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Managing starter pages


Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

with James Williamson

Video: Managing starter pages

While starter pages can do a great job of giving new designers a head start on controlling page layout with CSS. They are, by nature, designed to be individual pages. Using the CSS within a starter page to control an entire site can be a bit of a challenge to somebody who is not familiar with CSS. In this movie, I want to show a workflow based on creating sites through starter pages. By no means is it the only way you starter pages, nor am I suggesting that this is the preferred way of establishing site layout.
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  1. 2m 57s
    1. Welcome
      1m 8s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 49s
  2. 7m 50s
    1. What is Dreamweaver?
      3m 16s
    2. Learning web design
      2m 22s
    3. Current web standards
      2m 12s
  3. 43m 9s
    1. The Welcome screen
      4m 5s
    2. Windows and Mac interface differences
      2m 23s
    3. The Application toolbar
      4m 7s
    4. The Document toolbar
      4m 40s
    5. Arranging panels
      8m 19s
    6. Managing workspaces
      7m 32s
    7. The Properties Inspector
      5m 54s
    8. The Insert panel
      6m 9s
  4. 25m 45s
    1. Basic site structure
      3m 11s
    2. File naming conventions
      1m 49s
    3. Defining a new site
      4m 35s
    4. Managing sites
      4m 51s
    5. Managing files and folders
      6m 36s
    6. Working with browsers
      4m 43s
  5. 27m 21s
    1. Creating new documents
      5m 16s
    2. New document preferences
      3m 6s
    3. Setting accessibility preferences
      4m 56s
    4. Working with starter pages
      3m 46s
    5. Managing starter pages
      10m 17s
  6. 30m 2s
    1. Basic tag structure
      2m 15s
    2. Adding structure to text
      8m 20s
    3. Creating lists
      9m 59s
    4. Getting text into Dreamweaver
      5m 59s
    5. Importing Word documents
      3m 29s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding style sheets
      2m 16s
    2. The anatomy of a CSS rule
      1m 48s
    3. Setting CSS preferences
      6m 36s
    4. The CSS Styles panel
      10m 2s
    5. Controlling CSS through the Properties Inspector
      5m 14s
    6. Using the Code Navigator
      7m 21s
    7. Using CSS Enable
      6m 45s
    8. Understanding element selectors
      8m 11s
    9. Understanding class selectors
      8m 49s
    10. Understanding ID selectors
      5m 59s
    11. Understanding descendant selectors
      6m 51s
    12. Attaching external style sheets
      7m 44s
  8. 1h 47m
    1. Working with units of measurement
      7m 11s
    2. Declaring font families
      9m 39s
    3. Controlling font sizing
      9m 9s
    4. Controlling weight and style
      8m 0s
    5. Controlling line height
      8m 29s
    6. Controlling vertical spacing with margins
      12m 3s
    7. Controlling spacing with padding
      5m 39s
    8. Aligning text
      8m 26s
    9. Transforming text
      5m 36s
    10. Writing global styles
      15m 42s
    11. Writing targeted styles
      17m 37s
  9. 1h 32m
    1. Understanding image types
      5m 3s
    2. Managing assets in Dreamweaver
      12m 51s
    3. Setting image accessibility preferences
      4m 20s
    4. Setting external image editing preferences
      3m 52s
    5. Placing images on the page
      7m 37s
    6. Photoshop integration
      5m 54s
    7. Modifying Smart Objects
      5m 51s
    8. Alternate Photoshop workflows
      8m 8s
    9. Modifying image properties
      11m 14s
    10. Styling images with CSS
      7m 11s
    11. Using background graphics
      9m 3s
    12. Positioning background graphics
      11m 6s
  10. 55m 16s
    1. Link basics
      3m 37s
    2. Setting site linking preferences
      2m 14s
    3. Creating links in Dreamweaver
      11m 1s
    4. Absolute links
      5m 8s
    5. Using named anchors
      11m 19s
    6. Linking to named anchors in external files
      2m 44s
    7. Creating an email link
      5m 24s
    8. Creating CSS-based rollovers
      13m 49s
  11. 1h 34m
    1. CSS structuring basics
      2m 56s
    2. The Box Model
      13m 21s
    3. Understanding floats
      6m 53s
    4. Clearing and containing floats
      8m 56s
    5. Using relative positioning
      4m 8s
    6. Using absolute positioning
      7m 18s
    7. Creating structure with div tags
      12m 7s
    8. Styling basic structure
      10m 34s
    9. Creating a two-column layout
      10m 37s
    10. Using Live View and CSS Inspect
      7m 51s
    11. Using Browser Lab
      9m 39s
  12. 56m 22s
    1. Reviewing table structure
      7m 41s
    2. Importing tabular data
      5m 13s
    3. Creating accessible tables
      9m 56s
    4. Using thead and tbody tags
      4m 0s
    5. Basic table styling
      8m 45s
    6. Styling table headers
      7m 52s
    7. Styling column groups
      4m 22s
    8. Creating custom table borders
      5m 1s
    9. Styling table captions
      3m 32s
  13. 1h 43m
    1. How forms work
      3m 0s
    2. Reviewing form design
      3m 2s
    3. Creating accessible forms
      7m 33s
    4. Setting form properties
      4m 6s
    5. The fieldset and legend tags
      4m 32s
    6. Inserting text fields
      5m 58s
    7. Inserting list menu items
      5m 26s
    8. Inserting checkboxes
      7m 50s
    9. Inserting radio button groups
      6m 22s
    10. Inserting text areas
      4m 12s
    11. Inserting submit buttons
      3m 37s
    12. Basic form styling
      12m 0s
    13. Form element styling
      8m 52s
    14. Styling form layout
      11m 49s
    15. Adding form interactivity
      2m 47s
    16. Using Spry validation widgets
      12m 49s
  14. 1h 23m
    1. Planning for templates
      10m 51s
    2. Creating a new template
      10m 37s
    3. Using editable attributes
      13m 43s
    4. Creating optional regions
      6m 23s
    5. Creating new pages from a template
      9m 17s
    6. Applying templates to existing pages
      6m 9s
    7. Working with nested templates
      7m 56s
    8. Working with repeating regions
      12m 58s
    9. Modifying templates
      5m 41s
  15. 40m 14s
    1. Behaviors overview
      3m 47s
    2. Hiding and showing elements
      9m 18s
    3. Spry overview
      4m 4s
    4. Using Spry widgets
      11m 36s
    5. Adding Spry effects
      3m 6s
    6. Using the Widget Browser
      8m 23s
  16. 28m 18s
    1. Inserting Flash files
      5m 4s
    2. Setting properties for Flash
      6m 27s
    3. Dreamweaver and Flash integration
      6m 6s
    4. Encoding Flash video
      6m 10s
    5. Adding Flash video
      4m 31s
  17. 45m 28s
    1. Running site-wide reports
      6m 33s
    2. Checking for broken links
      5m 41s
    3. Checking for browser compatibility
      8m 3s
    4. Adding remote servers
      8m 0s
    5. Uploading files
      7m 20s
    6. Managing remote sites
      9m 51s
  18. 34s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training
15h 22m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training, Adobe Certified Instructor James Williamson explores the tools and techniques of Dreamweaver CS5, Adobe's web design and development software. This course covers both the ins and outs of Dreamweaver, as well as recommended best practices for crafting new web sites and files, the fundamentals of HTML and CSS, and how to ensure clean and accessible code. The course also includes how to use tools in Dreamweaver to create and style web pages, manage multiple sites, and add user interactivity with widgets and scripting. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Defining and structuring a new site
  • Creating new web documents from scratch or from templates
  • Adding and formatting text
  • Understanding style sheet basics
  • Placing and styling images
  • Creating links to internal pages and external web sites
  • Controlling page layout with CSS
  • Building and styling forms
  • Reusing web content with templates
  • Adding interactivity
  • Working with Flash and video
James Williamson

Managing starter pages

While starter pages can do a great job of giving new designers a head start on controlling page layout with CSS. They are, by nature, designed to be individual pages. Using the CSS within a starter page to control an entire site can be a bit of a challenge to somebody who is not familiar with CSS. In this movie, I want to show a workflow based on creating sites through starter pages. By no means is it the only way you starter pages, nor am I suggesting that this is the preferred way of establishing site layout.

It does, however, offer somebody new to Web design a way to quickly establish a solid site-wide layout and introduces new designers to the concepts of controlling sites through external styles. So the first thing I am going to do is create a brand-new page using one of Dreamweaver's starter pages. So I am going to File and choose New, and I am going to choose from a blank page HTML, and I want choose this 2 column fixed, left sidebar, header and footer. Now unlike we did in the last movie, this time I want to change where the Layout CSS is going to be located.

Instead of adding it to the head of the document, I want to place it in a new external cascading stylesheets file. Externalizing your CSS is a really great way of controlling your site, because now every single HTML page can link to that CSS file. And any change that you need to make to your site's typography, layout, colors, can be done by modifying a single file. So it's a really nice way of working. Okay, now I am going to choose Create and when I do that, because of the fact that I've told Dreamweaver to create a new file for the CSS, I'm going to be prompted to create a brand-new CSS file.

Now within my 04_05 folder, I am going to create a brand-new folder for my CSS. It's always a good idea to keep all of your styles in a single folder. So I am going to name this folder _CSS. The underscore identifies it as an asset folder instead of subdirectory and makes sure that it displays towards the top of any directory list. Now inside that, I am going to save this file, not as twoCol FixLtHdr, which is nice and descriptive, but I just want to call it main.css. Now, you are free to name your style sheets anything you want to name them.

I usually use main, because, well, it's the main styles of the page, but really, you can come up with your own naming conventions. You don't have to follow what I've done here. So I going to choose Save, and now I have my brand-new starter page - I am going to switch over to Design view - and it is being driven by this external style sheet. Now I can prove that by going over here to my CSS Styles panel, clicking on the All Styles and sure enough, there is my external main.css. So this time if I go into Code View, you'll notice that in the head of the document there are no styles whatsoever.

They are all in this external main.css, and you can click right up here in the document toolbar, and you could see they're all now been externalized in that one file and they are being linked to the page. Now if you're wondering how that works, notice that here in the source code of our HTML file, on line number six, we have this link, right here, that's linking to this file. Now this is a weird link right now, because it's pointing to some place on my computer instead of a document-relative link. The reason for that, we haven't saved our file yet, so let's go ahead and do that.

I am going to File and choose Save. I am going to save this into my root directory, and I am going to save it as index.htm. Now notice that that link tag resolves itself to something that's a little bit more manageable. Now, as I've mentioned before, you're free to tweak these layouts and do anything you want to them. So let's say that while we agreed that this is a great place to start, maybe it wasn't exactly the layout or the color scheme that we want. So what we are going to do is make some quick changes to our CSS to affect the width of the page, maybe width of some columns, things like that.

Now in order to do that, it's very important that you understand the structure of the page. And Dreamweaver can help you do that as well. Notice, for example, if I click inside this heading called Instructions, right down here underneath, our document window, we have what is known as the tag selector. Now if you've never used the tag selector before, I really want to encourage you to take a closer look at this. Your tag selector is going to tell you the structure of exactly the area that you are in. So for example, by clicking in here, I see that that I am inside of an H1 Tag, which is inside of a div with a class of content, which is inside another div with a class of container, which is inside the body tag.

Now if I click on Code View, I can see that very clearly. There is my div for content, there is a div for a sidebar, there is my container div, and there is my body tag. So there we were seeing the tag structure that the tag selector was telling us. Now why is that important? Well, if you don't understand what the name or the ID or the class of that element is, you won't know which rule in your CSS to change. Now we are going to be talking a lot more about CSS later in this title, so for right now, if some of this is confusing for you, that's okay.

We'll be talking a lot more about classes, IDs and these selectors as we go. Okay, so what I want to do is I want to change the overall width of my page, and the best way to do that is find the top level parent tag, which in this case is the div with the class of container, and then go find the selector that drives that. So I am going to go over to my CSS Styles panel. There it is right there, .container. Now if collapse my Files panel by double -clicking on the tab, I get to see all those properties currently for my container. Notice that right now the width is 960 pixels. Well, maybe I want it to be shorter than that, so I could click right here for the value, and just type in 920 pixels, and when I do that it shirks the page size down.

I also notice that I don't see my main content region anymore. Well, the reason for that is the main content region is now too wide to fit in this area. The width of the sidebar plus the width of the main content region need to add up till 920. So I am going to go and find that content region. Once again, I am going down the list of my selectors until I find content. I notice that the width given for this is 780 pixels. I am going to change that to 740. There we go. My content is back again. So now we have a much narrower page that fits what we want for our site.

We can continue to make changes here. For example, we could change color. We could change typography. We could change the width of the sidebar and the main content region so that the sidebar was a little wider, and it's entirely up to us. Okay, so I'm pretty happy with what we have done here. So I am just going to go ahead and do a Save All, and close my index file. Now once again, as I mentioned before, CSS starter pages are typically designed to be single pages, but what if we want to create an entirely new page for our site using all those modifications that we just made? Well, let's see how we would do that.

So I am going to go to File, and choose New. Once again, I am going to choose this 2 column fixed, left sidebar, header and footer. I can go ahead and click Create, but before I do that, I want to verify something. Notice, again, that Layout CSS is saying, "Okay, create the New file." Well, that wouldn't be very efficient. You'd be creating a new external stylesheet for every single page in your site. It's not really what you want to do. So instead of that option, I am just going to say Link to an existing file. After all, I want to use that style sheet that we just created.

Now when you do that, you have to go over here and tell Dreamweaver which stylesheet you want to use. Some sites have multiple stylesheets, so don't assume that it's just going to go ahead and pick up the stylesheet that you just did. So I am going to click that little link to Browse, and again, I am going to Browse out to the 04_05 CSS folder that we created earlier, choose main.css. And that little warning that you got is just Dreamweaver saying, "Hey, make sure you save this file." Next thing we are going to do is we are going to add that head of the document as a Link.

And we'll talk more about the difference between Link and Import in the later movies. For right now, we just want to use Link, so I'll click OK, and I'll click Create. Now I am going to go ahead and save this file, and I am going to save this as about.htm. Perfect. Now we are getting the proper width, and we're using the styles that we modified earlier. So we didn't have to create a whole new section of files, but because of the fact that we use the same starter page, the structure of HTML was the same, and that means that the styles we had earlier can drive this page. Now if I choose a one-column layout or a three-column layout, it probably wouldn't have been as effective because those styles are designed for this particular layout.

So if you are going to use a one column, a two column, and a three column within your site, you may need to have separate external style sheets to drive those. Now, I want to take just one last moment here and prove to you that those external styles are driving both pages. I am going to go right over here to our CSS Styles, and I'm going to choose the header selector. The header is this top region. I can see that I have background color for that, so I am going to highlight these hex values here, and I am going to change it to a different color, maybe one for more Explore California site.

So I am going to choose #193742. When I Return, I can see that the header is now sort of that dark blue. Now if I do a Save All, go over to my Files panel, and open up the index file, I can see that it's using that same exact blue color. So both of those are getting their layout, their color, their typography, all of that from that external stylesheet that we created when we first created our first starter page. Now this workflow is going to allow newer Web designers to quickly establish a basic page structure and an external CSS file that can be used to control the entire site.

The CSS is lightweight. It can be modified as much as the site requires. It's also a great way to learn CSS, as you can experiment with the styles to see how it affects multiple pages and add rules to the CSS to control additional elements within the page. Of course, there are other ways to achieve the same results, but this is one of the quickest and easiest ways for you new users to adopt. And one last thing: this in no way lessens the need for new designers to learn CSS as quickly as possible. CSS is used to control almost all modern Web sites, and without understanding how it works, and how to control it, your Web design skills will always be needlessly limited.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training .

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Q: After creating a website following the instructions in the course, the header background graphic appears correctly in all browsers except Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7.  The graphic works properly in IE 8. What can be done to make the graphics appear in IE 6 and IE 7?
A: To make the header background graphic appear, wrap the header div tag in another div tag and give it an ID like “mainHeader.” The problem stems from a bug in Internet Explorer that prevents the browser from dealing with absolutely positioned elements that are right next to relatively positioned elements.  Following the steps above should solve the problem.
Q: In the tutorial, the author links the Tool Tip to the word "More" at the bottom of the thumbnail photo field. I can't figure out how to place the <a> "More" on the thumbnail photo field.
A: In the example, there is a paragraph that wraps an <img> tag and the word "More," which is surrounded by an anchor tag (<a>). The author uses CSS to make sure the parent div tag of the thumbs floats to the left, and is only wide enough for the image. This causes the link text to break down onto another line. Then, the instructor uses CSS to align the link text to the right of the <img>. The link itself is a void JavaScript function, ( javascript();). This gives you a "dummy" link without returning you to the top of the page as the "#" dummy link tends to do.
If you were manually typing the text in, you could select the image, hit the right arrow button, and begin typing. The text should then appear on screen.
Q: In this movie, you are making changes to the HTML in order to customize the text layout on your page (i.e. h1, h2, and h3 tags as well as strong and em tags). I'm wondering why you are not using CSS to do this (i.e. font-size, font-weight). Do you typically use one method, or is it customary to do use both in a layout, and if so, what guidelines would you suggest to determine which to use when?
A: We modify the page's structure through the use of h1, h2, and other heading tags. So when we are choosing heading levels, we're not concerning ourselves with typography; we're establishing page structure. A heading is chosen to denote the level of importance for the heading, not typography.
CSS should always be used for presentation, not HTML.
Q: In the “Understanding ID selectors” movie, the author states that only one ID tag can be used per page, but then he adds two ID tags. Can you please clarify this for me?
A: You can use as many IDs per page as you wish. They just must all use a unique name. Therefore if you assign an element the ID of "header" no other element on THAT page may use the same ID.
Q: I noticed that in this course, the instructor uses this code on his CSS external sheet: @charset "UTF-8"; I was under the impression that this code wasn't necessary. The site is unclear on the matter. Is it necessary? Is it a best practice? Is it an older form of CSS?
A: The characterset attribute is added automatically by Dreamweaver, and there’s no practical reason to remove it. While it's not needed (the HTML page should indicate which encoding to use for the page) it is helpful if the CSS file is ever imported or used on a page where the characterset isn't specified. Think of it as a safety net for characterset encoding. Not necessary, but not harmful either.
Q: I need to add captions below images that I insert in pages of text. I played all the lessons in Chapter 5 (Adding Text and Structure) but none dealt with captions. I hope the author has an answer or can refer me to a source.
A: In HTML 4 and XHTML 1 (which is what Dreamweaver CS5 uses by default), there wasn't really a way to add captions below your photos. Most web authors would "fake" captions by having paragraphs of text below their images and using CSS to position and style the captions in the desired manner. Many would use a class such as .imgCaption to control the styling. To do this you would essentially position the text underneath the image through CSS (often by grouping the image and the paragraph in a div tag) and italicizing the text.

However in HTML5, there are new elements that allow us to associate images and their captions, the figure and figcaption element. Our author James Williamson just finished a course on HTML5: Syntax, Structure, and Semantics which details how to use it.

HTML5 Doctor also has a nice article on the figure and figcaption elements at
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