HTML 4.01 in Netscape and Explorer: Introduction | WebReference

HTML 4.01 in Netscape and Explorer: Introduction

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Introduction

I can read your mind. Right now you're thinking, "not another HTML tutorial!" But before you click on our sponsor's banner and hijack out of this page, you might want to have a look at how this document is different from anything else you've seen, and perhaps you'll find it interesting enough to stay along for the whole ride.

This document is not an HTML tutorial that aims to teach you how to write HTML. There is a fine and comprehensive HTML specification out there that serves as an excellent reference and tutorial to HTML. In addition, there are a number of other HTML tutorials written by various people that you can read and learn from. Webreference's HTML section contains links to many interesting documents about HTML which you can use to learn the language.

The problem with HTML, is that from the first time it was defined as a language, the most popular implementations differed from the specification (and often from their own documentation!). This document is an attempt to clarify the differences between the HTML 4.01 specification and the implementations in Netscape Navigator 7.2 (hereafter called simply Netscape) and Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 (hereafter referred to as Explorer).

There are basically two parts to this document. Part 1, which comprises the first two sections after this introduction, talks about HTML in general and mentions a bit of its history. This will be useful for understanding what the whole thing is all about, and why HTML, which initially seems simple enough, should require so much documentation. Those itching to get to the bottom of things can jump straight to Part 2, which takes the HTML specification apart and documents as many differences as can be found between the specification and the implementations in Netscape and Explorer. The structure in Part 2 attempts to mimic the structure of the specification, and every time you see this symbol: 4.01 Spec, there is a link to the relevant section of the specification.

Despite the size and thoroughness of this document, it is by no means a definitive work; there is much more to be said on the subject of HTML, and here at WebReference we plan to expand on this document as much as possible. Also, we attempt not to delve too deeply into any facet of HTML and give tips and tricks for specific results. What you'll find here is a reference to HTML 4.01 features. There are two issues in the specification which we do not examine at all: one is internationalization: character sets and encodings, text direction etc. The other is scripting and inline event handlers. Scripting has been covered more than adequately by other resources.

Once you've read this document and feel comfortable with it, you might want to jump over to Dmitry's Design Lab and read about how to make your Web page look sharp. Then visit our JavaScript section and our Dynamic HTML Lab to see how you can make it talk back to you and make smiley faces as well. If you want more information on HTML, visit our HTML Resources and Information page. And of course, feel free to wander all over Webreference and our sibling sites, as there is a wealth of information available there as well. If you're here, you're interested in Web authoring. And that's what we're about!

Remember, no matter how good your page looks, no matter how many cool features and toys it has, if the information it contains doesn't attract attention, nobody is going to read it. So never forget that content is the first priority!

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Created: Mar. 12, 1998
Revised: November 15, 2004