Chapter 2. HTML Overview
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the language that encodes World Wide Web documents. It is a document-markup and hyperlink-specification language that defines the syntax and placement of special, embedded directions that aren't displayed by a web browser but tell it how to display the contents of the document, including text, images, and other supported media. The language also tells you how to make a document interactive through special hypertext links, which connect your document with other documents on the network.
The syntax and semantics of HTML are defined in the HTML standard specification. The HTML specification and all other web-related standards issues are developed under the authority of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Standards specifications and drafts of new proposals can be found at http://www.w3.org.
The latest HTML specification approved by the W3C is HTML 4.01. The latest generation of browsers have implemented the new standard almost fully. Although some support is still buggy, very few features of the specification remain unsupported. In the past, some browser makers implemented nonstandard extensions that could only be used on limited platforms. These extensions have been mostly done away with, although some platform-specific support still exists.
This section of the book summarizes the current state of HTML in seven chapters, as listed below. For more information on HTML, we recommend O'Reilly's HTML and XMTML: The Definitive Guide, by Chuck Musciano and Bill Kennedy.
2.1. HTML Document Structure
An HTML document consists of text, which comprises the content of the document, and tags, which define the structure and appearance of the document. The structure of an HTML document is simple, consisting of an outer <html> tag enclosing the document header and body:
<html> <head> <title>Barebones HTML Document</title> </head> <body> <p> This illustrates in a very <i>simple</i> way, the basic structure of an HTML document. </p> </body> </html>
Each document has a head and a body, delimited by the <head> and <body> tags. The head is where you give your HTML document a title and where you indicate other parameters the browser may use such as script and style sheets. The body is where you put the actual contents of the HTML document. This includes the text for display and document control markers (tags) that describe the text elements. Tags also reference media files like graphics and sound, and indicate the hot spots (hyperlinks or anchors) that link your document to other documents.
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