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In this hands-on course, James Williamson demonstrates the concepts that form the foundation of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), including styling text, adding margins and padding, and controlling how images display. The course also explores the tools needed to work with CSS, the differences between embedded and external styles, how to use selectors to target elements, and what to do when styles conflict.
Authoring CSS requires little more than a text editor. Style sheets are really nothing more than text files with a .css extension, so almost any text-editing tool will suffice. However, coding HTML and CSS can be time consuming, and syntax errors can be pretty hard to catch on your own. At a minimum, you're going to want to have a code-editing tool that has line numbers, code-formatting options, syntax highlighting, and good support for the languages that you're going to be authoring. If you're already authoring HTML, chances are you won't need to change tools.
Almost every HTML editor on the market also features strong support for CSS, so if you are already using a tool like Coda, BBEdit, Dreamweaver, or CoffeeCup's HTML editor, you don't need to change. On the other hand, if you're new to web development and have not picked a tool yet, I recommend trying out several different types of authoring tools before settling on a favorite. My Web Design Fundamentals and CSS Fundamentals Courses both have movies that give you an overview of a wide range of HTML and CSS editors.
Try downloading trial versions of a few of them and experiment with a variety of workflows and feature sets and you're bound to find one that fits your personal preferences. For this course, I'll be using Aptana Studio. It's free, it's cross-platform, and it has robust built-in CSS support. I'm also using Aptana because I want the focus of this course to be on the CSS code itself, not on the tools designed create it. There are some fantastic tools out there that will help you create CSS visually or even they help generate the code for you.
Those tools are great, but if you don't understand the underlying code that they're creating, you'll never really fully understand how styles work. So if you want to use a tool other than Aptana for this course, feel free. We'll be hand-coding all of our examples, so any tool that supports writing CSS by hand is going to work just fine. Now if you want to use Aptana, you can download and install it from www.aptana.com. And if you want your workspace to resemble mine, simply watch the "How to use the exercise files" movie in the introductory chapter of this title, and I go over pretty much how I'm going to set the program up for my use.
More than anything else, just be sure that the editing environment that you choose allows you to create clean, standards-compliant code. After that, it's just a matter of picking the tool that has the right set of features for the way that you like to work.
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