HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language.
And the fascinating thing about HTML is that it is based on a simple text file. It isn’t magic—it’s hypertext markup.
The markup tags tell your browser how to display the page.
It seems that the Internet world changes completely every few years. We are on the brink of change now.
Since the early 1990s, HTML has evolved through several language specifications. The last HTML
specification, HTML 4.01, allowed you to use both uppercase and lowercase tags. The next generation of HTML is XHTML, which stands for Extensible Hypertext Markup Language. The first XHTML spec, XHTML 1.0, was recommended as a standard by the W3C World Wide Web Consortium in 2000.
Note The W3C is a worldwide consortium of computer manufacturers, countries, agencies, and professional bodies that work on developing different standards for Web use and languages. A
W3C Recommendation means that the specification has been reviewed by the W3C
membership and approved as a Web standard. In this book, you deal with XHTML, CSS, and
WAI (accessibility) standards. When you worked on the Confidence Builder project, you saw how tags could have attributes, or custom characteristics. You attached font colors and faces, border color to your table, and so on. You don’t arbitrarily attach an attribute to a tag, however.
There are standard attributes for different tags. Attributes are written in
the same way. For example:
In the example <body bgcolor="330099", the name of the attribute is bgcolor (background color) and
the value is a shade of orange for the tag <body. After the attributes are completed, the tag must be closed. In this example, if there were no other attributes for the <body> tag, it would be typed as <body bgcolor="330099">.
How HTML got complicated HTML, as it was originally written, was never intended to allow formatting. HTML was intended to define the content of a document. When HTML 3.2 was approved, attributes and formatting tags suddenly became usable. No longer were you forced to use plain default text in a default black color. However, developing sites using fonts and color information for every single piece of text that appeared on a page is a long and tedious
process. Think back to the Confidence Builder project that you just completed. Each time you added text to the page, you also added attributes for the fonts and colors. Granted, you could copy and paste this information from line to line (and I hope you did!), but it is still a time-consuming process subject to lots of simple errors. The repetitious description of attributes changed with HTML 4.0. All the formatting information required for a document could be moved out of the HTML document and into a separate style sheet. The document content stays in the HTML page; the styling information moves to a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) file. Think again of your Confidence Builder project. Wouldn’t it be much simpler to write the information about a text’s color once and then assign the information, as a style, to yo ur page’s content? Sure it would.