can be found at the W3C's official site at http://www.w3.org.

Also check out the W3C's html information at http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/MarkUp.html

The official html 4.0 specification can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/

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3.  What are Cascading Style Sheets and how are they used?

Style sheets describe how documents are presented on screens, in print, or perhaps how they are pronounced. By attaching style sheets to structured documents on the Web (e.g. HTML), authors and readers can influence the presentation of documents without sacrificing device-independence or adding new HTML tags. Cascading Style Sheets were developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Style sheets have been an W3C activity since the consortium was founded and has resulted in the development of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). The easiest way to start experimenting with style sheets is to find a browser that supports CSS1.

The definitive document on CSS, from the W3C: http://www.w3.org/Style/css.

The HWG's own faq on CSS: http://www.hwg.org/resources/faqs/cssFAQ.html

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4.  What is validation? Why should I do it? How do I do it?

Validation is using a program that will go through your HTML and check for accuracy against the DOCTYPE you have chosen. If there are any inconsistencies in your HTML from your DOCTYPE, the validator will give you an error message to help you track down the error and fix it before considering the work "done".

A few reasons for validation (NOT, of course, a complete listing):

  • You can be assured that your page will render similarly in all browsers that support the DOCTYPE standard you have chosen to write under.
  • There will be less unexpected rendering of your page.
  • Validating will catch "misspellings" in your HTML and find little things such as missing end tags or quotes (validators are NOT, however, spellcheckers).

To validate your page, choose a DOCTYPE and place the statement at the VERY top of your HTML (above the tag). Then upload and go to one of the validator sites below and follow the instructions. It may take a little work finding the right validator for you, but keep trying, the results will be clean HTML!

Some popular validators are:

The W3C HTML Validation Service: http://validator.w3.org

Harold Driscoll's Suite of HTML Validators http://www.ccs.org/validate

Weblint: http://www.cre.canon.co.uk/~neilb/weblint

A Kinder, Gentler, Validator: http://ugweb.cs.ualberta.ca/~gerald/validate

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5.  What is a DOCTYPE?

A DOCTYPE statement (or DTD), located on the first line of an HTML document, designates the standard of HTML which you have chosen to use. HTML Validators require DTD statements. Without a DTD, they will usually fall back to a default DTD (many times HT ML 2.0), most times causing many errors.

Two common DTDs are:
For HTML 4.0 transitional: !DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"

For HTML 3.2 !DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 3.2 Final//EN"

There are many more DTD statements available for use. A more comprehensive listing can be found at http://ugweb.cs.ualberta.ca/~gerald/validate/lib/catalog

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6.  How can I make sure my Web pages are accessible to as many browsers as possible, including older browsers, non-graphical browsers and speech-based browsers for the vision-impaired?

The best way to make sure your pages display reasonably well in as many browsers and on as many platforms as possible is by validating them to make sure you are using valid html. Additionally, you might check your site in a variety of different browsers (and different versions of browsers) on different platforms.

BrowserCaps offers a wealth of information on how different browsers handle various types of html. Go to http://www.browsercaps.com

Also, take into account that many of the visitors to your site will be using a different size monitor or one that may be set to a different resolution. Use proportional widths for tables to allow the table to expand or contract its width according to the size of your visitor's screen.

Keep in mind, many people view with graphics turned off (or use text-only browsers), and there are even some people out there surfing the web with4 MG RAM, and a 9600 baud modem). Keep your graphics as small as possible, and be sure to use appropriate "ALT" tags, especially for navigational icons and imagemaps

To make sure your pages are accessible to people with disabilities, go see the disability validator Bobby at http://www.cast.org/bobby/

Feel free to use the latest "bells and whistles" to *enhance* your site, but learn how to implement them so that your pages will still be accessible without them. Offer a text-only version is necessary.

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7.  What special considerations do I need to consider with Web TV?

WebTV has a lower resolution than monitors and does not permit horizontal scrolling. See the WebTV design guide at http://webreference.com/dev/webtv for more information.

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8.  I keep hearing about character codes. What are they?

HTML reserves certain characters (&, ", <, and >) for the use of HTML. When the character codes are not used in place of the actual symbol, you will receive errors when validating, and unexpected results in some browsers.

Another list of character code entities can be found at: http://www.december.com/html/spec/codes.html

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9.  Other useful URLs

HTML Goodies from Joe Burns. The HUH? Tutorials. Forms, CGI, and a whole lot more: http://www.htmlgoodies.com

Sharkey's Netscape Frames Tutorial: http://www.newbie.net/sharky/frames/menu.html

Getting Started With Java, from Sun Microsystems: http://java.sun.com/starter.html

An extensive collection of links to various style guides: http://www.cre.canon.co.uk/~neilb/weblint/style.html

The Yale Style Manual http://info.med.yale.edu/caim/manual/contents.html

The Webmaster's Reference Library: http://www.webreference.com

A collection of information and tutorials on HTML, java, frames, CGI, forms, images, background images, tables and more: http://www.htmlgoodies.com

Good collection of reference information and links to other sources: http://www.htmlhelp.com

The Web Developer's Virtual Library has information and resources on many different aspects of web development: http://www.stars.com

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10.  What and where are the HWG Resources?

This document contains only a sampling of what can be found on-line. The HWG Resources is an on-line list of resources (usually supplied by parties not affiliated with the HWG) to help members find information about topics related to the various lists of the HWG.

The HWG Resources can be found at http://www.hwg.org/resources

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11.  How can I contribute to the HWG Resources?

E-mail the list guides. If you have a site, tool or resource that relates to a topic allowed on the list, send e-mail to lg-techniques@hwg.org with the URL and, optionally, a short description of the site or resource.

You can also send your resources directly to resources@hwg.org, which will be given to the resources team who handle updating the online resources.

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12.  HWG URLs

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13.  Where can I send comments and/or suggestions about this document?

We would appreciate any comments you have on this document as well as suggestions on how to improve the quality or any additions.

If you discover that any of the URLs listed above is no longer valid, please let us know at lg-techniques@hwg.org so that we can update our list.

Thank you for taking the time to read this document. We hope it helped you somehow. See you on the list!

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