NCSA--A Beginner's Guide to HTML, Part 3
Part 3 contains the following sections:
To include an inline image, enter:
where ImageName is the URL of the image file.
The syntax for <IMG SRC> URLs is identical to that used in an anchor HREF. If the image file is a GIF file, then the filename part of ImageName must end with .gif. Filenames of X Bitmap images must end with .xbm; JPEG image files must end with .jpg or .jpeg; and Portable Network Graphic files must end with .png.
For example, to include a self portrait image in a file along with the portrait's dimensions, enter:
<IMG SRC=SelfPortrait.gif HEIGHT=100 WIDTH=65>
NOTE: Some browsers use the HEIGHT and WIDTH attributes to stretch or shrink an image to fit into the allotted space when the image does not exactly match the attribute numbers. Not all browser developers think stretching/shrinking is a good idea. So don't plan on your readers having access to this feature. Check your dimensions and use the correct ones.
Aligning Text with an Image
This text is aligned with the top of the image (<IMG SRC = "BarHotlist.gif" ALIGN=TOP>). Notice how the browser aligns only one line and then jumps to the bottom of the image for the rest of the text.
And this text is centered on the image (<IMG SRC = "BarHotlist.gif" ALIGN=CENTER>). Again, only one line of text is centered; the rest is below the image.
Images without Text
<p ALIGN=CENTER> <IMG SRC = "BarHotlist.gif"> </p>which results in:
The image is centered; this paragraph starts below it and left justified.
Some World Wide Web browsers--primarily those that run on VT100 terminals--cannot display images. Some users turn off image loading even if their software can display images (especially if they are using a modem or have a slow connection). HTML provides a mechanism to tell readers what they are missing on your pages.
The ALT attribute lets you specify text to be displayed instead of an image. For example:
<IMG SRC="UpArrow.gif" ALT="Up">
where UpArrow.gif is the picture of an upward pointing arrow. With graphics-capable viewers that have image-loading turned on, you see the up arrow graphic. With a VT100 browser or if image-loading is turned off, the word Up is shown in your window.
You should try to include alternate text for each image you use in your document, which is a courtesy for your readers.
Background images can be a texture (linen finished paper, for example) or an image of an object (a logo possibly). You create the background image as you do any image.
However you only have to create a small piece of the image. Using a feature called tiling, a browser takes the image and repeats it across and down to fill your browser window. In sum you generate one image, and the browser replicates it enough times to fill your window. This action is automatic when you use the background tag shown below.
The tag to include a background image is included in the <BODY> statement as an attribute:
Always preview changes like this to make sure your pages are readable. (For example, many people find red text on a black background difficult to read!)
You change the color of text, links, visited links, and active links using attributes of the <BODY> tag. For example, enter:
<BODY BGCOLOR="#000000" TEXT="#FFFFFF" LINK="#9690CC">This creates a window with a black background (BGCOLOR), white text (TEXT), and silvery hyperlinks (LINK).
The six-digit number and letter combinations represent colors by giving their RGB (red, green, blue) value. The six digits are actually three two-digit numbers in sequence, representing the amount of red, green, or blue as a hexadecimal value in the range 00-FF. For example, 000000 is black (no color at all), FF0000 is bright red, and FFFFFF is white (fully saturated with all three colors). These number and letter combinations are cryptic. Fortunately an online resource is available to help you track down the combinations that map to specific colors and there is software available for you to do this on your workstation:
You may want to have an image open as a separate document when a user activates a link on either a word or a smaller, inline version of the image included in your document. This is called an external image, and it is useful if you do not wish to slow down the loading of the main document with large inline images.
To include a reference to an external image, enter:
<A HREF="MyImage.gif">link anchor</A>You can also use a smaller image as a link to a larger image. Enter:
<A HREF="LargerImage.gif"><IMG SRC="SmallImage.gif"></A>The reader sees the SmallImage.gif image and clicks on it to open the LargerImage.gif file.
Use the same syntax for links to external animations and sounds. The only difference is the file extension of the linked file. For example,
<A HREF="AdamsRib.mov">link anchor</A>
specifies a link to a QuickTime movie. Some common file types and their extensions are:
Keep in mind your intended audience and their access to software. Most UNIX workstations, for instance, cannot view QuickTime movies.NCSA Relativity Group's pages for an excellent, award-winning example.)
Think of your tabular information in light of the coding explained below. A table has heads where you explain what the columns/rows include, rows for information, cells for each item. In the following table, the first column contains the header information, each row explains an HTML table tag, and each cell contains a paired tag or an explanation of the tag's function.
<TABLE> start of table definition <CAPTION> caption contents </CAPTION> caption definition <TR> start of first row definition <TH> cell contents </TH> first cell in row 1 (a head)The <TABLE> and </TABLE> tags must surround the entire table definition. The first item inside the table is the CAPTION, which is optional. Then you can have any number of rows defined by the <TR> and </TR> tags. Within a row you can have any number of cells defined by the <TD>...</TD> or <TH>...</TH> tags. Each row of a table is, essentially, formatted independently of the rows above and below it. This lets you easily display tables like the one above with a single cell, such as Table Attributes, spanning columns of the table.
Using table borders with images can create an impressive display as well. Experiment and see what you like.
This processing of incoming data is usually handled by a script or program written in Perl or another language that manipulates text, files, and information. If you cannot write a program or script for your incoming information, you need to find someone who can do this for you.
The forms themselves are not hard to code. They follow the same constructs as other HTML tags. What could be difficult is the program or script that takes the information submitted in a form and processes it. Because of the need for specialized scripts to handle the incoming form information, fill-out forms are not discussed in this primer. Check the Additional Online Reference section for more information.
Consider this example of HTML:
<B>This is an example of <DFN>overlapping</B> HTML tags.</DFN>
The word overlapping is contained within both the <B> and <DFN> tags. A browser might be confused by this coding and might not display it the way you intend. The only way to know is to check each popular browser (which is time-consuming and impractical).
In general, avoid overlapping tags. Look at your tags and try pairing them up. Tags (with the obvious exceptions of elements whose end tags may be omitted, such as paragraphs) should be paired without an intervening tag in between. Look again at the example above. You cannot pair the bold tags without another tag in the middle (the first definition tag). Try matching your coding up like this to see if you have any problem areas that should be fixed before your release your files to a server.
HTML protocol allows you to embed links within other HTML tags:
<H1><A HREF="Destination.html">My heading</A></H1>
Do not embed HTML tags within an anchor:
<A HREF="Destination.html"> <H1>My heading</H1> </A>
Although most browsers currently handle this second example, the official HTML specifications do not support this construct and your file will probably not work with future browsers. Remember that browsers can be forgiving when displaying improperly coded files. But that forgiveness may not last to the next version of the software! When in doubt, code your files according to the HTML specifications (see For More Information below).
Character tags modify the appearance of the text within other elements:
<UL> <LI><B>A bold list item</B> <LI><I>An italic list item</I> </UL>
Avoid embedding other types of HTML element tags. For example, you might be tempted to embed a heading within a list in order to make the font size larger:
<UL> <LI><H1>A large heading</H1> <LI><H2>Something slightly smaller</H2> </UL>
Although some browsers handle this quite nicely, formatting of such coding is unpredictable (because it is undefined). For compatibility with all browsers, avoid these kinds of constructs. (The Netscape <FONT> tag, which lets you specify how large individual characters will be displayed in your window, is not currently part of the official HTML specifications.)
What's the difference between embedding a <B> within a <LI> tag as opposed to embedding a <H1> within a <LI>? Within HTML the semantic meaning of <H1> is that it's the main heading of a document and that it should be followed by the content of the document. Therefore it doesn't make sense to find a <H1> within a list.
Character formatting tags also are generally not additive. For example, you might expect that:
would produce bold-italic text. On some browsers it does; other browsers interpret only the innermost tag.
Validate Your CodeWhen you put a document on a Web server, be sure to check the formatting and each link (including named anchors). Ideally you will have someone else read through and comment on your file(s) before you consider a document finished.
You can run your coded files through an HTML validation service that will tell you if your code conforms to accepted HTML. If you are not sure your coding conforms to HTML specifications, this can be a useful teaching tool. Fortunately the service lets you select the level of conformance you want for your files (i.e., strict, level 2, level 3). If you want to use some codes that are not officially part of the HTML specifications, this latitude is helpful.
Dummy ImagesWhen an <IMG SRC> tag points to an image that does not exist, a dummy image is substituted by your browser software. When this happens during your final review of your files, make sure that the referenced image does in fact exist, that the hyperlink has the correct information in the URL, and that the file permission is set appropriately (world-readable). Then check online again!
Update Your FilesIf the contents of a file are static (such as a biography of George Washington), no updating is probably needed. But for documents that are time sensitive or covering a field that changes frequently, remember to update your documents!
Updating is particularly important when the file contains information such as a weekly schedule or a deadline for a program funding announcement. Remove out-of-date files or note why something that appears dated is still on a server (e.g., the program requirements will remain the same for the next cycle so the file is still available as an interim reference).
Browsers DifferWeb browsers display HTML elements differently. Remember that not all codes used in HTML files are interpreted by all browsers. Any code a browser does not understand is usually ignored though.
You could spend a lot of time making your file "look perfect" using your current browser. If you check that file using another browser, it will likely display (a little or a lot) differently. Hence these words of advice: code your files using correct HTML. Leave the interpreting to the browsers and hope for the best.
Comments such as the name of the person updating a file, the software and version used in creating a file, or the date that a minor edit was made are the norm.
To include a comment, enter:
<!-- your comments here -->You must include the exclamation mark and the hyphens as shown.
The following offer advice on how to write "good" HTML:
A Beginner's Guide to HTML / email@example.com / revised April 96 edits: 7/96; 9/96; 1/97