HTML 4.01 in Netscape and Explorer: Of HTML and Learning It | WebReference

HTML 4.01 in Netscape and Explorer: Of HTML and Learning It

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Of HTML and Learning It
It's not as simple as it seems

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is one of the most popular languages used for creating Web pages. It seems like everyone has their own personal Web page with snapshots of their vacation in Jamaica. Only the most backward of companies neglect to put their URL on their business cards or company brochures.

Big deal, you think. HTML is simple enough. If I want something bold, I just put <b> and </b> around it (they're called tags or elements), and it's bold. Well, not exactly.

HTML really isn't a simple language. Most people think it's simple when they start creating their home page. Near the end of the process though, they find their page falling apart because they attempted to include all the latest bells and whistles.

The HTML 4.01 specification is a rather large document with both introductory as well as technical sections. There are, however, many tutorials, references, and other articles which can give instruction in the proper coding of HTML without ever having to refer to the actual HTML 4.01 specifications. The W3C even has its own tutorials.

There are basically two methods of coding an HTML document: WYSIWYG and handcoding. A WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor doesn't require advanced knowledge of HTML. The work is done visually; as in a wordprocessor. Hand coding requires extensive knowledge of HTML as each piece of code is input by hand. There is an ongoing debate in design circles as to which is the best method. There are a wealth of HTML editors available.

There is one major problem that plagues all Web designers, whether they code by hand or use WYSIWYG editors: browser compatability. The reason for this is that there is no browser out there that implements the specification completely, although many do come very close.

Let's make a few things clear about what constitutes HTML and say a few words about "standards."

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