Can HTML be Creative?
One of the coolest things to happen to me in 1993 was my discovery of the web. One of the uncoolest things was the simultaneous discovery that I had to learn HTML in order to create web content. I was the product of the GUI generation (raised and bred on the Graphical User Interface), and in no way associated myself with programming languages or command line interfaces.
I'd always heard programming was a creative act, though as a visual-type person, I was highly suspicious of people who claimed this. I knew I kept wanting to do things with HTML that it wouldn't easily let me do, and the process of working with it felt far from "creative."
And yet, look at the web today, a mere few years later, and you'll find a creative playing field in full force. My brother and I hope to get you to the point where that's how it feels, and where HTML is a willing vehicle to help you communicate what you want to say; effectively and creatively.
The web has an amazing way of bringing together divergent technologies, people, and practices. My brother and I qualify as part of this weird phenomenon. We barely knew each other as we were growing up. I mean, he was a boy! Another species--but that's another story! He was the build-MITS-kit, teach-yourself-assembly-language-and hack-your-way-through-music-and-programming-type. I was the I-have-my-Mac-hear-me-roar-try-to-outdo-this-type. We both viewed each other in the nose-up position, and rarely discussed computers when we spoke.
So the web caught us offguard. Each of us at opposite ends of computer careers (myself a digital designer/animator, and he a programmer) the web let us face each other squarely eye-to-eye to say, "Hey, I want to learn what you do! You're not so uncool after all!" I wrote some design books, he wrote some programming books, and we finally said, "Let's do one together!" And here it is.
When I wrote my first book in 1995 (Designing Web Graphics), I could barely get publishers to understand that graphic designers would ever want to publish on the web. It was not considered at that point to be a design medium. Things have changed--look around the web today, and you'll find stellar examples of beautiful visual design. (You'll also see some not-so-stellar examples, but more about that later.)
To be honest, there hasn't been an HTML book until now that I could wholeheartedly recommend. I like some of the visual quickstart guides, and the teach yourself guides, but they always raised more questions for me than they answered. It seemed to me that a different kind of HTML book was needed--one that walked the reader through the web site creation process which contained lessons and source files handy to try out. Even though there are a glut of HTML books in the bookstores, I saw a glaring need for a different type of HTML book that offered a more holistic approach to teaching the subject matter. I've never met anyone more knowledgeable about HTML than my brother, so when he agreed to partner with me on this book, I was thrilled.
Mitchell Waite (Waite Group Press and Waite Online) once pegged me perfectly. He said, "Oh, I get what you do! You write books for yourself!" He couldn't have been more correct. I write books in a way in which I would want things explained to me. There's a certain amount of required organization, a certain amount of required detail and background information, and a whole lot of concrete, "Oh, so THAT's how you do it!" To be concise, I'm the practical type, not the theoretical type.
My brother and I are both well-worn travelers in this weird HTML/Web landscape, and hope to share our hard-earned lessons with you. We hope you get down, get dirty, and get creative with this HTML/Web stuff. We've learned a lot of tricks and techniques that will help you get past the tools and into the creative process.
My brother and I really enjoy sharing knowledge with each other. This has been a fantastic opportunity for us to blend our knowledge, get it down on paper, and put it in one place. We both write conversationally, and in some respects, this book invites you to witness our lively and educated conversation about web design and web programming.
Artists care about how things look, that colors match, that artwork
aligns exactly the way we planned. The web is a disconcerting
medium because it's been designed to be customizable by the end
user and the browsers, creating a situation where the results
of your design efforts can easily look different than you planned.
This book will help artists and programmers control what they
can and accept and identify what they can't.