HTML and CSS Reference
Q: Why am I using a simple text editor?
Aren't there powerful tools like Dreamweaver
and Expression Web for creating web pages?
A: You're reading this topic because you want
to understand the true technologies used for web
pages, right? Now those are all great tools, but
they do a lot of the work for you, and until you
are a master of HTML and CSS, you want to learn
this stuff without a big tool getting in your way.
A: The simple answer: use whatever browser
you like. HTML and CSS are industry standards,
which means that all browsers try to support
HTML and CSS in the same way (just make sure
you are using the newest version of the browser
for the best support).
The complex answer: in reality there are slight
differences in the way browsers handle your
pages. If you've got users who will be accessing
your pages in a variety of browsers, then always
test your web page in several different browsers.
Some pages will look exactly the same; some
won't. The more advanced you become
with HTML and CSS, the more these slight
differences may matter to you, and we'll get into
some of these subtleties throughout the topic.
Once you're a master, however, these tools do
provide some nice features like syntax checking
and previews. At that point, when you view the
“code” window, you'll understand everything in it,
and you'll find that changes to the raw HTML and
CSS are often a lot faster than going through a
user interface. You'll also find that as standards
change, these tools aren't always updated right
away and may not support the most recent
standards until their next release cycle. Since
you'll know how to change the HTML and CSS
without the tool, you'll be able to keep up with the
latest and greatest all the time.
Any of the major browsers — Internet Explorer,
Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari — will work
for most examples (except where noted); they
are all modern browsers with great HTML and
CSS support. And as a web developer, you'll
be expected to test your code in more than one
browser, so we encourage you to download and
get familiar with at least two!
Q: I'm creating these files on my own
computer — how am I going to view these on
A: That's one great thing about HTML: you
can create files and test them on your own
computer and then later publish them on the
Web. Right now, we're going to worry about how
to create the files and what goes in them. We'll
come back to getting them on the Web a bit later.
There are many more fully featured editors that
include great features like clips (for automatically
inserting bits of HTML you write often), preview
(for previewing directly in the editor before you
test in the browser), syntax coloring (so tags are
a different color from content), and much more.
Once you get the hang of writing basic HTML and
CSS in a simple editor, it may be worth checking
out one of the fancier editors, such as Coda,
TextMate, CoffeeCup, or Aptana Studio. There
are many out there to choose from (both free and
Q: I get the editor, but what browser am I
supposed to be using? There are so many—
Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera,
Safari—what's the deal?