HTML Introduction

Chapter 1 2 mins

Learning outcomes:

  1. What is HTML
  2. The history of HTML

What is HTML?

HTML, which stands for Hypertext Markup Language, is a language used to define the content, structure and meaning of webpages.

HTML is by far one of the most fundamental technologies of the World Wide Web. It's the first technology in the triad — that includes CSS and JavaScript — that's potentially capable enough to create fully-functional, interactive websites.

If we dissect the name 'HTML', we get two terms: hypertext and markup language.

Let's see what each of these means.

What is meant by hypertext?

Hypertext is text that is not just mere text; it's instead interactive. It contains links, referred to as hyperlinks, to navigate to related pieces of text.

That's exactly what the word 'hyper' represents here, i.e. hypertext is text that goes 'beyond' the limitations of normal text, which is otherwise usually read in a linear fashion, one after another page.

Using hypertext, we can skip the normal reading flow of text and rather jump to other pieces of text. Sometimes, due to this characteristic behavior, we say that hypertext gives a non-linear reading experience.

As a matter of fact, the term 'hypertext' was first coined by Ted Nelson in his paper "A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing, and the Indeterminate", published in 1965.

HTML is also based on the idea of hypertext, hence the usage of term in its name.

What is meant by a markup language?

A markup language is a means of 'marking up' some text, i.e. 'highlighting' it, to give it a special meaning.

The fact that a markup language is a 'language' has to do with that it has a formal syntax and a set of grammatic rules to abide by — a characteristic feature of any language.

There are many markup languages in use today, for e.g. XML, Markdown, LaTeX, SVG.

It's important to note that a markup language is NOT a programming language, per se. It doesn't have all the logical constructs that are otherwise present in a programming language, such as JavaScript, Python, PHP, etc.

Moving on, commonly, we say that HTML is used to define the content, structure and meaning of webpages.

Content has to do with 'what' is shown on the webpage, structure has to do with 'how' that content is organized, whereas meaning has to do with what the content means (for e.g. some part of the content might mean a heading, some might mean a paragraph, and so on).

No matter what kind of a web developer you want to become, undoubtedly, the very first piece of technology to learn is HTML.

While HTML can get boring pretty quickly, it's a must to learn before being able to explore the next logical avenues of web development, for e.g. styling wih CSS and adding jaw-dropping interactivity with JavaScript.

Talking about the creation of HTML, the British scientist Tim-Berners Lee is generally credited to be the founding father of this extremely powerful technology.

Initially, HTML was deemed to be a pretty simple hypertext tool to be able to share scientific document within an organization, but later it plummeted across its usage and significance to be used in wide variety of areas.

Today HTML forms the very backbone of modern-day web. Take HTML out of the equation and, in the blink of an eye, the web will collapse.

"I created Codeguage to save you from falling into the same learning conundrums that I fell into."

— Bilal Adnan, Founder of Codeguage