Your place on the Internet

What is HTML?

by Roger

What goes on behind the scenes of a website – the source code – can, to the untrained eye, seem daunting. Possess rudimentary knowledge of the language used, however, and the jargon becomes much easier to interpret. In this segment, we are covering HTML, one of the most common scripting languages used by web developers.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a widely-used client-side language used as a first point of access for new learners. The international organization World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the language. As such, it is routinely updated based on the needs of the online community.

Each part of the name is related to the way the code works:

HyperText – text (hyperlinks) that connect to other areas of the web; hyper means non-linear, in reference to how someone browses the web.

Markup – a symbol or character in a file that signifies how certain text should appear when displayed; called tags, marking text as bold, italicized, underlined, etc.

Language – HTML is a client-side language; the initial learning process can be frustrating for those who struggle to learn the code words and syntax.

How does it work?

The process of creating an HTML page can be explained rather simply. Coded text is written by the site author and saved as an HTML file. The file is then accessed by a web browser application (e.g. Internet Explorer). Once the file is read by the browser, the code is visually rendered to present the author’s web page. The success of a page depends on correct coding by the author.

What can you do with HTML?

The language allows you to dictate how the content of a web page is interpreted by computers and, in turn, how it is perceived by humans. Structure is established with the insertion of headings, blocks of text, photos, lists, tables, and quotations. Text can be bolded, italicized, highlighted, underlined, and struck out. Hyperlinks and interactive form elements can be set up, and external applications (e.g. video and sound clips) included. Good formatting is one of the strongest qualities guaranteed by HTML, but really, developers using this language have endless possibilities at their fingertips.