1.3. HTML: What It Is
HTML is a document-layout and hyperlink-specification language. It defines the syntax and placement of special, embedded directions that aren't displayed by the browser, but tell it how to display the contents of the document, including text, images, and other support media. The language also tells you how to make a document interactive through special hypertext links, which connect your document with other documents -- on either your computer or someone else's, as well as with other Internet resources, like FTP.
1.3.1. HTML Standards and Extensions
The basic syntax and semantics of HTML are defined in the HTML standard, currently Version 4.01. HTML has matured in barely eight years, having gone through at least four iterations in as many years. At one time, a new version would appear before you had a chance to finish reading this book. Today, the pace of change has slowed. Now the wait is for browser manufacturers to implement the standards.
Browser developers rely upon the HTML standard to program the software that formats and displays common HTML documents. Authors use the standard to make sure they are writing effective, correct HTML documents.
However, the standard is not always explicit; manufacturers have some leeway in how their browser might display an element. And to complicate matters, commercial forces have pushed developers to add into their browsers nonstandard extensions meant to improve the language.
In this book, we explore in detail the syntax, semantics, and idioms of HTML Version 4.01, along with the many important extensions that are supported in the latest versions of the most popular browsers, so that any aspiring HTML author can create fabulous documents with a minimum of effort.
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