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Many a time I have been approached by friends and acquaintances of mine who say to me: “how do I learn how to make web pages?” or “how do I go about making websites?”. When confronted with this types of question, I most a times am at a loss as to what exactly to say in response. This is not because I do not know what to make web sites, or cannot teach others to, nor is it because I want to be selfish with what I know. But this comes from the fact that the art of making websites nowadays has become an interaction of numerous disciplines such that if anyone is to make a statement as vague as “I want to learn how to make websites or web pages” it is very difficult to tell exactly to teach the fellow i.e. the exact discipline to teach. If the question above was asked about a decade and a half ago, when the web was in its very early stages, then the answer to the questions above would have been very simple, just learn HTML (the HyperText Markup Language) because in those days the web was full of static pages which allowed for little human interaction and no room for the kind of dynamic and responsive pages we have today. Nowadays thing are much different from then. Websites are very interactive. Databases, server scripting languages, and client side scripting languages have made the internet of today very different; it is now possible for people to shop on the internet, websites change dynamically by themselves without any human intervention, websites can now recognize sessions and human beings who browse those sites, and send an receive data in real time, and so many other functionalities, which have brought about so may innovations on the web. Some these innovations are what we call social networks where people get to meet other people, make friends, send messages to one another to chat and so on. Examples of these social networks include, Yahoo 360, Google Orkut, Myspace, Hi 5, Netlog, Flixster, and the recent yet highly popular Facebook. There are also auction and marketplaces like e-bay, and amazon.com Email sites like Yahoo!, Gmail GMX (global mail exchange), Zoho, In.com and hotmail. These technologies and the web development paradigms they come with have together been tagged WEB 2 by O’reilly an authority in web development. Recently, some web developers have pushed the frontiers of web design and development to a different level by making operating systems that run in browsers. Technically called hosted operating systems, these sites allow people to have all the amenities and services of a full and complete operating systems right in the browser. Web development which in this piece will be used interchangeably with web design and web programming consists of so many aspects. I’ll touch on some of these aspects.
One may ask that how can web authoring be an art and at the same time a science? Well it a science because like all sciences, it is knowledge we acquire and it does not come naturally nut it is also an art because proficiency in this field come with constant practice. Therefore I will say to you reading this piece that if your desire is to see your own web pages then when you have read the series, copy the code that are used in it and execute them and see what results from them, then try to play around them to see
b=how you can get the best result to suit your taste. Believe me when I say that reading the series alone will not do any good if you really want to be a web developer you need to practice. Before we move on to talk about anything, it is important for us to note that the internet is different from the web. The technicalities involved is beyond the scope of this write up but suffice to say the web is just a very small subset of the internet. Though it is the youngest and smallest element of the internet, it is the most popular and most widely used aspect of the internet. Now what the web does is that it uses the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to send and receive information around the world through the internet. The code that encapsulates this information is such that it is very difficult for even a web developer to interpret without a lot of effort. Therefore like we humans always do we let something else do the hard work for us. In this case the victim is what we call the web browser examples of these are; Mozilla’s Firefox, the Internet explorer by Microsoft, Apple’s Safari, Netscape’ Navigator, Google’s Chrome Browser, and the Amaya Browser by the W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium: this is the body that sets all the standards for the Web.). There are many other browser but are the main ones that contribute the bulk of web traffic. So the web browser’s work is to send your request in the form that the web can understand and receive the response and translates it into a form you can understand. Having said that I will now inform you of some tools that you need and some that are not so necessary but can make your life as a web author much easier.
TOOLS A NOTEPAD For those of you who have even wondered what the notepad that comes with your operating system is used for, this is you answer.
The notepad is for writing programs; simple, why? Because when you type and save something in the notepad, there is no formatting to the text you type. For instance: a word will have instructions in a document to specify exactly where bold text is, italics, double space, single space, whatsoever but the notepad does no such thing so you will find that text is much smaller in size than a word document of equal number of word. Also the fact that there is no formatting in the text means that every program on any computer that is able to read and execute the strings in the text can do so. The note pad that comes with the windows installation is okay but there are better alternatives that come for free and which you can download from the internet. These ones come with tabs that allow you to work on multiple projects at a time, help you check your code for errors and other functionalities that your ordinary windows notepad lacks. You may download notepad ++ from filehippo.com or the komodo editor from Activestate.com which are very useful not only for HTML coding but also for more complicated languages. There are a myriad of other notepads you can download, just run a search on your favorite search engine and see the result.
WEB BROWSER The second most important tool for the web developer is the web browser which I have talked extensively about. This because he/she needs to look at what he has designed and how different browsers render it. And yes, different browsers render (display) different pages differently, therefore it is advisable to have multiple browsers so that you can strike a compromise in your pages so as to satisfy all the different web users around the world. You may want to have at least the Safari, The Chrome Browser, The navigator and some other peripheral browsers, but