First web design workshop:
Introduction to (X)HTML

3:005:00, 20 November 2014
South Hall 2635

Patrick Mooney, Co-Lead TA, Department of English
Office Hours this fall (for TAs): Tu 3:30-4:30 (& by appt), in or near Nicoletti's, in the UCen.
Voicemail: (805) 272-0069

This workshop introduces HTML, the markup language used on web pages to indicate the structure of your documents. HTML documents are simply plain-text documents marked up with "tags" to indicate the document's structure. There is a small set of tags (several dozen) that are recognized by HTML parsers (such as web browsers), which you can learn quickly, and which serve the purpose of indicating your document's structure to those parsers. (There are useful HTML references all over the Internet; some are listed here.) HTML code is not (usually) displayed directly to users, but is rendered (interpreted) by the user's web browser. One of our major concerns in this first workshop will be the syntactical rules of HTML, which are not complex, but which should be followed to ensure that the document is understood properly by software that processes the HTML (and, therefore, is rendered correctly by the user's browser). This workshop also consists of a short explanation of other relevant background concepts.

There are many varieties of HTML, all of which are mutually intelligible to a person who can read any one version — even more substantially, they're all about equally intelligible to web browsers. The version of HTML that I'm teaching in this series of workshops is XHTML Strict 1.0, a version of HTML that is also valid XML (which allows for it to be processed by XML-aware tools in addition to web browsers, which may be useful to those who are interested in writing documents that can be read by other types of software in addition to web browsers). My primary reasons for selecting XHTML 1.0 Strict as the dialect of choice for this workshop series are:

One of my larger-scale arguments about web design throughout this workshop series is that your HTML markup should indicate your document's structure, rather than merely being presentational (people who have attended the workshops have heard me say repeatedly that HTML is not a word processor). Though this argument will not be developed at length until the second and third workshops, it is worth saying at this point that semantic, rather than presentational, markup is definitely a good design practice in most circumstances of the types with which we will be concerned in this workshop series.

Our overall goal for this workshop series will be preparing you to design a small website for your course or section that provides useful information for your students. An important secondary goal in creating this website will be making your teaching practices more visible to others on the web.

Watch the presentation online

Software we're using

If possible, you should install Firefox and a good plain-text editor (I use and recommend Bluefish) before you come to the workshops … but don't let installation woes or lack of time keep you from attending! More detailed software information can be found here.

Recommended background reading

None for this workshop, but feel free to peruse the links below, if you'd like.

Useful links for this workshop

Available here, and divided into these categories: