HTML 101 Books
September 24, 2004 2:52 AM   Subscribe

I've been asked to recommend a teach yourself HTML book for one of our authors. As the person who has to make sense of their output, I'd prefer it if they leant clean, valid, semantic markup.

Any suggestions?
posted by monkey closet to Education (11 answers total)
Peachpit's Visual Quickstart Guide for HTML was very helpful for me, for basic stuff.
posted by amberglow at 4:46 AM on September 24, 2004

I agree with amberglow. I started with that book 5 years ago, and now I'm a web designer.
posted by emptybowl at 6:21 AM on September 24, 2004

If all they're doing is authoring content, you might consider using something like DocBook instead. With a decent XML editor, they focus on what it says, not how it looks, and it's hard to produce invalid documents. You can transform whatever they do into whatever kind(s) of HTML you want. Simplified DocBook "articles" are easy to deal with.

For beginning DocBook writers, I recommend the XMLmind XML Editor. It's free, cross-platform, and has a word processor-like editing mode.

XXE (like most XML editors) can also edit XHTML with validation. If they want to learn to write HTML, make it XHTML from the beginning so you can easily validate it and avoid older deprecated tags.

(Specifically, please don't tell them about <font>...)
posted by jmcmurry at 6:48 AM on September 24, 2004

There's a newer version of Elizabeth Castro's Peachpit book, and a new beginner's guide that you should check out.
posted by sageleaf at 7:13 AM on September 24, 2004

If all this person needs is a cursory familiarity and someone has an HTML for Dummies laying around, give him/her that and save a few bucks.

Later, if this writer actually does use html for anything and needs more, get one of the books recommended above. From my experience however, the latter event rarely occurs, so why waste the money?
posted by mischief at 7:26 AM on September 24, 2004

the peachpit book. jeffrey zeldman approves. amazon link here.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:09 AM on September 24, 2004

I'll third the Castro book. I just got it for my mom.
posted by dobbs at 10:23 AM on September 24, 2004

Also, if they are writing code that someone else has to read, use, and possibly edit, I would stress early on the importance of adding comments to code if they're trying to do something that is at all weird or non-intuitive. For things like stylesheets, just having a note that says "this is a hack to make this box work in IE5" can save a lot of head-scratching. I've found that in an environment where people might be changing your code, putting commenting in saying things like "no user servicable parts above this line" can also help. I add all my color hex codes in a place in the comments so that I have them all handy when I need to add a new item that is the same color. Heck I can't even remember if fff or 000 is black half the time, so this is helpful for me too.
posted by jessamyn at 11:00 AM on September 24, 2004

Quit with the HTML and use Docutils reST. From that, you can get HTML, plus you can render to LaTeX, PDF, whatever.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:07 AM on September 24, 2004

I fourth the Elizabeth Castro/Peachpit book. I still consult my well-loved first edition occasionally. As a bonus, some of the sample jpgs in the book were of places in the small town I lived in when I bought it.
posted by bendy at 11:20 AM on September 24, 2004

I re-assert: reStructured Text is what you want.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:43 PM on September 24, 2004

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