...in which we learn what HTML is and where it came from.
HTML is the code used to move the web from simple plain-text to rich, colourful interlinked pages. HTML stands for...
- Hypertext became widely known around 1990 with simple programs for the Apple Macintosh which allowed users to draw and type pages which were then linked together. Although hypertext had existed long before this, this level of accessibility pushed it to the attention of home users everywhere.
- HTML files are, at their most basic level, plain text files - editable with Notepad, UltraEdit or StrongEd. However, the text includes tags which tell the browser what a particular bit of text means.
- The markup is defined by the the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and has been through several different versions.
As mentioned above, hypertext systems found widespread appeal with the Apple Mac; but computer visionaries had been playing with the concept of sets of interconnected pages for decades previously.
This is the power of the web: not pretty pictures; animated interactive movies or Java applets to do your banking; but the ability for anyone to create a page which links to many others on topics related to the content of the page. These pages may be maintained by people who the author has never met or spoken to, but they can link to other pages which can eventually link back to the original. It literally is a World Wide Web.
One of the inital realisations was that the web would be used by many different machines with very different specifications; by many different users with very different requirements. For example, a blind user will not understand italics (however, will understand emphasis); so constant thought must be given to accessibility: not using structures which may render fine on your browser and OS, but will look (or sound!) crap to different visitors to your site.
The Internet has existed in some form or another since the 1960s, however in 1993 Tim Berners-Lee - a British physicist working at CERN in Geneva - envisioned a hypertext system designed for academic papers and information sharing with greater richness than the existing gopher system. In first HTML editor, browser and web server were released in 1991, as well as the first public specification of HTTP: the Hypertext Transmission Protocol - over which the web would be transmitted.
Although the web is a series of interconnected pages, browsing a particular page is a lot simpler. A client-server connection is formed, between the web browser (such as Netscape or Internet Explorer) - the client; and another machine on the Internet - the server.
Now we can begin to understand the URLs which make up the address of a webpage:
|The protocol used||The server which hosts the page||The path of the page: the file called lesson1.html in the /writings/html directory|
Of course, you don't need to know who invented the web; what HTTP or HTML stands for; or the definition of a client-server relationship to write a webpage - which we'll deal with in the next part.