Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Understanding class selectors


Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

with James Williamson

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Video: Understanding class selectors

If you're used to using Word, InDesign or Quark to create styles, you are going to be really familiar with the concept of using Class Styles. Class selectors allow you to create a style with any name that you want. Any element that has that name as a class attribute is then styled with that formatting. The pros of using class selectors are that you can use them as often as you need, as many times as you need them, on any given page. The downside is that you have to apply them manually, so they take a little bit more effort to apply at first, when compared to element selectors.
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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

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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

Understanding class selectors

If you're used to using Word, InDesign or Quark to create styles, you are going to be really familiar with the concept of using Class Styles. Class selectors allow you to create a style with any name that you want. Any element that has that name as a class attribute is then styled with that formatting. The pros of using class selectors are that you can use them as often as you need, as many times as you need them, on any given page. The downside is that you have to apply them manually, so they take a little bit more effort to apply at first, when compared to element selectors.

Usually, when most graphic designers begin working in Web design, this is the type of selector they most often turn to to achieve targeted formatting. You need to be careful when using class selections, however. Often, designers will use them simply because they don't know of another, and usually more efficient, way to achieve the desired styling. This can cause an overabundance of class attributes in your code that don't really have any identifiable logic to them. So here we have the class selectors.htm, from 06_09 folder opened up. And there are a couple of things on the page that it's telling me it wants to do.

For example, this paragraph right here says, "This is also a paragraph, but I want it to look different than the other two." We will have to see how we can do that. Well, class selectors are an excellent way of doing that. And the paragraph right below it says "This is another paragraph, and I want it "to look as same as all my other paragraphs, but I want the word "alone" to look a little different." So we are going to figure out how to do that as well. Well, let's target our paragraph first. Now again, class selectors are kind of a two-part process: You create the class selector, and then you apply it.

So I am going to right over to my CSS Styles panel. I am going to click to create a New CSS Rule. And this time, from the Selector Type, I am going to choose Class. And if Class didn't come up automatically, you can just grab the pulldown menu and choose it. It's the first option there. Okay, so now we need to create our Selector Name. Now before, when we were creating Element selectors, we had a pulldown menu that we could choose from. But now that pulldown menu doesn't do anything for us. The reason for that, our class names are defined by you. You come up with them. So I want to create a class called greenText.

That's fairly descriptive. So I am going to type in .greenText, okay. So let's talk about the naming conventions of class selectors. First, class selectors need to start with this period right there. Please don't forget that. If you forget it, Dreamweaver will often save you a little bit by going ahead and placing it there for you. But you do not want to get in the habit of doing that, because if you began to hand-code your text, and you leave it off, well, you just don't have a selector at all.

So remember, class selectors start with that period. The next thing that you are going to is make sure that your names don't have any spaces in them. You can use underscores. You can use numbers, but you don't want to start off with the number. But avoid punctuation. Basically, just follow your standard naming conventions, no spaces. Don't use any punctuation. And you can either use CamelCase naming, which I have named here, lowercased g uppercase T, or underscores. Now again, I am going to apply this rule to this document only, and I am just going to go ahead and click OK. I am going to change my Font-size to 1 em.

And then I am going to change my Color to a green. And the easiest green for me is just #060. If you type in some hexidecimal values and hit tab, you can see the color that you are going to get. You may be wondering why I am using like three characters, because if you peruse through the Swatch panel that they give us, we get three characters, but often you are going to see hexadecimal values represented as six characters, so what gives there? While these three characters, 060, is exactly the same as 006600.

So it's just a way of short handing those hexadecimal values, if you're working with similar pairs. You can just type in 060 to represent those pairs. Okay, so I am going to go ahead and click OK, and nothing on my page changes. Well, remember, class selectors are two part process. In the first part, you create the selector, second part you apply it. So let's take a look at how we can do that. So I am going to go ahead and select that paragraph that says, "This is also a paragraph, but I want it to look different than the other two." Just clicking in it will focus on that element, but if you want to be absolutely sure that you have selected the paragraph, use the Tag Selector.

Remember, the Tag Selector can be found right down here below the Document Window. Hover over your paragraph and click once. All of your text will highlight, but more importantly, you've selected the actual tag itself. Okay, now I an actually going to switch over to my HTML Properties. That may seem a little weird to you, like why are we switching to that? Well, because the class attribute is actually an HTML Property. You are going to see, as soon as we apply this and when we look at the code, that what's going to happen is our paragraph is now going to have a class attribute. The value of that will match what you have in your styles, and that's what's going to give your styling.

So for my Class pulldown menu here, I am going to grab that, and the only thing that I see is the only class that we have created so far, greenText. So I am going to go ahead and create that. So you can see this paragraph is a little larger than the other ones, but it's also greenText. So now it looks totally different from the rest of the paragraphs, and that's all due to the class that we've applied to it. Now let's take a look at code to see exactly what happened. I am going to switch to a Split Screen View. And here I can see my Source Code and right there is my paragraph, and right there is the class attribute.

So that's how your browser is going to know which class selector you are wanting to apply there, so in that case, greenText. Now let's do this one more time so that we can see a slightly different way to apply styles. I am going to go ahead and create another New CSS Rule. Again, I am going to do a Class, and this time I am going to do .highlight. So .highlight, all one word, make sure it's This document only. And by the way, there is no space between the dot and the selector name. So .highlight is all one word. We're going to go ahead and click OK.

And here, I'm really going to change some things up. And feel free to play around with these Styles. If you want to experiment with the Property to see what's it going to do, no harm, no foul. You're not to break anything. Just go in there and have a little bit of fun. I am going to change Font-style to Italic. I am going to set Color to #000, which is black. And then I am going to switch over to the Background category. So in my Background category, I am going to choose a Background-color of #FF0, and that's yellow.

So this is going to put yellow background behind that text to make it look like it has been highlighted. We are going to put a little bit of padding, so that we have a little bit of space all around our text as well. So I am going to go down to the Box category on the left-hand side there. And for Padding, I am going to turn off Same for all. I am going to do 2 pixels of Padding to the Top and to the Bottom, and 5 pixels of padding to the right and to the Left, so 2/5 2/5. All right. Again, I am going to click OK, and once again, as we have mentioned before, nothing changes. And that's, of course, because we have to apply the Class.

Now before, we want to do it to an entire paragraph. Well, those are pretty easy. We just take the paragraph tag, and we apply a class attribute to it. But what about this word? This word, this word "alone." It's all by itself. It's actually part of the paragraph. So if we apply the Class highlight to that paragraph, the entire paragraph will get highlighted. So how can we choose just that one word and apply that class? Well, let's see. If I go down to my Properties Inspector - and once again, I'm looking at my HTML Properties - I can now grab on the pulldown menu for Class and choose highlight.

Now if I deselect that, I can see that it worked. Our word "alone" is no highlighted with a yellow highlight color. It's italicized and black. So we were entirely successful, but what happened behind the scenes? Well again, I am going to switch over to Code View, and I can see that that word "alone" was surrounded by a span tag. Now spans are generic inline-level tags. Browsers don't render them at all, but what they allow us to do is surround words, individual characters or entire passages and then use the Class or ID attribute to set that word apart, and say that there is something special about it.

In this case, we apply the Class attribute highlight to it. So as you can see, Class Styles are great for targeting specific instances of styling and addressing them. Now as I previously mentioned, and this is really important, you want to be careful about overusing Classes. Classes should be used either when no other means of styling the text exists or when the Class attribute is being used to add a meaningful name to the element. So learning how to target styles through descendant selectors - that we are going to cover in just a little bit - and ID selectors will be extremely helpful in making sure that you're not using, or overusing, your class selectors.

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 W3.org 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 http://html5doctor.com/the-figure-figcaption-elements/.
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