Thursday, 10 February 2011

Get started in HyperText Markup Language and Cascading Style Sheets with Multimedia Journalism's latest masterclass

In MMJ Masterclass 21: Getting Started in HTML and CSS  we’re going to give you 10 projects to complete
Get through them and you’ll have a good understanding of what HyperText Markup Langauage and Cascading Style Sheets are; and how to use them to create, mark up and style web pages

First, let's take a quick look at what HTML code is

If you right click on any web page you’ll see among the options presented: View Source or View Page Source
Select this option and a box will open with a load of code in it.
That is the code behind the page you are viewing: all the hidden instructions for how the page should look.

If you scan through it, you’ll probably see some mentions of HTML – which is HyperText Markup Language, and, some of CSS which stands for Cascading Style Sheets, and others including perhaps Java and Flash.
We don’t focus on such code much in MMJ for one good reason: most journalists never need to know it.
As you’ll have discovered if you have spent some time on MMJ, particularly the chapters on building websites and newsletters, and the masterclasses on building hyperlocal sites, mobile sites and smartphone apps, you’ll have seen that these days you can do almost everything you want to, create all sorts of websites, apps and other stuff, without knowing anything about code.
Your content management system writes the code for you, as you create your content. You drive the car, and stuff goes on under the bonnet that you don’t necessary need to understand or know anything about.
But for some journalism jobs it is useful – particularly now that, the more skills you have, the more valuable you are to an employer who is looking to save money, and cut posts, wherever they can.
Some employers expect you to understand HTML and to be comfortable with using it – at least in a very basic way – if they are to employ you.
So, because MMJ seeks to be the complete practical guide for the multimedia journalist and journalism student, it would be remiss to ignore the subject.
It’s as well to know, at the very lest, what HTML is, what it does, and the basics of how to use it. The same goes for CSS, Cascading Style Sheets, which are what you use to style your HTML files.
If it’s the difference between getting a job you want and not getting it, then it’s worth knowing.
So the aim of this masterclass is to introduce you to the basics, in a series of 10 projects that will help you build your ability to put HTML and CSS into practice. So this is a beginner’s guide, and as such it fit in to the basic level of study at MMJ, the one called Getting Started in the book and the companion website.
Once you're done, if any employer or potential employer asks you if you know HTML and CSS you’ll be able to say you have a reasonable basic knowledge – enough to enable you to code text for web pages, and apply style style sheets to them.
It won’t teach you everything, not by any means, but we will return to the subject in future masterclasses, and let you build on what you have learned here.

Next: An introduction to HTML (Going live on Saturday)

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