W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > February 1996

Re: Really Quick Guide to Good HTML -Reply

From: Charles Peyton Taylor <CTaylor@wposmtp.nps.navy.mil>
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 1996 18:45:11 -0800
Message-Id: <s12b684b.089@wposmtp.nps.navy.mil>
To: www-html@w3.org
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>"lilley@afs.mcc.ac.uk" wrote
> A couple of initial comments:
> 1) Excellent idea. HTML in 10 minutes. Makes those books in the store 
> "HTML in a week" seem a little, well, padded?

Well, for just basic HTML you don't really need a 
lot of instruction.  My attempt was to get a 
"quick but very clean" (as opposed to quick 'n 
dirty) quide that just went over the basics.
I was seeing some bad HTML here at NPS (a lot of
people were simply copying what others had done
without knowing what they were doing), and I 
wanted to provide a tutorial that would not 
provide the excuse of having "not enought time
to read".

I tried to be as accurate as possible, within a
limited framework.  (I probably should have stated 
that in the earlier e-mail.)

> 2) "HTML ... is really just ASCII text with extra codes
> In the context of your ten-minute guide I suggest replacing "ASCII text" 
> with "plain text".

The problem with this is that I would have to explain 
exactly what I mean by "plain text."   Also, I dont' know 
if all word processors in use here save what they label 
as "plain text"  as a ISO-8859 file type; they might save 
it in their own format.  (I can see a non-computer-literate 
person thinking that a WordPerfect text file without graphics 
is plain text.)  I do know that most word processors will 
save text as ASCII, and have the option labeled as such.
< 2 snipped 'cause I'm probably going to take the advice  > 

> 3) You confuse tags and elements. It is probably useful to explain what 
> they are. HTML is made up of elements. An element can consist of either a
> single tag, like this:
> <hr>
> or a paired start tag and end tag with some stuff in the middle.
> <h1>An important heading</h1>
> The stuff in the middle can itself contain nested elements.

Okay, this brings up another question: if I have 
<p> some text </p>, is the "some text" part considered 
part of the element, or is the paragraph element simply 
the tags (like bookends aren't books?)

If the text is part of the element, then that really 
changes the way I would write this (and the way I think 
about it), since the tags would seem separate the elements, 
as opposed to actually being the elements.

<snipped for brevity>

> 5) standard wrapper:
> html can be missed out in all html 2.0 documents.  Your first sentence is
> not strictly true, and "this can vary" just introduces uncertainty.
> I suggest you just say that the entire html document is a single element 
> and the start and end tags are <html> </html>, and leave it at that. Save
> your energy for getting them to insert <head> and </head> which is much 
> more important - and will become increasingly important with later
> revisions of HTML.
> I suggest that you introduce these by saying that the head element
> contains information about the document, which is not displayed as part
> of the  document, wheras the body contains the document itself.

I'm probably going to re-write that part.  I 
used the term "wrapper" because it was used in 
a few web editors I had used.  I've since 
noticed that it really isn't used elsewhere.


> The main thing is to ensure they understand paragraphs are elements,
> rather  than believing that paragraph tags introduce line breaks (which
> your text  does sort of imply) and to avoid the idea that <p> separates
> paragraphs,  rather than starting them.

With the audience I'm writing for, I cannot totally 
ignore presentation.  Also, in written documents, 
how can you tell one paragraph from another without 
line breaks?

<7 snipped>

> 8) URL
> this is used way before being defined. People who are going to write 
> HTML are probablt used to URLs from browsing, heck even from adverts.  I

HEh!  No, my audience needs to learn URL's :)  They 
probably will not notice them, otherwise.  Also, I think 
the default behavior of Netscape (which, since we're an 
educational institution is free here) is to not show the

> suggest you put the descripotion of URLs into a "sidebar" - another 
> document. This stops it interrupting the flow of text and means people 
> can read that descriptionor not, as they need to.

Putting it in another document would mean it couldn't be
printed from one file.  Some people print this stuff out.


> In general your 10 minute guide is great and just what is needed. I would
>  certainly recommend it over the NCSA beginners guide, which is well past
>  it's sell-by date. I hope you find my comments and suggestions helpful.

I certainly did, and I'd like to thank you and the others who
gave their comments.  A lot of the stuff I snipped out of this
message is going into the guide.
Received on Wednesday, 21 February 1996 21:41:33 UTC

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