Have you ever wondered, “What is HTML?” or how you can go about making your own website? Maybe you’ve wanted to make one just for fun, or perhaps even make one so you can advertise your services online for your business. HTML allows you to do just that.
Keep reading to discover what HTML is and how it can help you, so you’ll never wonder, “What is HTML?” again.
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What Is HTML?
HTML stands for: Hypertext Markup Language(HTML). It’s a tag-based language that you can use to make websites. It was created by Tim Berners-Lee in the 1980s and is a way for anyone to code their own website. HTML allows you to add all kinds of images, audio files, videos, formatting styles, and layouts to a web page, which is the HTML definition in a nutshell.
[Read: HTML for Kids: A Parent’s Guide]
Let’s look at the different words in HTML and break things down:
- Hypertext: A text that is coded to contain links to other texts. That is what makes linking to pages possible. Hypertext can be more than just text; it can mean pictures, video, and sound. You activate hyperlinks by clicking on them with your mouse. Think of it as a method to link and cross-reference different things. You can be completely static or as dynamic as you want with hypertext.
- Markup language: This is a system to annotate a document to differentiate the extra information in the document easily. Think of it like the extra notes a teacher might write on your tests with a red pen, along with corrections of your spelling, punctuation, or content.
These come together to form Hypertext Markup Language or HTML.
What is HTML Used For?
HTML forms the skeleton of the web page that you look at when searching online. Learning HTML is often the first step in creating websites—it’s simple and deceptively powerful.
All HTML files are written in ASCII text (American Standard Code for Information Interchange), so you can use any text editor to write a page. You don’t need fancy tools, and you can view the results of your work in any browser because it’s universally supported, which is one of the most significant HTML advantages there is.
How Does HTML Work?
Every single HTML file contains a bunch of nested elements, along with the tags. Just about anyone can write up a .html file with a basic text editor and then upload it to the internet to start making their own website.
Next, web data servers need to know what to do with the files you upload and how to send them to the client’s computer to understand them. That is what the code in the HTML is used to decide. It’s the glue that holds everything together.
Your HTML page will contain many elements, which are thankfully easy to understand because they go by names that describe what they are (i.e. header tags, paragraph tags, image tags).
All web pages are made up of these tags. Then the plain-text content on your website —what you want the user to see—is wrapped up neatly in a bundle of tags to tell the page what kind of content it is. That helps the web browser understand how it has to display each type of content in the HTML file.
The paragraph tag puts your content into neat little paragraphs, and the header tag puts the words as a proper title on a page. You have to begin a tag, include the plain-text content in the middle, and then close the tag to let the computer know you’re done using that tag.
Let’s look at a basic example:
<p> is what denotes a paragraph, so let’s use it to make a paragraph.
<p>This is a paragraph.</p>
You can add headings, line breaks, lists, special characters, and even format your paragraph in different ways depending on the way you code it.
Let’s look at another example.
<title>Welcome to my website: What is HTML?</title>
<h2>What’s so basic about HTML?</h2>
<p>An example of a paragraph that lists the applications of HTML</p>
The <html> tag tells your browser that the file type is HTML.
The <head> tag has the <title> tag beneath that might contain different kinds of metadata information about your web page.
The <body> tag tells your browser that everything within that tag is the information you want to show the user. In the example, we’re making a web page that tells people the importance of HTML.
You close every single tag with the help of the “/”, which is important to tell the browser when you’re done using a tag. You can make a usable web page without closing your tags, but it might end up giving you errors if you don’t close them.
If you want to link to a different web page, you write the following:
<a href=” http://www.myexamplewebsite.com”> Welcome to my website!</a>
The <a> tag is what’s called an anchor tag, which contains the address of the URL you want people to go to when they click.
The href attribute is used to tell the browser what URL you want people to visit.
While the above code may seem tiny, it is what the entire internet is made of. We know it can feel complicated at first, but take things step-by-step, and you’ll be on your way to coding websites in no time.
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A Deep Dive Into HTML Uses
Let’s explore some of the biggest uses of HTML and its advantages.
- HTML is one of the most commonly used languages in the world. It’s used by nearly 93.4% of all websites worldwide. Most websites you use every day were likely written in HTML.
- Many (if not all) browsers support the use of HTML. This is the industry standard, so you can rest assured that most people will be able to view your website on their browsers.
- HTML is one of the easiest languages to learn. It’s accessible for absolute beginners because of how straightforward it is compared to other languages.
- HTML is lightweight and loads very fast on most browsers. This allows you to make sure even the most impatient of people will get to see your website.
- HTML is the free and default choice. You don’t need to download or purchase extra software to make it run.
- HTML is reasonably flexible and has a simple syntax.
- HTML allows you to use plenty of ready-made templates. That will enable you to create a professional-looking website very fast and with very little knowledge.
- HTML has a lot of tags and attributes. These seriously cut down on the amount of code you need to use.
- HTML lets you store session data with the user using the local storage option, which helps to reduce cookie size.
*The above bullet points were sourced from Geeksforgeeks and Code Academy
Real-World Benefits of HTML
Let’s look at real-world examples of what learning HTML can do for you.
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1. HTML allows you to browse the internet with ease.
All you need to do is click on a link to travel on the internet, or enter the URL in the address bar.
Hypertext is what makes travel between the internet possible, especially if you haven’t memorized all the URLs on the whole internet. It’s essential to guide users around your website and act as a door to know that different rooms exist and can travel between them.
Without hypertext, how can you tell if there are other web pages to visit at all?
2. HTML allows you to create web documents.
A web document is a web page. All web pages are possible because you can create the content you want the user to see and then wrap them up in snug code that tells the computer how to format the whole thing. That lets your browser know what text the heading is, what text the body is, and what text the metadata is. It’s labeled, so the computer understands what to do with the content that you give it.
3. HTML comes with cutting-edge features.
HTML supports Polyfill, which is a piece of code that lets you use different technology natively. That means that you can mimic a future API and give fallback functionality to older browsers. You can use polyfill libraries according to your needs and do things no one has ever done before.
4. HTML supports data entry.
You have the standard APIs needed to support any data entry work. All developers need to do is add tags that indicate the required fields, such as text and data formats. You can even support on-screen keyboards and validation, which allows the user to have a smooth and comfortable experience.
5. HTML allows offline storage.
What if your users are disconnected? You can still make your applications work with the help of application cache mechanisms found in the latest version of HTML. The application cache handles all kinds of offline abilities and has different components, including API methods that need updates. You can set what the browser manages with its offline use and even control the resources used through the manifest file.
6. HTML allows game development.
Flash is no more, but we can still make browser-based games with the help of HTML. The APIs you use don’t need to be strictly implemented, but the most important components can be used while removing the rest of the features, which allows for a lighter-weight experience. HTML is quickly becoming one of the most common game programming languages thanks to the advances made in HTML5.
7. HTML allows you to use native APIs.
API stands for application programming interface and is a messenger that allows two different applications to talk to each other. HTML comes with geolocation, drag and drop, event handling, and even more features with the help of APIs. These make HTML programming more powerful than ever. You can even use modern web applications with asynchronous natures.
8. HTML lets you store things on the client-side.
The localstorage and IndexDB allow you to store files on the client-side in a more straightforward, easier, and more efficient way than ever. These come with their own features, which are pretty powerful. Localstorage comes with string-based hash table storage and support for the getItem, setItem, and removeItem methods. IndexDB comes with even bigger storage which you can expand with the approval of the user as well.
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HTML is an amazing way for anyone to jump into programming. It’s straightforward, simple, flexible, and grows only more powerful as time passes by. You can probably make a basic web page in less than a day if you understand the fundamentals of HTML coding. Hopefully, this article has shed some light on the basics and motivated you enough to take your first step.
What do you think of HTML? Does it still seem intimidating? Or does it seem easy compared to other languages you’ve learned?
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