Bill delivers a press conference at 5yrs old. (5k) Bill's Introduction

Can Programming Be Creative?
Conventional wisdom says that programming is technical, and graphics is creative. That's the sort of thinking that got us into this mess. If more programmers (and project managers) understood that programming is first a creative act (not unlike painting or music), we would have more innovative software and less "me too" bloatware screaming at us to believe that, contrary to appearance, it's actually innovative.

It's worth repeating: Programming is first a creative act.

Technology is "The knowledge and means used to produce the material necessities of a society" (Websters, 1981). Programming is much more than that--it's a tool of expression, a set of skills with which you can create the reality of a vision. It is an art that will not be recognized as such until our children are grown because our contemporaries don't understand it. That makes it a technology in their eyes.

I've spent most of my life in the creative application of new technologies. I'm a fundamentally creative person, who just happens to love playing with new technology. I started out life as a musician, playing guitar, keyboards, and drums in rock-and-roll bands. On the side, I built custom synthesizers and designed sound reinforcement systems. I never drew that much of a distinction between all of those activities because I see them all as creative pursuits.

When the web came along, I saw a new way to explore the creative application of emerging technology. With transistors getting smaller and faster, processor speed being measured in hundreds of MEGAFLOPS (Millions of Floating Point Operations Per Second), memory prices falling and high-end graphics display hardware following suit, the web couldn't have happened at a better time. Now we can start really having fun!

In bringing together the visual arts with the programmatic arts, the web has also brought me together with my long-lost sister. Lynda didn't mention the part where she spent 18 years in the Himalayas spinning yak wool with the Swami Bawgdhagda Dhogdhoo. But upon her return, with the web exploding like Krakatau on a bad hair day, it became necessary for her to finally look up her propeller-head brother. Isn't life strange?

Us programmers are so terribly misunderstood.

Bill's Goals
Computers are obstinate about precision. Miss a period here or a semicolon there, and you'll get pistachios instead of caviar every time. That's why it's important to know how a language works before you try to write something in it.

Before we wrote this book, I had not yet seen a thorough and accurate book on HTML and its associated disciplines. There were some good books on graphics, but their HTML was weak; there were some technically accurate books on HTML, but they weren't really complete, or they just didn't teach the subject well. So when Lynda and I realized that we each wanted to write the same book, we both got really excited about combining our disparate skills and perspectives to create a uniquely useful book about HTML and how to build a web site.

Building a web site is more than just HTML. If you want to learn how to use tables to stitch irregular parts of a graphic together, you need to also learn how to make the graphic; or, if you want to learn how to use JavaScript to make rollover controls, it's good to also know how to make rollover graphics that invite the user to engage them.

My sister Lynda is the undisputed master of on-line graphics, and she has added generous tips, tricks, and insights where necessary to help you accomplish your ultimate goal: a web site that says what you want it to sayˇwith compelling graphics and flawless HTML.

In the process of writing this book, I have learned what a wonderful teacher my sister is. She has a knack for teaching like Mozart had a knack for a catchy tune (I donÝt hear too many people whistling Mahler on their way to work). Combined with my propensity for bits and bytes, I hope we have created a book that will inspire you as much as it educates you.

In short, I want to see some more innovation. Make something new, and send me the URL.

--Bill