What is HTML?At its most fundamental, Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a set of special codes that you embed in text to add formatting and linking information. HTML is based on Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). By convention, all HTML information begins with an open angle bracket (<) and ends with a closing angle bracket (>), for example, <html>.
This tag tells an HTML interpreter (browser) that the document is written and marked up in standard HTML. An example of an HTML interpreter would be Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, available for free from the Microsoft Web site; pop over to www.microsoft.com/ie/ to get your copy.
Although a small number of HTML tags are stand-alone entities, the majority are paired, with beginning and end tags. The beginning tag is called the open tag, and the end tag is called the close tag.
The most basic of all tags is the, <html>, which indicates that the information that follows is written in HTML. The <html> tag is a paired tag, however, so you need to add a close tag at the end of the document, which is the same as the open tag with the addition of a slash: </html>. By the same token, if you begin an italic phrase with <i> (the italics tag), you must end it with </i>. Everything between the open and close tags receives the particular attribute of that tag.
If you get confused and specify, for example, a backslash instead of a slash, as in <\html>, or some other variant, the browser program doesn’t understand and simply ignores the close tag. When this happens, the attribute specified in the open tag continues past the point where you meant it to stop. In the case of the <html> tag, the problem is probably not significant because </html> appears at the end of the document. Nothing comes after it to mess up. But in many situations, a missing close tag can completely destroy a Web page,
What do you think would happen if you included quotation marks around a tag—suppose, for example, that you used “<html>” at the beginning of your document rather than <html>. If you guessed that only the quotes would be displayed, you’re right. Let me say it one more time: Web browsers are very simple-minded in their interpretation of HTML. Any tags that vary from the specific characters in the HTML-language specification result in something other than what you were expecting, or your formatting requests are ignored completely.
Launching your HTML editor
To start, I suggest you use Notepad, a terrific—albeit simple—text editor included with the Windows operating system. It’s free and ready for you to start up, even if you didn’t realize you had it!
In just about every Windows configuration I’ve ever seen, Notepad is accessible by clicking the Start button on the bottom-left corner of the window, and then choosing Programs Accessories. You should see a list of choices Notepad is about half way down the list. After Notepad launches, it shows you a blank page where you can type the HTML.
Saving your file as HTML
After you type an adequate amount of material in your HTML, it’s time to save the file to disk. Then you can open it in your favorite Web browser and see how it looks when the HTML is rendered (interpreted by the browser).
When you save this new HTML document, it’s critical that you append either the .htm or .html filename suffix to ensure that the Web browser properly recognizes it as an HTML document. You can do this by explicitly typing .html as the suffix in the File Name box. Give this file a name, such as firstpage.html, and type that name directly into the File Name box.
If you don’t specify a filename suffix, by default Notepad uses .txt. Saving the file with this extension causes problems! When you look at the page later in your Web caution browser, you see the HTML itself rather than having it interpreted. If that happens, and you find that you’ve already saved the file with a .txt or another extension, simply open the file again in Notepad, choose File Save As, and resave the file with the .html suffix.
Now you’re ready: You have named the file, remembered the .html suffix, made sure that it’s stored in the directory you want, and clicked Save. You’ve created your first Web page.
Opening the file in Internet Explorer
Now it’s time to launch a Web browser and have a look. I launch Internet Explorer because I have the icon right on my desktop. I double-click the blue e icon, and the Web browser opens to the Creating Cool Web Sites home page. To open a different page—the Web page you just created—choose File Open. The Open dialog box appears,
To open the Web page you just created, click Browse. The dialog box shown opens. When you find the file, click Open and then OK. You should be looking at your HTML page