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Styling basic structure


Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

with James Williamson

Video: Styling basic structure

In our last movie, we focused on creating the basic structure of our site layout. Although we did write some basic CSS for our regions, they were more so that we could visualize them within the layout rather than being part of our final layout. In this movie, we're going to write the CSS that's going to focus on our container elements and the basic positioning attributes, leaving the creation of our two-column layout for our next movie. In both movies we will focus not only on using the layout techniques we've learned so far but also on the organization and overall strategies of our layout CSS.
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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

Styling basic structure

In our last movie, we focused on creating the basic structure of our site layout. Although we did write some basic CSS for our regions, they were more so that we could visualize them within the layout rather than being part of our final layout. In this movie, we're going to write the CSS that's going to focus on our container elements and the basic positioning attributes, leaving the creation of our two-column layout for our next movie. In both movies we will focus not only on using the layout techniques we've learned so far but also on the organization and overall strategies of our layout CSS.

So here we have our index.htm from the 10 _08 folder and we're kind of picking up right where we left off. In the last movie we went ahead and built the structure of this and put in some placeholder CSS. Well we want to write some more robust CSS in this movie and write the CSS that's going to control our actual Explore California layout. So we are going to work with the same basic structural elements that we had before and I'm just going to come over here to the CSS Styles panel, maybe pull that divider down a little bit, so I can see these guys a little bit better.

I want to talk about some of the styles that we are going to be writing. Now the first style we are going to be writing is actually a new style to this, and what we are going to be doing is dealing with the fact that all browsers out there have default margins and padding that are used for the body tag. It offsets the page slightly from the top and the left corner of the browser itself and all browsers are slightly different. So if you want a consistent positioning, either left-to-right or top-to-bottom, a good idea is to go ahead and zero those out. So what I am going to do is go over to my CSS Styles and I am going to click the body tag.

It's the top-level tag and then I just want to create a rule close to that one. And I am going to choose New CSS Rule. Now here I am going to grab the Selector Type and choose Compound. Remember, Compound allows me to type in pretty much whatever I want. Here I am going to type in html,body. So that is a grouped selector and it's grouping both the HTML element selector and the body element selector. So why are we doing that? Well, it's interesting. Most browsers view the body tag as the parent tag but there are some browsers who view the HTML element as its top-level parent tag.

So in that case, we're going to go ahead and write a selector that applies to both of them. So no matter what browser we're in, we're zeroing out those default margins and padding. So I am going to go ahead and click OK, I am going to go to my Box category, and for padding I'll type in 0, Same for all, margin 0, Same for all, and I'm going to go ahead and click OK. Now notice what happens for our page layout. It aligns to the top of the document window and to the left of the document window, indicating that there are no default margins and padding affecting our page, perfect! Now, next thing we need to do is refine our body tag selector a little bit.

So I am going to go over to my CSS Styles panel, double-click the body tag and we're just going to make a couple of general changes here. Now the first thing I am going to do is go to my Box properties and here I am going to deselect Same for all for margin, but I am going to give this a top margin of 25 pixels. Now you would probably sit here wondering, wait a minute, I thought we just took the margin off of the body tag. Here you are, putting it right back again. Well, what we did with the previous rule is remove the default margins and padding. Now we're explicitly telling every single browser out there, we want our body tag to push everything down by about 25 pixels.

That's going to give us a little bit of space between the top of our page and the top of the browser window, and for the layout that we're doing that is exactly what we want. Next we're going to go to the Block category and we are going to do something that for some of you guys might be a little unexpected. We're going to change our Text-align property to Center and to which a lot of you might reply, what? Well, what's happening here is that we want our page layout centered on the page. Older versions of Internet Explorer have a little bit of a problem with the technique that we're going to use to do this.

To center our layout on the page, we're going to use auto margins on our wrapper div tag. Well since older versions of Internet Explorer have a harder time dealing with that, we use text-align center on the parent tag. That's going to move everything to the center of the page in those older versions of IE, but it has the downside of physically centering all of our text. So in another selector we are going to have to deal with that. One last thing here, we're going to change the background property for our body tag too. We want to display a background graphic. That's going to give the illusion of a gradient going from blue to sort of a sand color.

So we are going to change our Background-color to #e1d8b9, so e-1-d-8-b-9. If you hit Tab, you will see a sort of a light tan color there or maybe a little bit of a sand color. Now the Background-image we're going to put in, I am just going to browse for this and I am going to make sure I am in the 10_08 folder. I am going to go into _images directory and what I am looking for is this page_background.jpg, so you want to browse down and find page_background.jpg.

Now this is interesting. If we look at this in the little preview window over here, we can see that it is 1600 pixels tall but only 10 pixels wide. So it's a really small graphic but it's really big in terms of its height. Now how in the world is that going to give us the illusion that we have this sort of solid gradient going down the page? Well I'm going to click OK here, but then what I am going to do is for the background-repeat, I am going to grab the pulldown menu and choose repeat-x. That means instead of tiling this background graphic, which would be the default, it's only going to repeat it along the X-axis.

So it's going to repeat it over and over and over again horizontally, but not vertically. When we click OK, we can kind of see that in action. I am just kind of go ahead and scroll down the page. You can see the gradient and then it finally fades out to that sort of sand color. So no matter how tall the page gets, that sand color will sort of be there down at the bottom but as I scroll up, it will have that gradient fading into the blue. So it's kind of a nice way to achieve that effect. All right the next thing we need to do is center our page layout in the browser window. We're going to do that by taking advantage of the fact that our page layout has a wrapper div tag.

This wrapper becomes kind of the container for our entire page and is typically used to control the remainder of the layout. So I am going to go to the #wrapper right here, double-click that, and there are just a few changes we want to make here. Now the first thing that we're going to do is we're going to go down to the Box category. This is where we are going to make the majority of our changes here. Our width is 930 pixels and that's fine. We don't need to change that at all. What we are going to change is margin. So I am going to deselect Same for all and for the top margin and the bottom margin, I am going to type in 0. I don't want any additional margin there. However, for the right and left, I'm going to choose auto.

Now here's what that's going to do. Basically it's going to say hey, other than the 930 pixels that I need for my width, anything left over I want you to automatically split between the right and the left. So it will calculate the remaining value. It will put half of it on the left, half of it on the right. That's going to result in our wrapper centering the content right in the middle of the page. Now remember, we still have that sort of messy text-align center that we placed on the body. Well here's where we reset that. So I am going to go right to the Block category and I am going to choose text-align left.

That's going to reset basically all of our text alignment so that anything within our wrapper will be left aligned. I am going to click OK and there we go. The wrapper now centers within that page, our text-align is left and we're still focused at 930 pixels wide, perfect! Now the last thing we are going to do here before we tackle our two-column layout in the next movie is address our header. So our header needs to be positioned just up and to the right of the remainder of the page and this is where our logo is going to go. So we're going to use absolute positioning to do this.

Now if you remember from the Absolute Positioning movie, were we to use absolute positioning on the header right now, we wouldn't achieve our desired result. The reason for that is because the wrapper div tag doesn't have a position attribute, so it'd use the body tag to determine where it should appear in our browser window. Well we need to change that. So let's go back to our wrapper one more time. We're going to go down to Positioning, and we are going to choose position relative. Now I know plenty of people who just do this automatically. Anytime they have a container or a wrapper div tag, regardless of whether they are at that time planning on doing any positioning inside of it, they will just go ahead and give it a position relative anyway.

The lot of times it will fix some of those Internet Explorer bugs caused by the hasLayout problem, and they also go ahead and give you the foundation of saying "anything that you position inside of me will be relative to me and not the body tag." So now we are going to go ahead and click OK and we won't really see any visual change there. Well next, let's go ahead and finish up by positioning our header. I am going to double-click the header selector and the first thing we are going to do now is go down to the Positioning category. Well, here we need to change this to position absolute. Our width and our height are fine so we don't need to change that, but we are going to be doing some offsets here.

Our top offset is going to be -25 px. Now if you remembered earlier we applied 25 pixels worth of margin to our body. So essentially what we're saying here is we want our header to move back up and align with the very top of the browser window. We're also going to give it a left offset of 35 pixels. That's going to push it 35 pixels over to the right of the edge of our wrapper div tag. Now that's really all we need to do here but while we're at it, why don't we go ahead and place our background -image inside of our header? We can certainly place an image tag in here but this is purely for visual reasons.

There is no reason for us to pass the picture of our logo to any type of screen reader or any other user agent. So let's go ahead and use a background-image here. So I am going to go to Background. I am going to delete the existing background-color and then I am going to browse for our background-image. Now I want to go in the 10_08_ images directory and find the logo.gif. Notice that it is a 192 pixels wide, 237 pixels tall. That is the exact same measurement that we gave to this div tag. So it's going to give it enough space to display the entire logo.

I am going to click OK and just as we did with the page's background-image, we're going to control how this background-image repeats. However unlike the page's background- image, we don't want any tiling at all. We only want this logo to show up once. So for background-repeat, I am going to go ahead and choose no-repeat. Now it says only show this once and don't tile it ever again. We will click OK. Well, the majority of our layout styles are now finished. We're removing the default page margins that might affect our layout, using the wrapper div tag to define the width of the page and center our content on the page, and we're using absolute positioning to style our header and place our logo visually on the page.

Next, we will need to finish our layout by creating two columns through floating and we'll tackle that in our next movie.

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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