HTML - Introduction

All websites use some form of programming language. It is not possible to write a document in a word processor and just upload it to the internet for reading. In fact, today, internet languages include html, php, asp and cgi, although pure html is not used as often as it was in the infancy of the internet. But html is still found within the composition of pages and is mixed with other codes.

Specifically, HTML means "hyper text markup language". It converts or translates your text into a document that can be read in a standardized fashion by browsers, search engines, and other internet related entities. The "tags" characterized by opening and closing, pointed brackets (<>) give the instructions to the browsers (Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, Opera) on how to display the information to the end user. Everything about the web page is clearly documented including where paragraphs start and end, what color the text should be, what color the links are, whether the active links and visited links should have a different color, whether text should be bold or not, the size of the font, what font should be used (remembering that not all fonts are common to each computer), whether the information should be treated as a list or sentence, where graphics should be placed, and what size they should appear.


Further, not only does html tell browsers about a webpage, it also gives instructions to search engines. At the top of the page inside the coding, "meta tags" determine what keywords the search engines see and what titles are given to a specific page. This helps the search engines to understand what the page is about and ultimately add it to its search results. Additionally, title tags for links and graphics not only help to make a website search engine friendly but, it is also considered the standard way to make information accessible to disabled users.

As the internet became bigger, and more people where involved with developing websites and trying to publish their information, html became cumbersome. It was time consuming and sometimes confusing to manage large amounts of data. It was quite tedious to make additions to websites and thus, faster languages and utilities were developed. Today, smaller websites are still built in html because there is plenty of merit in an html-driven site, but any site that requires updating regularly, is expected to hold large amounts of data, or is usable by both the owner and her customers or visitors, then html in combination with php or cgi will be used. Both of these languages allow information to be stored and quickly retrieved or displayed upon request. The end user only needs to see the information that she requested as opposed to html which keeps all info viewable at all times, thus the term "static website".

Even the styling or design of a website has been taken over by a more efficient process called Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). It is cleaner than html and easier since only one sheet is required to give all the "appearance" instructions to the browsers.

Finally, you will see many html web pages named "htm". It was common in the days of DOS where only three characters could be used. You will also see "shtml" which allows calling another extension within an html document, and "xhtml" which has resulted due to the evolution of html.

We have some basic HTML tutorials here - but we also have some information on software that can help you save plenty of time taking the actual writing of HTML pages out of your hands.

Software that can save you time

Some of these pieces of software are great great help and will make website making life a whole lot easier for you. They're called WYSIWYG editors, and are great! We've listed some of our favorites below:

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