HTML + CSS

reading

Web pages are written in a combination of HTML as CSS. The basic division is that:

  • HTML provides the content and structure

  • CSS provides the style

We don’t have time to dive deep into how to write a modern webpage, but we can look at some of the concepts.

Note

Our goal here is to learn how to write a basic webpage describing our codes. We are not going to be able to cover web design deeply, but hopefully we’ll learn enough so that we can use templates that others have written to write our own pages.

Basic HTML structure

A basic HTML page has the following format:

Listing 79 index.html
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">

<head>
    <title>Hello</title>
    <meta charset="utf-8" />
</head>

<body>

Hello, World!

<body>
</html>

Some comments:

  • HTML tags need to be opened and closed to denote a block in which they apply. For instance: <body> opens the main body of the page and </body> closes the main body of the page.

  • Some tags are self-closing, and we end with />, for instance in above: <meta charset="utf-8" />

  • The name index.html is commonly used to indicate the first page of a website. Many web-servers will automatically display this page when we go to a web site.

  • We can open this page in our browser as:

    google-chrome index.html
    

    or

    firefox index.html
    

Tip

A good reference on the different tags is provided by https://www.w3schools.com/tags/default.asp

Separating content

HTML using headings to break the content of a page into sections. The headings are indicated by <h1> ... </h1> down through <h6> ... </h6>.

We can also denote paragraphs by wrapping them in <p> ... </p>.

Here’s an example:

Listing 80 index.html
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">

<head>
    <title>Hello</title>
    <meta charset="utf-8" />
</head>

<body>

<h1>PHY 504: Introduction to Computing in Physics and Astronomy I</h1>
<h2>Spring 2022</h2>

<p>Hello, World!</p>

<body>
</html>

Adding CSS

CSS means cascading style sheets. CSS files provide a set of styling rules for different HTML elements. “Cascading” here means that the rules on a element have a hierarchy that is followed if more than one rule tries to modify an element.

Typically we provide the styles in a separate file with the .css extension.

For example, we can style the body of our page with a stylesheet:

Listing 81 style.css
body {color: orange;}

and then add the line:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css" />

to the <head> .. </head> block in our HTML file to load this sheet.

divs

A useful HTML element for grouping styles is the div tag, <div>. We can put any content in a <div> ... </div> region and specify the styling for that region using.

HTML elements (including divs) can have either a class name or and id selector:

  • <div id="name"> is used to indicate that there is a single instance of name in the HTML page. This is called an id-selector Elements in this div can be styled as:

    #name {}
    
  • <div class="name"> is used when we might want to have multiple divs on the page with the same styling. This is called a class selector and we style as:

    .name {}
    

try it…

Let’s wrap our “Hello World” in a div and try to style it:

Listing 82 index.html
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">

<head>
    <title>Hello</title>
    <meta charset="utf-8" />
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css" />
</head>

<body>

<div id="container">
Hello, World!
</div>

<body>

</html>

In particular, create a rule:

#container {}

and let’s try to do the following:

  • make the width only 80% of the page

  • add some padding (this applies inside the div between the div and the content)

  • use margins (these apply outside the div, between the div and the outer element) to give the content a max-width

  • change the background color of the div region

  • add a border

Inspector

Most web browsers have an inspector that let’s you look at the styling on a page. In Chrome, you open the inspector by doing “F12”.

We can see what styling is taking effect on the different elements and also adjust the styling right in the browser to see how it takes effect.

Images

Images in HTML are included via the <img> tag. Here’s an example image:

_images/luna_bw.png

Fig. 13 luna_bw.png

We would include this as:

<p class="center"><img src="luna_bw.png" alt="picture of luna"></p>

Here, <p> ... </p> denotes a paragraph

and we could style it via:

.center {text-align: center;}

Tip

Accessibility is an important design consideration when making web pages, and you should use the alt tag to provide a text alternative to the image for screen readers.

Responsive pages

A responsive page changes the styling based on the device / screen size. Usually this is triggered by the @media rule: https://www.w3schools.com/cssref/css3_pr_mediaquery.asp

Tip

Instead of writing your own page from scratch, start with a template from a site like: https://html5up.net/