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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.

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