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Wrox has published what looks at first glance an excelent book.

Here is a sample chapter for you to judge for yourself.

Wrox provides a forum for discussion on this book

Interview with Dan Maharry

So a little about you. Have you always been interested in the web?

Depends on what you mean by always. The computer clusters at University in my first year (1993) were all running Mosaic 0.9 then over some comparatively slow connection and after figuring out what I could do as a surfer, I sorta dropped into figuring out the HTML thing as well.

How did you come to co-write some of this book?

Well after university, I started working with Wrox as a technical editor. Coincidentally, the previous version of HTML Programmers Reference was the first book I edited for Wrox, back in late 1997. Since then I've edited over a dozen books, co-written two, and worked in India for six months to establish an editorial office over there. I originally wrote an outline for a new HTML book as something the Indian office might start out on, but the UK took it up first, batted it around internally with me and Chris Ullman et voila!

What did you think of your experience in front of the camera so to speak instead of in the editing suite?

It certainly gives you a new perspective on things that's for sure. The main difference is that you are working on a totally blank canvas as opposed to reworking something (however bad) that's already there. You define what you are going to cover and what you aren't. Still, this wasn't the first time I've written for Wrox so it's not all that scary. I'll be writing a lot more often now as well in the new Early Adopter book series as well.

Does the new book meet your expectations?

I have to say that this book is probably the thing I'm most proud of since coming to work for Wrox. It's very close to what I originally envisioned in the early outlines and to see it on the desk is hugely gratifying.

Isn't the timing a little odd for this new edition? It's not as though HTML is changing fast at the moment. Is HTML even relevant any more?

Daft question. Ask the millions of home users who each have their own home page on the various servers around the world. HTML will always be relevant - there's so much of it on the web, it couldn't ever be replaced and it represents one of the easiest ways to introduce programming (of a kind) to the masses.

As to the timing. It's not exactly the timing of the book that matters, it's the weight of information that the previous version doesn't contain; the addenda to HTML itself, CSS-2 and -3, the web accessibility initiative, the W3C standards which represent the evolution of HTML into the grander scheme of things. We've also seen IE5.x released and Mozilla grow and IE6 is almost ready to appear as well. MS always need to add things to the HTML standard so both they and the cross-browser issues need updating once again as well.

Fortunately, the book covers it all. Probably the only thing it doesn't cover are the WYSIWYG tools like Dreamweaver and Homesite.

Do you think it's important for HTML browsers to stick to the standards?

Definitely. The most howls I hear are the frustrated cries of people who find their pages look nice in IE but really don't in Netscape and vice versa. I agree for the most part with the Web Standards Project in their effort to get everyone browsing with a standards-compliant browser so you can assume a few things when you're designing your website. Beyond that, if the Internet Explorer team want to add on many bells and whistles, that's fine by me as long as they do the basics right.

What are your views on the new release of Opera / IE6 / Mozilla?

Mozilla has the potential to be great. There was a significant improvement in performance with the release of 0.9.1 which helped a lot, but there are still quite a few noticeable annoyances in the just the GUI which mean that it's not the great browsing experience it should be yet. If they can get them fixed, it'll be great.

IE6 from a browsing point of view is much of a muchness, but most of the new stuff is under the hood - XML, XHTML and so on - which is interesting as well, but part of a different conversation.

Lastly, Opera is a great little browser, but if we're talking lightweight, fast browsers, I'd rather use Galeon or KMeleon which are exceedingly speedy indeed.

What other technologies are currently capturing your interest?

My next project is on Curl, the new language from the creator of HTML. It does what HTML does and then a bit more, and then does it all faster and a lot better. I'm not sure if it will take off - it certainly has a few more curly braces in it - but it's definitely worth a look. Aside from that, I'm just taking a broad view of everything. Microsoft's SharePoint and Hailstorm technologies are quite interesting as well.

What do you do in your spare time and what is that bio about?

Well the bio pretty much sums up my spare time at the moment - music and films and then some noodling about on my comp. I guess I'm also counting down to the release of the X-box as well. As for the last dedication, well I forgot to say thanks at Xmas.

And finally, who would be your guests at a fantasy dinner party? Would anyone from the computer world figure in your plans?

I've actually spoken with most of the people whose work I admire in my previous job as a music and film journalist, but of those remaining, I'd just like to sit and talk a day away with Stanley Kubrick. Dinner would be optional.




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