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Covering diverse topics such as improving workflow and managing CSS styles, Dreamweaver CS3 Beyond the Basics is a hands-on course that teaches users how to move beyond standard, static websites. Instructor James Williamson explores how to increase productivity, interactivity, and accessibility with Dreamweaver. He also discusses how to extend the application's capabilities with XML and XSL. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.
Now that we have added some background graphics to our header to make that a little bit more attractive, we want to take a look at another technique that's very important any time you are doing a two or a three-column type of a layout. One of the problems with CSS is that unless you give it a specified height, an element is only going to extend down as far as its content. So if I go, for example, to the sidebar. Let me go all the way down to my sidebar and go ahead and add a background property to that and the background property I am just going to go ahead and give it a color and we will just say #FFC for yellow color. If I were to Save All and then test this in my browser, you can see that although our sidebar now has a background color, if I scroll down, it doesn't extend all the way to the footer and I really need to give the illusion I am doing that. So we will use a technique here called faux columns and what faux columns does for us is it allows us to use a background graphic and repeat that background graphic over the Y-axis, so that it extends all the way down the page and then the trick is you got to place it on element that extends all the way down to the bottom of your footer element and in this case, the sidebar clearly does not. So even though this background graphic applies to the sidebar, we are not going to apply it to the actual sidebar rule. We do have an element that runs the length of the page and that would be the wrapper div tag So I am going to remove this background property from my sidebar and I am going to scroll up to my wrapper div tag. Now I could go ahead and edit my background graphic on the wrapper div tag and I will go ahead and type in URL and type in whatever I am looking for, but I am not getting the same code hinting that I was getting in the external CSS file. So that would probably a little bit better. So let me go ahead and undo that and switch back over to my layout_background.css because I really like having the ability to browse for a specific file rather than having to remember the exact path. So I am going to scroll up to my wrapper styles and it's all the way up top, so you might actually want to jump up to the top here and it's a little easier to scroll down once you are at top and there is my background property. So right after the color definition, I will go ahead and type in a URL and I will browse to my _images directory and I will find inside the _images directory the sidebar_bg.gif and we will go ahead and choose that. Now repeating this one is pretty important. So what we are going to do with this? And what I am going to do is I am just going to go ahead and do a repeat along the Y-axis. So I will choose repeat-y. What that will do for me is it will just repeat along the Y-axis. So, it will tile over and over again top to bottom but it won't tile side to side.
And we will save that, jump back to index_background and there is the background graphic for our sidebar. As I scroll down, you can see that the background graphic is all the way down to the footer element. Now, how does it know where to position itself? Because we have applied it to the wrapper and doesn't the wrapper wrap all our content? Well, the secret to this is that I am looking at the actual image itself. So I am going to switch over to Photoshop and once we are in Photoshop, I have got the sidebar background graphic open. Notice that it's a GIF file and you will notice that it's 9000 pixels wide, which is the exact width of the wrapper div tag. The left-hand side of it is transparent and the right-hand side of it contains exactly what's necessary to give the illusion of that drop shadow effect as it's tiled along the Y-axis for our sidebar. So it gives us exactly the effect we are looking for. Back in the Dreamweaver we need to finish up our sidebar by applying some icons to these states. As we scroll through our sidebar, we can see that we have different dates and different events coming up. If I click inside one of those, I can see that they are Heading 2s and each of them has a class style applied to it.
So the first one is show, the second one is music, the third one is class. So, these are different types of events and to identify them visually, we will go ahead and put in an icon. Now that's best done with the background graphic because if we were to go ahead and put in an image, obviously, the image is embedded in the code and it really doesn't serve any purpose other than visually explaining what the event is and we just want to pass forward the information. So using background graphics for that is a little bit better. Now any image that you need to have accessed by whoever is consuming the content and if you need to put an alt tag on an image or need that image to be searchable, then you will want that actually in the code. But for something else, you can just use background graphics. So I will switch back over to the layout_background.css and we need to find our sidebar styles. So we will continue down the page until we find our sidebar and it's directly after our favorites. One of the habits that I would encourage you to get into is to place your styles in the order of the content on the page because doing that makes it a lot easier to find your styles later on. You'll know, hey, the sidebar comes right after my main content. So right after the content styles, I can locate the sidebar styles. We will go down to the bottom of the sidebar styles and we have two sets of sidebar styles; we have just the regular sidebar and then the sidebar navigation styles. Now we will run into these sidebar navigation styles later on. You can tell right now that there is no content in the sidebar that's navigation. So eventually there will be in some of the secondary pages.
So prior to that content, we will just go ahead and enter a new rule and we will type in #sidebar h2 and I am going to do the show class first. So I will go ahead and open up a curly brace and all we are doing is positioning our background graphic. So I am going to type in the background and then again, I am going to use my code hinting to launch the browser, so for URL. And I am going to go find the file, easel.gif, because that is the transparent GIF file that corresponds to any type of a show. I will select Choose and I now need to give it a no-repeat and then I am going to do a little bit of positioning here and I need to do both horizontal and vertical positioning.
For my horizontal positioning, I am going to give it a horizontal position of 0.5em and for my vertical positioning I will give it a -0.5em. So that's a very, very small, negative value for the vertical positioning. Now you might wonder well, how do you know these values? And to be quite honest with you, it's trial and error. You have the size of your graphic; you know where you are going to place it. You are going to add some padding to the content to push the heading 2 away from this left edge but in reality, you will take a guess, you will position it and then you will kind of tweak these styles. So after you're done with that rule, just go ahead and add a curly brace and all three of our events are going to use very similar CSS rules. So there is really no need for us to type them in three times. The only thing that really changes is the background graphic itself and the vertical and horizontal positioning. So I am going to go ahead and copy that rule and paste it and I have to change the event.
So instead of show, change the class style to music. So we will handle the music event. Change the graphic from easel.gif. So you want to just highlight the word easel there. Change that to note.gif and the positioning is going to change to the 0.5em. Vertical positioning will remain the same but the horizontal position is going to be 0.1em. We will need to paste that one more time and we will change again the class to actually class because it's a class that they are holding. So I will change the easel.gif to the palette.gif and the vertical positioning is going to be 0.3em and the horizontal positioning is going to be 0.2, so make sure you take off the negative value there. 0.2.
We will save that and again what this is going to do-- each of these is not going to repeat, so it's only going to appear one time. We are using vertical positioning of 0.5em to sort of position it in the middle of line and then we are tweaking the horizontal position where we are moving some to the left and some to the right based on the size of the image. And we are using three separate images. So let me go back to index_background and when we click back on our index_background.htm, as we scroll down, we can see that the sidebar elements now have their individual icons and because the icons were at different heights, of course we had to adjust them all a bit. So when you use this type of technique, you are going to need to do a little tweaking. One thing that I do want to point out is each of those headings, the dates, 7.24, 6.15, 5.26. They all have enough padding to push the text away from the edge of the element so that the background graphics can appear with nothing on top of them.
So that's another part of technique that you really need to pay attention to. We will finish talking about background graphics in our next movie, as we explore adding a little extra design to our site, by adding rounded corners to one of our elements.
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