Introduction to HTML

What is HTML?

  • HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language
  • Hyper is the opposite of linear. It used to be that computer programs had to move in a linear fashion. This before this, this before this, and so on. HTML does not hold to that pattern and allows the person viewing the World Wide Web page to go anywhere, any time they want.
  • Text is what you will use. English letters, just like you use everyday.
  • Markup is what you will do. You will write in plain English and then mark up what you wrote.
  • Language. Some may argue that technically html is a code, but you write html in plain, everyday English language.

Definition

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the set of markup symbols or codes inserted in a file intended for display on a World Wide Web browser page. The markup tells the Web browser how to display a Web page’s words and images for the user. Each individual markup code is referred to as an element (but many people also refer to it as a tag). Some elements come in pairs that indicate when some display effect is to begin and when it is to end.

HTML is a formal Recommendation by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and is generally adhered to by the major browsers, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Netscape’s Navigator, which also provide some additional non-standard codes. The current version of HTML is HTML 4.0. However, both Internet Explorer and Netscape implement some features differently and provide non-standard extensions. Web developers using the more advanced features of HTML 4 may have to design pages for both browsers and send out the appropriate version to a user. Significant features in HTML 4 are sometimes described in general as dynamic HTML. What is sometimes referred to as HTML 5 is an extensible form of HTML called Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML).


7 Benefits of HTML validation

1. Web Site Accessibility – validating your html code helps to pinpoint areas of potential blockage that could prevent search engine spiders or visitors from accessing your website. When you run your site through a code validator it may produce many errors that need to be corrected so your pages will render well. ie include text with your “alt” tags for every < img > tag.

Why should you do this?

-Allows your site to be accessible to a larger audience (vision impaired, motor skill impaired, cognitive impaired)

-Allows your site to be accessed by wider range of devices (hand helds, screen readers, text browsers, search engines)

-Is a requirement for Federal and State Government sites

2. Search engine friendly pages – clean and simple code enables search engines to spider your pages more quickly and completely.

Here’s an example:

What’s wrong with this code?

< p keyword1 sentence, well written copy, etc.

< p > keyword2 paragraph with more choice content.

This code is missing a “>” The issue is not that the page will necessarily get skipped altogether but that the “keyword1” sentence looks like part of the tag – like a tag attribute. So the words in the “keyword1” sentence probably won’t be included in the search engines computations, even though the page itself will be indexed.

Once a spider sees a correct tag further along in the page, then it’s back on course. So, the keyword2 paragraph would make it.

3. Faster Loading – if your web page contains html errors it will take a longer time for the search engines to spider it, therefore slowing the loading time. If your page
doesn’t load in under 10 seconds your visitors will click away to your competitors’ sites.

4. Less load on servers – clean and simple code won’t tax your server as much as a site which has complicated code or contain many nested tables. Cascading style sheets (CSS) will greatly reduce the amount of code within your web pages. This will also cut down on the amount of web space and bandwidth used thus saving you money for hosting your site.

5. Easier to update and maintain web site – with no mistakes in your html code it is easier and faster to make changes to your web pages. For web site designers, this means you will save time and money when maintaining clients’ sites.

6. Browser compatibility – validated code ensures your site is compatible with the current browsers and future browsers. You might say “well, it looks fine in Internet Explorer, so why bother with any other browsers?” Current browsers will continue to update their rules and future browsers will make sure they are html compliant.

7. Access more visitors – if you ensure your web pages appear correctly in all the major browsers you will be able to reach a larger audience which then increases the potential of your site to make more sales.


HTM or HTML Extension?

When you save an HTML file, you can use either the .htm or the .html extension. We have used .htm in our examples. It might be a bad habit inherited from the past when some of the commonly used software only allowed three letter extensions.

With newer software we think it will be perfectly safe to use .html.


Note on HTML Editors:

You can easily edit HTML files using a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor like FrontPage or Dreamweaver, instead of writing your markup tags in a plain text file.

However, if you want to be a skillful Web developer, we strongly recommend that you use a plain text editor to learn your primer HTML.

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