HTML stands for
HyperText Markup Language.
HTML is a member of the Standardized General
Markup Languages (
There are three characteristics of HTML which are important to understand.
It is a markup language that focuses on tagging the content of a page
so that it can be displayed appropriately on different platforms by
Since the intention is to be platform independent, it does not attempt to
provide font selections or highly detailed layout specifications.
It is intended to be readable by both humans and machines.
Thus it is a formal language with precise rules that humans can easily
Most browsers will ignore tags they don't understand and will try to
do something sensible with documents which are not syntactically correct.
Unfortunately, this means that your document may look fine on your
machine with your browser, and may look unintelligible on a different
machine or a different browser.
There are software editors, HoT-MetaL Pro and PageMill for example,
which automatically generate tags and insure conformity to the HTML
There are also programs which verify HTML documents for conformance to
Hypertext is the primary feature of HTML which distinguishes it from
other SGML languages.
An anchor tag can be used to indicate that a word or phrase should be
displayed differently (typically underlined and colored blue) and then
treated as a link to another document.
Two key specifications were necessary to make this work - the Uniform
Resource Locator (URL), and the HyperText
Transport Protocol (HTTP).
What's new? HTML 3.2
HTML 3.2 is W3C's new specification for HTML.
It was developed together with vendors
including IBM, Microsoft, Netscape Communications Corporation, Novell, SoftQuad,
Spyglass, and Sun Microsystems.
Relative to the HTML 2.0
standard, HTML 3.2 will add widely deployed features such as:
description of HTML 3.2 elements includes
a few minor changes relative to HTML 2.0 as well.
W3C is continuing to work with vendors on extensions for multimedia objects,
scripting, style sheets, layout, forms and math. W3C plans on incorporating
this work in further versions of HTML. See
Activity Statement on HTML for details.
What happened to HTML 3.0?
HTML 3.0 was a
proposal for extending HTML published in March 1995. The
was a testbed implementation, and a few other experimental
implementations were developed (see: the
Yahoo list of browsers, including UdiWWW, Emacs-W3, etc.).
However, the difference between HTML 2.0 and HTML 3.0 was so large
that standardization and deployment of the whole proposal proved unwieldy.
The HTML 3.0 draft has expired, and is not being maintained.
Resources For Learning HTML
A Beginner's Guide to HTML
- This is an excellent document for anyone who is starting to
do serious web page authoring. This document is maintained
The HTML Quick Reference Guide
- This is a complete and concise list of HTML tags and attributes.
It's a handy reference once you've finished the primer.
This document is maintained
by Michael Grobe, Academic Computing Services,
The University of Kansas.
The World Wide Web Consortium
- The W3 Consortium exists to develop common standards for the
evolution of the World Wide Web.
It is an industrial consortium run by the
Laboratory for Computer Science at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In Europe, MIT collaborates with
CERN, the originators of the web,
and INRIA, the European W3C center.
W3C works with the global community to produce
W3C is funded by industrial members, but its products are freely
available to all.
The HTML 2.0 Standard
- This site is maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium and
contains the HTML 2.0 standard in several forms.
It also includes the SGML source which defines the language and
tools for translating between SGML and other formats such as TEX
- HTML 3.2 Features at a Glance
- Brief description of all HTML 3.2 elements
Document Type Definition
This defines the syntax of HTML as an SGML application.
This is a draft which represents the consensus of an editorial
review board within the W3C, as of April of 1996.
They are still under revision, subject to W3C member review and
- HTML Validation Software
- This link connects to Yahoo's current list of sites providing HTML
validation services or software, including the
WebTechs HTML Validation Service and
a Perl program for quick and easy checking and cross referencing of a local
setof HTML documents for missing links, anchors, files etc.
An Instantaneous Introduction to CGI Scripts and HTML Forms
- This document provides a quick introduction to HTML forms and the
CGI Scripts needed to process them.
This document is maintained by Michael Grobe,
Academic Computing Services, The University of Kansas
- An excellent source for tools and other web development resources.
Some Sample Pages
- Hello World page using
only HTML and an animated gif.
- Text Level Elements is a sample
page displaying all the text level tags defined in HTML 3.2.
What you see with these tags will vary depending on your browser
and platform. Many of the tags are displayed the same way.
However, in your documents you should use the most appropriate tag
based on the content so that as the browsers evolve your document
continue to be displayed correctly.
- Input Form 1. This form is submitted
to a minimal CGI program (written in C) which simply echos the string
sent by the browser. The string is a list containing names and values.
The CGI program was written by Brant Sears who also provides a succinct
of the basic issues for CGI programming.
- Input Form 2. This form is submitted
to a CGI program (written in C) which returns a formatted page displaying
the names and values sent by the browser. The code in the C program
is specific to this form. This test form, the CGI program, and an
entire C support library for CGI
were developed by Thomas Boutell.
- Input Form 3. This form, which is the same
format as the first two examples, is submitted to a CGI script written in
Perl which returns a formatted page displaying the names and values
sent by the browser as well as all the environment variables set up by the
server. This script is generic and will work for any form.
Notice, however, that the results are not displayed in any particular order.
- Input Form 4. This form, which is different
from the first three examples, is sent to the same CGI script as in