What is HTML?

Last Updated: September 29, 2021

Jason

Jason

What is HTML?
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HTML, if you’re wondering, if short for hypertext markup language. It lets the user structure and create sections, links, headings, paragraphs, and blockquotes for apps and webpages.

HTML is not technically a programming language. This means that it can’t be dynamic with its functions. Instead, it helps you format and organize documents, which is kind of like how Microsoft Word runs.

When you use HTML, you use simple code structures to mark up a page online. For example, you can make a paragraph by inserting the text below within <p> and </p>.

<p>This is how you add a paragraph in HTML.</p>
<p>You can have more than one!</p>

Generally speaking, HTML is a markup language that’s a lot easier to learn than you might think. This means that even if you’re a beginner, you should be able to get the hang of it relatively quickly.

The History of HTML

HTML was developed by a man named Tim Berners-Lee, who was a physicist in Switzerland. Hypertext means that it contains links to other links that viewers can make the most of straight away. The first HTML was published by him in 1991, and it consisted of 18 tags. Since then, every new version of HTML has added new tag modifiers and tags to the markup. There are 140 official HTML tags, however some of them are redundant, as they aren’t supported by some of the later browser models.

Because HTML took off in popularity, it is now considered an official web standard. The World Wide Web Consortium keeps track of HTML, and you can check out the latest adjustments to HTML through their website.

The biggest upgrade to the language occurred in 2014. This added a few new semantic tags to the markup.

How Does it Work?

HTML

HTML documents are files that end in either .htm or .html extension. You can see these in any web browser, including Firefox and Google Chrome. The browser scans the HTML file and brings up its content so that you can view it on the internet.

As you know, the average website includes more than just the homepage. This means that each page has a separate HTML or set of tags that are associated with it. They are the building blocks of the webpage and are what makes it unique from the rest. Most HTML elements begin with an opening, and end with a closing. Below, you can see an example of this:

<div>
  <h1>The Main Heading</h1> 
  <h2>A catchy subheading</h2>
  <p>Paragraph one</p> 
  <img src="/" alt="Image"> 
  <p>Paragraph two with a <a href="https://example.com">hyperlink</a></p>
</div>

The external element is a simple division that you can use to markup greater content sections. It will contain a heading, a subheading, two paragraphs, and an image. The second paragraph with include a link that contains the destination link. The image tag also comes with a couple of attributes: alt for the image, and src for the image path.

The Most Used HTML Tags

There are two main kinds of HTML tags: inline tags and block-level tags. Block-level tags take up the space that is available, and always begin on a new line in a document. Paragraphs and headings are good examples of this.

Inline elements will only take up the space they require and won’t begin a new line on the page. They usually format the inner content and are things like emphasized strings and links.

Block-Level Tags

For every HTML document, there needs to be three block level tags. These are <head>, <html>, and <body>.

The <html> tag encapsulates every HTML page. <head> contains meta information, including the page’s charset and title. Lastly, the <body> tag is all the content that you will see on the page.

<html>
  <head>
    <!-- META INFORMATION -->  
  </head>
  <body>
    <!-- PAGE CONTENT -->
  </body>
</html>

There are six levels of headings in HTML. They start at <h1> and end at <h6>. Paragraphs are enclosed by <p>,</p>.

Divisions comprise larger content areas that contain things like images and more than one paragraph.

<ul>
    <li>List item 1</li>
    <li>List item 2</li>
    <li>List item 3</li>
</ul>

Inline Tags

There are lots of inline tags that are used to format text. Hyperlinks are also inline elements that need tags and attributes to show you the destination of the link:

<a href="https://example.com/">Click me!</a>

Images are also inline elements, and you can add an image without a closing tag. However, you will still need to include the ‘src’ to specify the path of the image.

<img src="/images/example.jpg" alt="Example image">

What is the Different Between HTML and HTML5?

HTML5 is the latest version of HTML, which means that it comes with a lot of updated features that the original HTML doesn’t have. One of the biggest features that it comes with is its native support for video embedding and audio. This means that instead of having to use Flash player, you can embed audio files and videos for your webpages using the new audio and video tags.

HTML5, as we mentioned above, also introduced a few semantic improvements. These new tags inform browser about what the content means, which is helpful to both search engines and readers.

Advantages and Disadvantages of HTML

Of course, like most things in the technology industry, HTML has its pros and cons.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular coding language with a big community and lots of resources
  • Is native to most browsers
  • Isn’t hard to learn
  • Completely free to use and open source
  • Consistent markup
  • Web standards are maintained by W3C
Cons
  • Generally used for static web pages. This means that dynamic functions need something a bit more advanced, like JavaScript
  • Some browsers don’t adopt all of the new features at once
  • Browser behavior can be difficult to predict

Summary of What is HTML

HTML is the most widely used language on the internet and has been for almost 30 years. It runs natively on almost every browser and is maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium.

The great thing about HTML is that you can use it to create consistent content structure for web applications and websites. It is on the lower end of technologies, which means that you don’t need a lot of prior coding experience to make the most of it.

Written by Jason

Hi! I’m the editor at EarthWeb. I have a deep interest in technology and business. I also enjoy testing products out. Contact me to be featured!