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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.
An alternate way for you to display images on your pages is through the use of CSS Background Images. Every single element on your page has the ability to display a background color or image, or both if you prefer. Now this allows you to display images on the page without using an image tag and creates the opportunity for presentation only images. Now this allows you to use images for your design without cluttering up your HTML with unnecessary image tags. In this example, we will apply a background image to the body tag to give our page a little bit more visual kick, add the Explore California logo and give our list some custom bullets and if we're looking at this page, and I have the resources.htm page open, it lacks some of the visual kick that maybe our other pages have had.
Now not all the background graphics had been removed from the page but most of them have, so our image or logo that we're just seeing here, the gradient in the background is not here anymore. We're missing our links. We're missing a few things here. So what we're going to do now is we're going to go into our CSS, explore the background image property and set some of the background images for a few of these elements. Now, the first rule we want to do is our body tag. The body tag is the top most parent element and a very common technique among Web designers is to use background images to sort of create an interesting visual background for the entire page, and that's really what we're going to be doing here.
So I want to go over my CSS Styles panel, and I want to find my body tag right there. Just go ahead and double-click that. That's going to open up the CSS Rule Definition dialog box, and I want to switch from our categories from Type to the Background category. So here can see where we can establish a background color, or in the case of what we need it to do, browse to find a background image, so I'm going to go ahead and click browse, and we want to browse to the 08_11 > _images directory. Now here I'm going to switch my view to detail so I can quickly jump down to what I need to find here, and I'm going to scroll down into my graphics until I find this one right here, page_background.jpg.
Now if you select that and look over to the right-hand side, you'll see something pretty interesting about this graphic. It's very narrow. It's only 10 pixels wide, but it's 1600 pixels tall. So that's kind of curious. How is that one graphic going to give us a background for our entire page. Well let's check this out. Go ahead, and click OK, and notice that we have some other options down here for customizing what happens with those background graphics. For example, one of the options is Background-repeat. Now by default, background images just tile over and over and over and over again, right on top of each other they go from left to right, top to bottom, and that's been responsible for some really bad page designs in the past, but you can also use that to your advantage.
Because notice I can grab the pulldown menu. I can tell this graphic, "Hey "you shouldn't repeat. "You should only show up one time. Go ahead and repeat. That's what I want you to do," or repeat only along one axis. So I could have it repeated along the x axis, which would just repeat it horizontally, or it could repeat it along the y axis, which would repeat it vertically. Now, remember from looking at that thumbnail that this is a very thin image but very long. So if we repeat this along its x axis its just going to show up over and over and over again and since it's going to seamlessly blend together, it's going to give the illusion - and I'm just going to go ahead and click OK - of a single gradient in the background when in fact, all that is is just that graphic repeating over and over again.
Now, you may have noticed something else about this too, that after certain amount of scrolling that graphic kind of goes away, and I'm left with sort of a white background color. Well that's another thing that we can do for this body tag, so I'm going to double-click that, so re-open that selector. Go back to background, and in addition to having a background image, you can also have a background color. So I'm going to click right there for background color, and I'm going to type in #e1d8b9. If you hit Tab, you'll see that its kind of that sand color, and now when I click OK, this time when I scroll down, instead of seeing the bottom of that graphic because the bottom of the graphic and that sand color are the same, it's a nice seamless merging between the background image and the background color.
So those two things can be used in conjunction with each other to form some pretty compelling effects. Well, we need get our logo on the page, and our logo is going to go right here in this header region, so what I want to do now is go over to my CSS Styles panel, scroll down and find the header region. There it is. Double-click that and go to my Background property. Once again, I need to browse to find an image, and in this case, I want to find the logo graphc, so I'm going to scroll down until I find logo.gif. You can see the Image preview right here. Perfect! We'd go ahead and click OK. Now in this particular instance, I don't want that to repeat at all.
I don't want to ever see more than just one of these graphics, so what I'm going to do now is for my Background- repeat, I'm going to tell it no-repeat. Now I also want to point out something out that's very important about this. So if you want to see the entire image, you need set both a width and a height for that as well. Now that is already been done on this rule, and I'll show you that just in a moment. So I am going to go ahead and click OK. Notice that we're just seeing one copy of the logo showing up in that space. Just to show you that whole width and height property that I was talking about, I'm going to bring up my code navigator, and I want you to notice that right up here for this particular header selector, I have a width of 192, and I have a height of 237.
Not by coincidence, that is the exact same size as my image. So that's why we're seeing the entire graphic, and it fits in there very, very nicely. Now, I'm going to scroll down a little bit further, and I want to show you this list we've got down here. So this is a bulleted or unordered list, but you may notice that we are not seeing any bullets. The reason for that is, in one of the other selectors, we're setting the list Style property of our URL to none. That tells any browser or user agent: Don't display numbers or bullets depending upon what type of list this is.
This is a really easy way for you to do custom bullets for your lists. You can tell the list not to display as a list, and then you can use a background graphic for the individual list items and use that as a bullet. So that's what we're going to do here. So what I want to do is go over to CSS Styles, scroll down a little bit, and I want to find the #mainContent # mainArticle li. Go ahead and double-click that and once again, go to your Background property. Here I'm going to browse for a background image.
I'll go into our images directory again, and what I'm looking for here is the star_bullet.gif, and you'll notice that this is a very small graphic, 16x16 pixels, and it's very, very subtle it's just that little star. Anytime that you're going to do custom bullets, my advice to you is to keep them small and to keep them simple. Most of the times when I see them and they weren't executed properly, the bullets themselves were either too large or somebody tried to put too complex of a graphic there. So I'm going to go ahead and click OK. We have some very important choices to make here.
Number one, we don't want to see those stars repeating all the way through our list item. We only want to see it on the left-hand side. So I'm just going to tell Background-repeat no-repeat. That is only going to show one star and then click OK. There is our stars. Now the reason that the stars aren't showing up underneath the text, you might be wondering about that. I want to go ahead and point out the reason for that. The reason for that is there are 24 pixels worth of padding on the left-hand side that's keeping the text away from the edge of the element, so if I turn on my CSS Inspect feature, which we'll learn a little bit more about later on, when I browse over these, you can see that that sort of purple magenta area right there, that's the padding giving enough space between the edge of the list item and the text so that the graphic can display.
If that padding was not there, the H and the A and the D, all those first letters would be showing up right on top of that star. Okay, so in just three short additions through our CSS, we have made a dramatic impact. All without modifying the original HTML of our file at all, or using any image tags. Background images can add a lot to your site's Visual design without adding additional weight to your HTML code. Now often, I'm asked the question of when you should use a background image versus adding an image tag to the page.
Well, my answer to that is that, for me if the image needs to be encountered by other user agents or Alt text needs to be passed on for that image, well I'll go ahead and use an Image tag. Otherwise, almost all of the other images on my pages are displayed using CSS Background Images. For every rule, there is an exception, and I've tried to define clear-cut rules for background images at the start of building my sites. Now we're almost done with our background images, but in our next movie, I want to explore using the positioning attribute of background images to further enhance the design.
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