OK, so we’re in discussions with Wiley right now about the next edition of HTML … For Dummies. I’d like to explain what we’re thinking about doing with the next edition of the book, and ask all of you to chime in with your input, ideas, suggestions, and — where necessary — vetoes and objections. Feel free to post comments here, or to e-mail me at etittel at yahoo dot com (you non-robots know what to do with this address) or Jeff at conquestmedia dot com (ditto). All input gratefully accepted, and for those readers who either propose stuff we haven’t thought of, or steer us clear of rocks and shoals we might otherwise have missed, there will be prizes of some kind to come (free copies of the next edition, T-shirts, or perhaps even a steak dinner-sized gift card for somebody who comes up with something especially toothsome).
OK, then. Here’s what we’re thinking, as a numbered list of elements we’ve discussed and outlining we’ve already done:
- We’re going to bag most of the existing book as it currently stands. There will be a lot less discussion and design advice, and a LOT more reference material.
- We plan to provide an alphabetized guide to the following markup, with easy reference info on inside front and back covers to help you find what you’re looking for: HTML 4.01, HTML 5, CSS 1&2, CSS 3.
- The book is currently slated to begin with a section called “Markup Basics.” It explains what a markup language is, and where markup languages like HTML, XML, and CSS come from, along with basic HTML document structure and layout, the differences between document content and document presentation or appearance, and so forth. A single short chapter (no more than 24 pages).
- Coverage will focus on markup syntax and structure, with examples briefly provided in the book, and in profuse detail online. There will be sections on HTML 4.01 (broken up into current and deprecated or not-recommended markup reference sections), plus examples of HTML 4.01 forms. Next up: CSS 2, for the same kind of treatment. After that, ditto for HTML 5 and CSS 3. A final section in this part of the book will deal with common problems and mistakes and their fixes or workarounds, including legacy browsers, working with plain text editors and/or word processors for Web documents and what problems can occur, and validation and testing of Web documents.
- In the Parts of 10, we’ll still provide information about cool tools including Web document editors and key Web frameworks (JQuery, , but we’re not going to devote a huge amount of space or time to those topics in print, but can always beef up added coverage online if the reader consensus is that this is a good idea or value-add. We’ll also briefly discuss creating pages for mobile access (responsive web design, or RWD), share online resources, and provide a guided tour of the new and improved dummieshtml.com we’ll build to support this next edition of the book.
- We’re going to use Notepad++ and Aptana Studio (or maybe just Aptana because it’s available for Windows, OS X, and Linux, and works more or less alike across all these environments). Both of these editors are HTML and CSS savvy, and we’re going to quit advising people to use plain text editors for learning HTML. From now on, we’re going to start with a good, friendly, and usable basic Web page editor.
So there you have it: we’re going to turn the book primarily into a reference tool, with lots of examples and tips at the markup level. We’ll leave site design and smithing to other … For Dummies titles that already cover such topics, and will focus on exploring and explaining HTML and CSS markup for HTML 4.01 and 5, and CSS 2 and 3. Hopefully, this will lead to a better, more usable resource that everybody will appreciate.
We’re probably going to retitle the book to something like HTML and CSS For Dummies or maybe HTML and CSS Markup For Dummies to make the scope and coverage of the book as crystal clear as possible.
What do you think? Please let us know. What have we left out? What do you see that you don’t like or want? Be brutally honest with us. It’s always easier to change a book before you write it, than to amend it afterwards. That’s why we’re sharing this information with you, and why we hope you’ll also share your thoughts and reactions with us.
Thanks in advance!