We wrote this book for anyone interested in learning and using the language of the Web, from the most casual user to the full-time design professional. We don't expect you to have any experience in HTML or XHTML before picking up this book. In fact, we don't even expect that you've ever browsed the Web, although we'd be very surprised if you haven't. Being connected to the Internet is not strictly necessary to use this book, but if you're not connected, this book becomes like a travel guide for the homebound.
The only things we ask you to have are a computer, a text editor that can create simple ASCII text files, and copies of the latest leading web browsers -- preferably Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. Because HTML and XHTML documents are stored in a universally accepted format -- ASCII text -- and because the languages are completely independent of any specific computer, we won't even make an assumption about the kind of computer you're using. However, browsers do vary by platform and operating system, which means that your HTML or XHTML documents can look quite different depending on the computer and browser version. We explain how the various browsers use certain language features, paying particular attention to how they are different.
If you are new to HTML, the Web, or hypertext documentation in general, you should start by reading Chapter 1. In it, we describe how all these technologies come together to create webs of interrelated documents.
If you are already familiar with the Web, but not with HTML or XHTML specifically, start by reading Chapter 2. This chapter is a brief overview of the most important features of the language and serves as a roadmap to how we approach the language in the remainder of the book.
Subsequent chapters deal with specific language features in a roughly top-down approach to HTML and XHTML. Read them in order for a complete tour through the language, or jump around to find the exact feature you're interested in.