It is assumed that as well as knowing at least the basics of HTML you are able to create an HTML fi le as a plain text fi le. There are two main ways of doing this. The fi rst and most obvious is just to type the HTML code line-by-line into a text editor such as WordPad and then save it as a text fi le. The second is to use a visual authoring tool such as Dreamweaver, which enables you to indicate passages of bold, italic, etc. using a mouse in the same way as with a word processor and then save your work in the form of an HTML text fi le with the correct HTML mark up tags, <b> for 'start bold', </b> for 'end bold', etc., inserted for you.
For HTML fi les that are more than trivial, for example anything involving tables (writing the code for which is tedious and error-prone in HTML), the latter approach is strongly recommended. If you are familiar with that approach and would prefer not to have to learn much about the minutiae of HTML, the good news is that a little nowledge will go a long way. You can create a very complex HTML fi le using a visual authoring tool, perhaps one involving multiple fonts, colours, tables, images, etc. and then add special – but crucial – effects such as reading client information from a database, just by making a small PHP insertion into your HTML code at the right place. You just need to know enough HTML to locate that place; there is no need to know what all the rest of the HTML means in detail. The examples in this book will make it clear how this is done.