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CSS: Page Layouts introduces basic layout concepts, gives advice on how to create properly structured HTML based on prototypes and mockups, and goes into critical page layout skills such as floats and positioning. Author James Williamson shows how to combine these techniques to create fixed, fluid, and responsive layouts. Designers are also shown how to enhance their pages through the creative use of CSS techniques like multi-column text, opacity, and the background property. Exercise files are included with this course.
Now that we've taken a look at our mockup and discussed the initial page structure, it's time to go ahead and start coding it. Although we won't be authoring a lot of code in this exercise, what we'll be writing is extremely important, as it's the foundation for our entire site. Now as such, I'm going to have the mockup here open as we work and discuss what type of impact the decisions we make will have on our eventual layout, so I'll be switching back and forth between those mockup and the code that we create to kind of discuss how they are related. So I've got the mockup_home.ai opened, that we've been looking in the past couple of exercises, but what I'm going to do right now is switch back over to my code editor, and go ahead and crate a brand-new page for us to start working on.
So I'm just going to go up to File and choose New, I'm just going to do a new file. If you're not using Aptana, just whatever code editor you're using, go ahead and create a new file. Now I'm going to place this file in the Chapter 2, 02_05 folder. So I'm just going to save it right in there, and I'm going to name it index.htm. Okay, so there is our new file. Now the first thing I'm going to do is just go ahead and code the initial page structure. I am going to start off with a doctype declaration, and I'm just going to do doctype html.
You know, doctype are not case sensitive, so if you want to use a lower case here, that's fine. It doesn't really matter, just the exclamation point, DOCTYPE, and then html. Now you may be used to seeing a much longer doctype for older versions of HTML or even XHTML, but with new HTML5 doctype, we basically have the doctype there to trigger standards mode and just identify this as an HTML document. It really doesn't need to do anything besides that. Now on the line below that I'm going to go ahead and create an HTML tag, and I'm going to give myself a little bit spacing there.
Inside the HTML tag the first thing I'm going to do is create a , and inside the head, I'm going to go ahead and create a metatag with a character set attribute, so charset, and I'm going to make that value equal to "UTF-8," and I'll close that now. I don't need to self-close that because I'm doing HTML5. So the syntax is a little different. I don't need a closing tag. All that's really doing for us is insuring that the property character encoding is going to happen for our page. Okay, on the next line, I'm just going to go ahead and do a title, and inside the title, I'm going to type in "Welcome to Desolve." And then after the head I'm going to go ahead and create my body tag.
I will give myself a little bit space between that. Awesome! Okay, I'm going to go ahead and save that. All right. So that's really just getting the base structure out of the way. We haven't really started structuring any of our page content yet, and we'll do that within the body, so this is just a very minimal HTML page that's going to give us our basic starting point. All right, so as we went back through and identified regions in our mockup earlier, remember, the first region is going to be our header. So I am going to go back into my code. We're going to start with div tags for our structure, but later on we'll go back and revise these with HTML5 tags, once we start talking a little bit more about semantics.
So inside of this div tag I'm going to type in "Header content goes here," just so that we know kind of what belongs in that particular region, and I'm going to save the file. Now as I start building this, I'm going to start thinking a little bit about also the CSS that's going to be driving the layout. And if we start looking at these regions, we can see that the header region and the navigation and the banner, those all stack right one on top of another, but then down below that we have this article and our sidebar that sits side by side, and then we have finally a footer at the very bottom of the page.
So we can see the normal document flow is going to account for most of this layout, but when we get to this point, we're going to need to define some type of mechanism within our layout to move this column to left-hand side and that column to the right-hand side. Okay, so I'm just going to keep structuring my code. The next step is going to be our nav element, and then that's going to be followed by banner. So in my code I'm going to come in and create a brand-new div tag. And this time inside the tag, I'm going to type in "Navigation goes here." I have another div tag below that, and for this one I'm going to type in, "Banner content goes here." Now below the banner, remember, we have our article and our sidebar. Even though those two elements are sitting side by side in our layout, structurally I have to figure out which one of these I want to come first within my content. And this is a very important decision because screen readers or other type of user agents are going to experience that content in a different way than somebody who's just say looking at it within the browser.
So you really have to make a decision about which content is more important or which content should precede the other. In this case, I really want the article to come first and then the sidebar to come second, because the article is a little bit more important, and that content needs to be accessed. So I am going to go back into my code, I'll create another div tag, and here I'm just going to type in "Article content goes here," and then below that we'll do another div tag and we'll say "Sidebar goes here." Okay, now the only other element left on our page of course is this footer, so I'm going to go ahead and code the footer as well, and again just another div tag, and we're just going to say "Footer content goes here." Now it really wasn't that long ago, probably only two or three years ago, that I would begin structuring my page exactly like this, with this many divs.
Now, with the advent of HTML5, and I have some more structurally or semantically, I should say, sound elements to use, and we're going to switch over to using some of those just a little bit. But I really want you just to understand how the content is being grouped, in terms of the structure of the page, before we talk too much about semantics. Now there are other decisions that you're going to make at this point. Even though this is the basic structure, you might say to yourself, okay, are there other ways that we might group and arrange this content? Header, you know, sort of by itself, Navigation, I can see that being by itself. These two items, the Article and the Sidebar, those two items definitely relate to each other in a very significant way.
And in most pages we're not going to have this banner content, but in the homepage at least, I can see the banner content also being related to those two elements as well. So on the secondary pages, even though the banner isn't going to be there, I think it's still part of this main content on the page. And so, because of that, what I'm going to do is I'm going to wrap those three elements inside another div tag. So what I'm going to do is I'm just going to go above that banner and create another sort of generic div tag, and then just above the footer, I'll close it.
So these three elements are going to be grouped inside of another div tag. And a lot of times when you're authoring a page, you need to make this kind of judgments, thinking about how that's going to affect the entire site. Does this grouping make sense for my secondary pages, is this something that's going to allow me some flexibility a little bit later on, and how does that impact the layout? How does grouping those elements together, is it going to make it more difficult to display this as a two-column layout? So those are all things you need to think about. Okay, so that completes the basic structure of our page. Now as you can tell, it's really nondescriptive. I mean without the text inside those div tags, we wouldn't know what was supposed to go inside of them.
So because of that, the page really, at this point, isn't making any sense, semantically, at all. So next, we'll explore how we can add a little bit more meaning to our content through IDs and classes, and then we'll continue to move on to learning more about HTML5's semantic elements.
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