Web Design in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference

Web Design in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference

by Jennifer Niederst
     
 

Web Design in a Nutshell contains the nitty-gritty on everything you need toknow to design Web pages. It's the good stuff, without the fluff, written andorganized so that answers can be found quickly. Written by veteran Web designerJennifer Niederst, this book provides quick access to the wide range of front-endtechnologies and techniques from which Web

Overview

Web Design in a Nutshell contains the nitty-gritty on everything you need toknow to design Web pages. It's the good stuff, without the fluff, written andorganized so that answers can be found quickly. Written by veteran Web designerJennifer Niederst, this book provides quick access to the wide range of front-endtechnologies and techniques from which Web designers and authors must draw.

It is an excellent reference for HTML 4.0 tags (including tables, frames, andCascading Style Sheets) with special attention given to browser support and platformidiosyncrasies. The HTML section is more than a reference work, though. It detailsstrange behavior in tables, for instance, and gives ideas and workarounds for usingtables and frames on your site. Web Design in a Nutshell also coversmultimedia and interactivity, audio and video, and emerging technologies like DynamicHTML, XML, embedded fonts, and internationalization.

The book includes:

  • Discussions of the Web environment, monitors, and browsers
  • A complete reference to HTML and Server Side Includes, including browsersupport for every tag and attribute
  • Chapters on creating GIF, JPEG and PNG graphics, including designing with theWeb Palette
  • Information on multimedia and interactivity, including audio, video, Flash,Shockwave, and JavaScript
  • Detailed tutorial and reference on Cascading Style Sheets, including anappendix of browser compatibility information
  • Appendices detailing HTML tags, attributes, deprecated tags, proprietary tags,and CSS compatibility

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
The Barnes & Noble Review
In 1999, we reviewed the first edition of Web Design in a Nutshell, finding it an extraordinary breath of fresh air: full of common sense, hard facts, intelligent rules of thumb, and scrupulously fair guidance for web designers at all levels of experience. Jennifer Niederst has thoroughly updated her bestseller to reflect pretty much all the latest trends and realities of Web development.

In both editions, we've loved the perspective Niederst brings to web design. Hey, she's been doing this since 1993, before most folks had ever heard of the Web. She doesn't get carried away with the latest hype: she's more interested in helping you do what works. Having seen it all, she's able to write intelligently about virtually every web design technology -- and where space doesn't permit sufficient coverage, she offers updated web references for finding out more.

The book starts with a cogent overview of the challenges the Web presents to designers, including how to design for a variety of browsers, monitors, and output devices; and how to cope with color on the web. Along the way, she calls special attention to key issues new web designers always forget, and experienced designers occasionally need to be reminded about. (For example, what should almost always go "above the fold" on your site's first page?)

While Niederst targets her books at designers, not programmers, she clearly recognizes that designers must increasingly accommodate some pretty heavy-duty technologies. She introduces enough of the fundamentals of Web development to help designers participate intelligently in enterprise Web development teams. Also included: a "beginner's guide to the server," showing how web server directory structures are typically organized; how FTP works; and what MIME types are (complete with a detailed table of the most common, from .AI to .ZIP).

Web Design in a Nutshell includes a detailed section on HTML, fully updated to reflect the HTML 4.01 specification and the latest browsers: Internet Explorer 6 (which ships with Microsoft Windows XP), and Netscape 6.x (which, in its 6.1 incarnation, may finally be gaining a bit of traction in the marketplace). In connection with the update to HTML 4.01, Niederst has recast many of her examples using Cascading Style Sheets. (Hey, if you're still not using them, it may finally be safe to jump aboard.)

Niederst's HTML coverage encompasses everything from WYSIWYG tools to good HTML style, and brings together all that information it's hard to get your hands on (decimal to hexadecimal equivalents for specifying RGB color values, character entity codes for (c), and the like). There's also a detailed chapter on hyperlinking (including targeting windows, non-web links and protocols, and linking documents with .)

Even HTML 4.01, of course, is getting long in the tooth. Niederst presents concise, gentle introductions to both XML and XHTML, giving designers a heads-up on where these technologies are headed. There's even new coverage of WAP and the unique issues associated with designing wireless applications.

The Second Edition adds a new chapter on ensuring accessibility for individuals with hearing, sight, and other physical impairments. The highlights include fourteen practical guidelines from the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative (for instance, "provide context and orientation information" -- make sure you clearly label all frames, sections, and page structures that would require extra explanation for those who can't see them). Niederst also points you to www.cast.org/bobby/, where there's a validator that'll scan your page and point out accessibility issues.

Speaking of accessibility challenges, there's also a new chapter on Macromedia Flash and Shockwave -- part of a complete section on Web multimedia and interactivity. Along the way, Niederst covers animated GIFs, streaming and non-streaming audio (including optimizing audio clips); digital video formats, QuickTime, and more.

Detailed appendices present HTML tags and elements, attributes, deprecated and proprietary tags, CSS compatibility information, and more. Hard as it is to believe, Web Design in a Nutshell, Second Edition delivers even more useful information than the first go-round. Quite impressive. (Bill Camarda)

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. He served for nearly ten years as vice president of a New Jersey–based marketing company, where he supervised a wide range of graphics and web design projects. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.

Library Journal
Niederst discusses everything a web designer needs, from basic principles and HTML to designing for multiple browsers, cascading style sheets, and XML. For a working web designer this book will be an invaluable quick reference, and it is written well enough that someone just starting out on the web could also use it. Highly recommended for all libraries.
Booknews
Includes discussions of the Web environment, monitors, and browsers; a complete reference to HTML and Server Side Includes, containing browser support for every tag and attribute; chapters on creating GIF, JPEG, and PNG graphics, and designing with the Web Palette; information on multimedia and interactivity, including audio, video, Flash, Shockwave, and JavaScript; a tutorial and reference on Cascading Style Sheets; and appendices on detailing HTML tags, attributes, deprecated and proprietary tags, and CSS compatibility. This is not a source for programming, scripting, or server functions, but is geared to all levels of expertise, including the lack thereof. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565925151
Publisher:
O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
Publication date:
11/08/1998
Edition description:
Older Edition
Pages:
578
Product dimensions:
5.99(w) x 8.92(h) x 1.14(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 13: Tables

HTML tags for creating tables were originally developed for presenting rows and columns of tabular data, but designers quickly co-opted them as a valuable tool for controlling the layout of web pages. Tables allow you to create columns of text, hold white space between elements, and restrict the dimensions of the page's content in ways other HTML formatting tags can't.

The HTML 4.01 specification on tables is a great deal more complex than the previous 3.2 standard. It makes an effort to bring context and structure to table data as well as to provide systems for incremental display during download and display on nonvisual display agents (such as speech- and Braille-based browsers). To read what the HTML 4.01 specification has to say about tables, see the W3C's site at http://www.w3c.org/TR/html4/struct/tables.html.

Summary of Table Tags

In this section, browser support for each tag is noted to the right of the tag name. Browsers that do not support the tag are grayed out. Tag usage is indicated below the tag name. Start and end tags are required unless otherwise noted. "Deprecated" means that the tag or attribute is currently supported but is due to be phased out of the HTML specification and is discouraged from use (usually in favor of similar style sheet controls). The attributes listed for each tag reflect those in common use. A more thorough listing of attributes for each tag, according to the HTML 4.01 specification, appears in Appendix A.

<caption>

NN 2, 3, 4, 6 MSIE 2, 3, 4, 5, 5.5, 6 HTML 4.01 WebTV Opera5

<caption>...</caption>

Provides a brief summary of the table's contents or purpose. The caption must immediately follow the <table> tag and precede all other tags. The width of the caption is determined by the width of the table. The caption's position as displayed in the browser can be controlled with the align attribute (or valign in MSIE).

Attributes
align=top|bottom|left|right
Deprecated. Positions the caption relative to the table. The default is top .

valign=top|bottom
Internet Explorer 3.0 and higher only. Positions the caption above or below the table ( top is the default).


<col>

NN 2, 3, 4, 6 MSIE 2, 3, 4, 5, 5.5, 6 HTML 4.01 WebTV Opera5

<col> (no end tag)

Specifies properties for a column (or group of columns) within a column group ( <colgroup> ). Columns can share attributes (such as text alignment) without being part of a formal structural grouping.

Column groups and columns were introduced by Internet Explorer 3.0 and are now proposed by the HTML 4.01 specification as a standard way to label table structure. They may also be useful in speeding table display (i.e., the columns can be displayed incrementally without waiting for the entire contents of the table).

Attributes
align=left|right|center|justify|char
Deprecated. Specifies alignment of text in the cells of a column. The default value is left .

char= character
Specifies a character along which the cell contents will be aligned when align is set to char . The default character is a decimal point (language-appropriate). This attribute is generally not supported by current browsers.

charoff= length
Specifies the offset distance to the first alignment character ( char ) on each line. If a line doesn't use an alignment character, it should be horizontally shifted to end at the alignment position. This attribute is generally not supported by current browsers.

span= number
Specifies the number of columns "spanned" by the <col> element. The default value is 1. All columns indicated in the span are formatted according to the attribute settings in <col> .

valign=top|middle|bottom|baseline
Deprecated. Specifies the vertical alignment of text in the cells of a column.

width= pixels, percentage, n *
Specifies the width of each column spanned by the <col> element. Width can be measured in pixels or percentages, or defined as a relative size ( * ). For example, 2* sets the column two times wider than the other columns; 0* sets the column width at the minimum necessary to hold the column's contents. width in the <col> tag overrides the width settings of the containing <colgroup> element.


<colgroup>

NN 2, 3, 4, 6 MSIE 2, 3, 4, 5, 5.5, 6 HTML 4.01 WebTV Opera5

<colgroup>...</colgroup> (end tag optional)

Creates a column group, a structural division within a table that can be appointed attributes with style sheets or HTML. A table may include more than one column group. The number of columns in a group is specified either by the value of the span attribute or by a tally of columns <col> within the group. Its end tag is optional.

Column groups and columns were introduced by Internet Explorer 3.0 and are now proposed by the HTML 4.0 specification as a standard way to label table structure. They may also be useful in speeding the table display (i.e., the columns can be displayed incrementally without waiting for the entire contents of the table).

Attributes
align=left|right|center|justify|char
Deprecated. Specifies the alignment of text in the cells of a column group. The default value is left .

char= character
Specifies a character along which the cell contents will be aligned when align is set to char . The default character is a decimal point (language-appropriate). This attribute is generally not supported by current browsers.

charoff= length
Specifies the distance to the first alignment character ( char ) on each line. If a line doesn't use an alignment character, it should be horizontally shifted to end at the alignment position. This attribute is generally not supported by current browsers.

span= number
Specifies the number of columns in a column group. If span is not specified, the default is 1.

valign=top|middle|bottom|baseline
Deprecated. Specifies the vertical alignment of text in the cells of a column group. The default is middle .

width= pixels, percentage, n *
Specifies a default width for each column in the current column group. Width can be measured in pixels, percentages, or defined as a relative size ( * ). 0* sets the column width at the minimum necessary to hold the column's contents.


<table>

NN 2, 3, 4, 6 MSIE 2, 3, 4, 5, 5.5, 6 HTML 4.01 WebTV Opera5

<table>...</table>

Defines the beginning and end of a table. The end tag is required, and its omission may cause the table not to render in some browsers....

Meet the Author

Jennifer Niederst was one of the first Web designers. As the designer of O'Reilly's Global Network Navigator (GNN), the first commercial Web site, she has been designing for the Web since 1993. Since then, she has been working almost exclusively on the Web, first as creative director of Songline Studios (a subsidiary of O'Reilly) where she designed the original interface for WebReview (webreview.com), and as a freelance designer and consultant since 1996. She is the author of Designing for the Web (O'Reilly, 1996), and has taught Web design at the Massachusetts College of Art and the Interactive Factory in Boston, MA. She has spoken at major design and Internet events including the GRAFILL conference (Geilo, Norway), Seybold Seminars, and the W3C International Expo. You can visit her site at http://www.littlechair.com/ or send her email jen@oreilly.com.

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