Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference


This book is an indispensable compendium for web content developers. It contains everything you need to create functional, cross-platform web applications, including a complete reference for all of the HTML tags, CSS style attributes, browser document objects, and core JavaScript objects supported by the various standards and the latest versions of Navigator and Internet Explorer. Browser compatibility is emphasized throughout. The reference pages clearly indicate browser support for every entity; handy ...
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This book is an indispensable compendium for web content developers. It contains everything you need to create functional, cross-platform web applications, including a complete reference for all of the HTML tags, CSS style attributes, browser document objects, and core JavaScript objects supported by the various standards and the latest versions of Navigator and Internet Explorer. Browser compatibility is emphasized throughout. The reference pages clearly indicate browser support for every entity; handy cross-reference indexes make it easy to find interrelated HTML tags, style attributes, and document objects; and an advanced introduction to creating dynamic web content addresses the cross-platform compromises inherent in web page design today.

Designed for content providers and programmers, this comprehensive guide, reference and compendium explores Web cross-platform development. This 1000-page definitive resource requires familiarity with HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), the Document Object Model (DOM) and JavaScript. This is not a tutorial for novice developers.

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
When it comes to building web sites with Dynamic HTML, much of the information that’s out there is incomplete, inconsistent, out of date, or simply wrong. But DHTML is so valuable that web developers are forging ahead anyway. One of them, Danny Goodman, has gone out and tested literally thousands of unique instances of object properties, methods, event handlers, and attributes in IE, Navigator, and Mozilla. The result is Dynamic HTML, The Definitive Reference, Second Edition -- and it’s indispensable.

Goodman has updated this book for both the latest browsers and the latest specs, including HTML 4.01, CSS Level 2, DOM Level 2, and JavaScript 1.5. He’s brought his legendary doggedness to illuminating the new W3C DOM object models; to scouring Mozilla 1.0 source code and bug reports; and to accurately documenting the proprietary goodies in the latest versions of IE (6.0/Windows and 5.x Mac).

In addition to comprehensive reference material, Goodman presents a seven-chapter introduction walking through the effective use of CSS, element positioning, dynamic content, and scripting events. You’ll especially appreciate his overview of cross-platform strategies and compromises, and his chapter on standardization trends. Things are slowly getting better, but you’ll still wear this book out. Bill Camarda

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780596527402
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/2007
  • Edition description: Third Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 1328
  • Sales rank: 552,578
  • Product dimensions: 6.83 (w) x 9.55 (h) x 2.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Danny Goodman has been an active participant on the editorial side of the personal computer and consumer electronics revolutions since the late 1970s. His articles in the field have appeared in some of the most prestigious general audience publications and he has written dozens of feature articles for leading computer publications, such as PC Magazine, PC World, Macworld, and MacUser. He is currently a monthly columnist for Netscape Communication's online developer newsletter, View Source.

Danny is also the author of more than two dozen books on computing and information superhighway technologies. The Complete HyperCard Handbook, published by Bantam Books in August 1987, claimed honors as the bestselling Macintosh book and fastest selling computer book in the history of the industry. That book is now in its fourth edition and has been translated into more than a half-dozen languages. His HyperCard Handbook and HyperCard Developer's Guide have both received Best Product-Specific Book awards from the Computer Press Association (1987 and 1988, respectively). Danny Goodman's Macintosh Handbook (1993), a radical departure from traditional computer books, won Danny's third CPA award.

To keep up to date on the needs of World Wide Web developers for his recent books and Netscape articles, Danny is also a programming and design consultant to some of the industry's top intranet application development groups.

Danny, 47, was born in Chicago, Illinois. He earned a B.A. and M.A. in classical antiquity from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He moved to California in 1983 and now lives in a small San Francisco area coastal community,where he alternates views between computer screens and the Pacific Ocean.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2: Cross-Platform Compromises

In this chapter:
  • What Is a Platform?
  • Navigator 4 DHTML
  • Internet Explorer 4 DHTML
  • Cross-Platform Strategies
  • Cross-Platform Expectations
Declaring support for industry standards is a noble act. But when each web browser maker is also out to put its stamp on the details of still-evolving standards, it's easy to see how a new browser release can embody ideas and extensions to standards that are not available in other browsers. With so many standards efforts related to Dynamic HTML in play at the release of both Netscape Navigator 4 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 4, implementation differences were bound to occur. This chapter provides an overview of each browser's approach to DHTML. It also explores some strategies that you might use for DHTML applications that must run identically on Navigator and Internet Explorer.

What Is a Platform?

The term platform has multiple meanings in web application circles, depending on how you slice the computing world. Typically, a platform denotes any hardware and/or software system that forms the basis for further product development. Operating system developers regard each microprocessor family as a platform (Pentium, PowerPC, or SPARC CPUs, for example); desktop computer application developers treat the operating system as the platform (Win16, Windows 95/NT, MacOS8, Unix, Linux, and the rest); peripherals makers perceive a combination of hardware and operating system as the platform (for example, a Wintel machine or a Macintosh).

The de facto acceptance of the web protocols, such as HTTP, means that a web application developer doesn't have to worry about the underlying network transport protocols that are being used. Theoretically, all client computers equipped with browsers that support the web protocols-regardless of the operating system or CPU-should be treated as a single platform. The real world, however, doesn't work that way.

Today's crop of web browsers are far more than data readers. Each one includes a highly customized content rendering engine, a scripting language interpreter, a link to a custom Java virtual machine, security access mechanisms, and connections to related software modules. The instant you decide to author content that will be displayed in a web browser, you must concern yourself with the capabilities built into each browser. Despite a certain level of interoperability due to industry-wide standards, you must treat each major browser brand as a distinct development platform. Writing content to the scripting API or HTML tags known to be supported by one browser does not guarantee support in the other browser.

If you are creating content, you must also be aware of differences in the way each browser has been tailored to each operating system. For example, even though the HTML code for embedding a clickable button inside a form is the same for both Navigator and Internet Explorer, the look of that button is vastly different when rendered in Windows, Macintosh, and Unix versions of either browser. That's because the browser makers have appropriately observed the traditions of the user interface look and feel for each operating system. Thus, a form whose elements are neatly laid out to fit inside a window or frame of a fixed size in Windows may be aligned in a completely unacceptable way when displayed in the same browser on a Macintosh or a Unix system.

Even though much of the discussion in this book uses "cross-platform" to mean compatible with both Netscape and Microsoft browsers ("cross-browser" some might call it), you must also be mindful of operating-system-specific details. Even the precise positioning capabilities of "cross-platform" cascading style sheets do not eliminate the operating-system-specific vagaries of form elements and font rendering. If you are developing DHTML applications, you can eliminate pre-version 4 browsers from your testing matrix, but there are still a number of browser and operating system combinations that you need to test.

Navigator 4 DHTML

As early as Navigator 2, JavaScript offered the possibility of altering the content being delivered to a browser as a page loaded. It was Navigator 3, however, that showed the first glimpse of what Dynamic HTML could be. This browser implemented the IMG HTML element as a document object whose SRC attribute could be changed on the fly to load an entirely different image file into the space reserved by the <IMG> tag. In DHTML parlance, this is known as a replaced element because it is rendered as an inline element (capable of flowing in the middle of a text line), yet its content can be replaced afterward. The most common application of this replacement feature is the mouse rollover, in which an image is replaced by a highlighted version of that image whenever the user positions the cursor atop the image. If you surround the <IMG> tag with a link (<A>) tag, you can use the link's mouse event handlers to set the image object's source file when the cursor rolls atop the image and when it rolls away from the image:

 <A HREF="someURL.html" <IMG NAME="logo" SRC="images/logoNORMAL.jpg" HEIGHT=40 WIDTH=80> </A>
At the time, this capability was a breakthrough that allowed dynamic content without the delay of loading a Java applet or rich media for a plug-in. Navigator 3 even allowed JavaScript to pre-cache all images on a page during the initial page download, so that the first image transition was instantaneous.

A glaring limitation of this scheme, however, hindered some designs. The size of the image area was fixed by the IMG element's HEIGHT and WIDTH attributes when the page loaded. All other images assigned to that object had to be the same size or risk being scaled to fit. While rarely a problem for mouse rollovers, the lack of size flexibility got in the way of more grandiose plans.

While the replaceable image object is still a part of Navigator 4, if for no other reason than backward compatibility, this version of the browser has added even more dynamic capabilities.

Cascading Style Sheets Level 1

Navigator 4 includes support for the majority of the CSS1 recommendation (see Chapter 1, The State of the Art). The unsupported features in Navigator 4 are detailed in Chapter 3, Adding Style Sheets to Documents. CSS1 style sheets are not as dynamic in Navigator 4 as you might wish, however. Styles and properties of content already loaded in the browser cannot be changed. To do something like flash the color of a block of text, you must create the content for each color as a separate positioned element that can be hidden and shown with the help of a script.

JavaScript Style Sheet Syntax

To further support the use of JavaScript in Navigator 4, Netscape has devised an alternate syntax for setting style attributes that uses JavaScript. The "dot" syntax for specifying styles follows the syntax of the core JavaScript language, rather than the CSS1 attribute:value syntax. The TYPE attribute of the <STYLE> tag lets you define the style sheet syntax you are using for a definition. For example, the following samples set the left margin for all <H1> elements in a document to 20 pixels, using CSS1 and JavaScript syntax, respectively:

 <STYLE TYPE="text/css"> H1 {marginLeft:20px} </STYLE> <STYLE TYPE="text/javascript"> tags.H1.marginLeft=20 </STYLE> . . .
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Table of Contents

has been writing about personal computers and consumer electronics since the late 1970s. In 2001, he celebrated 20 years as a free lance writer and programmer, having published hundreds of magazine articles, several commercial software products, and three dozen computer books. Through the years, his most popular book titles on HyperCard, AppleScript, JavaScript, and Dynamic HTML have covered programming environments that are both accessible to non-professionals yet powerful enough to engage experts. His JavaScript Bible book is now in its fourth edition. To keep up to date on the needs of web developers for his recent books, Danny is also a programming consultant to some of the industry's top intranet development groups and corporations. His expertise in implementing sensible cross-browser client-side scripting solutions is in high demand and allows him to, in his words, "get code under my fingernails while solving real-world problems." Danny was born in Chicago, Illinois during the Truman Administration. He earned a B.A. and M.A. in Classical Antiquity from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He moved to California in 1983 and lives in a small San Francisco area coastal community, where he alternates views between computer screens and the Pacific Ocean.

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2007

    This book keeps getting better and better

    Each iteration of this book gets better and better. This third edition has been expanded with an amazing CSS reference, updates for AJAX, and now includes information on IE, Netscape, Mozilla (e.g. Firefox), Safari, Opera, and the HTML DOM. By far, this is the most comprehensive version of this book to date. One of the biggest gripes I had with previous editions of this book was that it felt very IE-centric. In prior editions, the Mac was completely ignored as was Opera and pretty much anything other than IE and Netscape. This has all changed in this latest update. If you have never seen a copy of this book before, it is divided into 9 sections: a standard HTML reference, an alphabetical HMTL reference, standard and alphabetical DOM references, a Javascript language and event reference, an outstanding CSS reference, and appendices. The book is designed in such a way so as to be easy to quickly find material on the HTML tag, CSS attribute, or Javascript method desired. Of particular note in this edition is the update for AJAX. In the Javascript section, the reader will now find nearly 50 extra pages dedicated simply to handling and processing XML in Javascript. Hands down, this was¿and still is¿the absolute best dynamic HTML reference available today. While each edition gets better and better, I think this edition in particular is a real standout. The expansion of the CSS reference section, the addition of documentation related to AJAX, and the expansion of the reference sections to cover Mozilla, Safari, and Opera make this book a must buy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2007

    Great reference -- with a few usability issues

    § As other reviewers have pointed out, the introductory chapters have been updated and removed from the book and made available online. These chapters are a very valuable resource on their own because they deal with the hot issues and techniques that concern those of us working in the current Web world. **One important warning** This book is so huge, it has 4 indexes in addition to the conventional one in the back of the book. In fact, under most circumstances, the method or property you seek will not be in the conventional index. It will most likely be in the separate DOM indexes in the Cross References section of the book. This means your search for a term may be less convenient than you are used to but be assured -- when you do finally find the material, it will be the best and most authoritative there is. I have been using editions of this book every day for years. It is a unique resource. §

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2001

    Title Says It Best

    This book truly is the definitve reference to DHTML. It certainly is not a 'beginner's book,' but still offers all kinds of useful information about DHTML and how it relates to HTML, CC, DOM, and JavaScript. While now a bit dated, it still offers tips on browser compatibility problems, along with using DHTML, adding scripting events to a page and a few other related topics. The book's Reference section is huge, with virtually every HTML, DOM, Style Sheet and JavaScript attribute described, along with lots of reference information about each one. Any web developer should have this book on their shelf.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2001

    Great reference, but slightly outdated

    I find this book to be an invaluable reference and I challenge anyone to find a more comprehensive guide to aspects of DHTML. My only problem with this reference is that it is becoming a bit dated. Having been in 1998, browser technology has vastly improved and so has the way web designers can program for dynamic content. That being said, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2001

    I teach from it, and I use it!

    This book was specified for an advanced web design class I teach at the community college level. Before my copy ever made it into the classroom, it was already showing signs of wear and tear. I've been teaching 15 years... I've never had a book that I've also USED outside of class. An excellent reference.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2000

    Best DHTML book I have seen.

    The examples are great and its one of the best refrence books I own.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2000

    Best overall guide to DHTML

    This book has everything: HTML, Javascript, DOM, and CSS reference in addition to the in depth look at how to utilize all of these elements to make web sites dynamic. There are excellent code examples, and browser compatibility issues are clearly presented. O'Reilly has done it again!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 1999

    One of the best

    This book may be short on examples to cut and paste, but it is the best reference to tags, Style sheets, and DOM Objects I've seen. It tells you what the objects do, and in what version and brand of browser it was supported.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2010

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