The following details the minimum software requirements for completing this book's examples, as well as additional optional software that can enhance your HTML coding and Web publishing endeavors.
You don't need to acquire specialized software to create, edit, preview, and debug your own HTML files. You probably already have everything you need—a simple text editor and a graphical Web browser that supports current Web standards.
HTML files are just regular text files, so all you need to create and edit HTML files is a simple text editor. Most platforms include free text editors that you can use:
Windows Notepad is included with all versions of Windows.
SimpleText is included with Mac OS 8/9 and is also available in OS X in the OS 9 application folder.
TextEdit is included with OS X.
Most Unix/Linux systems should include the vi or emacs text editors, or some variant of either.
For learning HTML, I don't recommend that you use an HTML editor that lets you insert HTML codes from drop-down menus or toolbars. The best way to learn HTML is to type in the codes yourself, rather than relying on a software program to do it for you. Later, after you've learned at least the basics of HTML, you can use any software tool that you think will enhance your Web publishing efforts. Many professional Web authors, however, continue to use a text editor as their Web authoring tool of choice.
Windows Notepad is included with all versions of Windows and works very well to create and edit HTML files. To run Windows Notepad:
Click the Start button and select Programs (in Windows XP, select More Programs, unless you've chosen to use the "classic" interface, which works the same as Windows 98).
Select Accessories and select Notepad.
For a shortcut to run Windows Notepad, click Start, select Run, type notepad, and hit the Enter key.
The SimpleText text editor is included with Mac OS 8 and 9. To run SimpleText:
Double-click the Macintosh HD icon and the Applications icon.
Double-click the SimpleText icon.
In OS X on the Macintosh, SimpleText has been replaced by a new native OS X application, TextEdit. SimpleText is still available, however, in the folder of OS 9 applications. Expect it to take a while to load, however, since the OS 9-emulator has to be opened first.
Users of Mac OS 7 and earlier can use the TeachText text editor to create and edit HTML files.
As mentioned above, the Mac OS X platform has replaced the Simple-Text text editor with TextEdit. Just use the Finder to locate and run TextEdit.
TextEdit, however, does not default to saving straight text files, which is necessary if you want to save HTML files (since HTML files are just straight text files). Instead, TextEdit defaults to saving text files in RTF (Rich Text Format), a binary file format that can't be displayed in a Web browser. It will also parse and render formatting in an HTML file when you open it (displaying a heading in larger text, rather than displaying the heading codes), unless you tell it not to. To set TextEdit to default to saving files as plain text files and to opening HTML files as straight text files (showing the raw HTML codes), you need to edit its Preferences window and make these changes:
Under New Document Format, select the Plain text radio button.
To cause long text lines to wrap, check the Wrap to Page check box.
Under Saving, uncheck the Append ".txt" extension to plain text files check box.
Under Rich Text Processing, check the Ignore rich text commands in HTML files check box.
Then just save your text files with an ".html" extension and they'll be saved as plain text files (ASCII text files) that can be opened and displayed in a Web browser.
There is no one text editor that is guaranteed to be available on all Unix/Linux systems. Most systems, however, should have either the vi or the emacs text editor available. The vi text editor, however, is not very user-friendly—it requires that you switch between insert and command mode, and depends upon the keyboard for all operations. A better choice is the emacs text editor, if it is available with your system, since it does not require switching between insert and command modes. A version of emacs, xemacs, may also be available, which provides a GUI (Graphical User Interface). There are many other text editors available for Unix and Linux, so you're not limited in your choices. For information on where to find additional freeware and shareware text editors for Unix and Linux, see the next section.
When first learning HTML or developing a relatively simple Web site, you shouldn't need anything other than a simple text editor, such as Notepad or SimpleText, for instance. If you want to go beyond creating a relatively simple Web site, however, you may benefit from additional features that more sophisticated text editors can provide, such as multi-windows, search-and-replace, bookmarks, spell-checkers, line numbering, word count, file compare, and more.
FIND IT ONLINE
There are many freeware and shareware text editors that are available for download on the Web. You can find and download additional freeware and shareware text editors for Windows, Macintosh OS 8/9, Macintosh OS X, and Unix/Linux at TuCows at www.tucows.com/.
You can use just about any graphical Web browser to preview HTML files. To be able to preview all of the examples provided in this book, however, you need to use a Web browser that supports current Web standards. You may already have a browser installed that is suitable to preview most of the examples in this book. I don't recommend using Netscape 4, Internet Explorer 4, or earlier versions of those browsers, however. To preview all of this book's examples, I recommend that you use one of the following browsers (or a later version):
Microsoft Internet Explorer Version 6 (or higher) for Windows—to download the latest version of Internet Explorer for Windows, go to www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/.
FIND IT ONLINE
Microsoft Internet Explorer Version 5 (or higher) for the Macintosh—to download the latest version of Internet Explorer for the Macintosh, go to www.microsoft.com/mac/products/ie/.
Mozilla Version 1 (or higher)—to download the latest release version of the Mozilla browser, go to www.mozilla.org/. Versions are available for Windows, Mac OS 8/9, Mac OS X, and Linux.
Netscape Version 7 (or higher)—to download the latest version of the Netscape browser, go to channels.netscape.com/ns/browsers/. Versions are available for Windows, Mac OS 8/9, Mac OS X, and Linux. (Note: The Netscape browser is based on the Mozilla browser, so to get the next version of Netscape, download the current version of Mozilla.)
Opera Version 7 (or higher)—to download the latest version of the Opera browser, go to www.opera.com/download/. Versions are available for Windows, Mac OS 8/9/X, Linux, OS/2, Solaris, FreeBSD, and QNX.
All you need to create, edit, and preview your own HTML files is a text editor and a graphical Web browser. There is no need to get any other software to create and preview this book's HTML examples. Other software programs may be useful or necessary for performing certain tasks or publishing your Web pages to the Web, however. The following is a list of optional software programs that are commonly used in creating Web pages.
Image editing software to create and edit your own Web art images to be displayed in your Web pages. Creating your own Web art images is covered in Appendix C, "Creating Your Own Web Graphics."
File transfer software to publish your HTML files to the Web. Using FTP to publish Web pages to the Web is covered in Appendix E, "Transferring Your Pages to the Web."
Image mapping software to include image maps (with clickable hotspot links) in your Web pages. Using image mapping software is covered in Appendix D, "Completing Your Wish List."
GIF animation software to create animated GIF images. Using GIF animation software to create your own GIF animations is covered in Appendix D, "Completing Your Wish List."
Image slicing software to slice images into sections to create wrap-around graphical interfaces. Using image slicing software is covered in Appendix D, "Completing Your Wish List."