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What is HTML? Learn the Functions, How it Works, And Its Strengths

by Lindsay Smith (2020-07-13)


Talking about HTML is not just limited to understanding it. You must know the ins and outs if you want to be proficient in this markup language. HTML is an abbreviation of Hypertext Markup Language. HTML allows a user to create and arrange paragraphs, headings, links, and blockquotes for web pages and applications.

HTML is not a programming language, and that means HTML doesn't have the ability to create dynamic functionality. Instead, HTML allows users to organize and format documents, just like Microsoft Word.

When working with HTML, we use a simple code structure (tags and attributes) to mark up website pages. For example, we create a paragraph by placing enclosed text between the opening tag <p> and the closing tag </p>.

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

In conclusion, understanding HTML as a mark up language is very easy to understand even for novice webmasters in the field of web development.

HTML History

HTML was created by Tim Berners-Lee, a physicist at the CERN research institute located in Switzerland. He has an idea about an internet-based hypertext system.

Hypertext refers to text that contains references (links) to other text that can be accessed directly by the viewer. The team released the first version of HTML in 1991, and consisted of 18 HTML tags. Since then, every time the HTML language releases the latest version, there are always the latest tags and attributes.

Based on Mozilla Developer Network's HTML Element Reference, for now, there are 140 HTL tags even though some are obsolete (no longer supported by the latest browser version).

Thanks to its increasing popularity, HTML is now considered the official web standard. HTML specifications are maintained and developed by the World Wide Web Consortiumm (W3C). Check the latest version of this language on the W3C website.

A massive HTML upgrade took place in 2014, and the result was the introduction of HTML5. In the upgrade, there is a new semantic that tells the meaning of its own content, such as <artcile>, <header>, and <footer>.
How does HTML work?

An HTML document is a file that ends with the extension .html or .htm. This file extension can be seen using any web browser (such as Google Chrome, Safari, or Mozilla Firefox). The browser reads the HTML file and renders the content so internet users can see and read it.

Usually, an average website includes a number of different HTML pages. For example, the main homepage, the ‘about us’ page, contact pages that all have separate HTML documents.

Each HTML page consists of a set of tags (also called elements), which refer to the building block of a website page. The tag creates a hierarchy that organizes content into sections, paragraphs, headings and other content blocks.

Most HTML elements have opening and closing tags that use the <tag> </tag> syntax.

Here is an example code from an HTML layout or structure:

    <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 top and bottom elements are simple divisions (<div> </div>) that you can use to mark up larger portions of content.
    The HTML layout above consists of headings (<h1> </h1>), subheading (<h2> </h2), two paragraphs (<p> </p>), and one image (<img>).
    The second paragraph includes a link (<a> </a>) with the href attribute consisting of the destination URL.
    Image tags have two attributes, src for image path and alt for image description.

Overview of the Most Used HTML Tags

HTML tags have two main types: block-level and inline tags.

    The block-level element uses all available space and always creates a new line in the document. Examples of block tags are headings and paragraphs.
    The inline element only uses space according to its needs and does not create new lines on the page. Usually this element will format the contents of a block-level content. Examples of inline tags are links and emphasized strings.

Block-Level Tag

The three block-level tags that every HTML document must have are <html>, <head>, and <body>.

    The <html> </html> tag is the highest level element that includes every HTML page.
    The <head> </head> tag stores meta information, such as the page title and charset.
    The <body> </body> tag attaches all content that appears on a page.

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

    Heading has 6 levels in HTML. These levels vary from <h1> </h1> to <h6> </h6>, where h1 is the highest heading level and h6 is the lowest level. Paragraphs are opened and closed with the <p> </p> tag, while blockquote uses the <blockquote> </blockquote> tag.
    Division is a larger piece of content and usually consists of several paragraphs, images, sometimes blockquotes, and other smaller elements. We can make a mark up using the <div> </div> tag. Inside the div element there are also other div tags.
    You can also use the <ol> </ol> tags for sequential lists and <ul> </ul> for non-sequential lists. Each list item must be opened and closed with the <li> </li> tag. For example, below is a basic view of non-sequential lists in HTML:
<ul>
        <li> List item 1 </li>
        <li> List item 2 </li>
        <li> List item 3 </li>
    </ul>

Inline Tag

Most inline tags are used to format text. For example, the <strong> </strong> tag will render elements to bold format, while the <em> </em> tag will be displayed in italic format.

Hyperlinks are inline elements that require the <a> </a> tag and href attribute to indicate the destination of the link:

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

Images are also inline elements. You can add an image using <img> without having to put a closing tag. However, you are advised to use the src attribute to specify the image path, for example:

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

If you want to learn more about HTML tags, please read our article about HTML cheat sheets (we also provide a link to download).
HTML development. How is HTML and HTML5 different?

Since the first day it was introduced, HTML has gone through significant developments. W3C continues to release the latest versions and updates while printing history and establishing its existence.

HTML4 (lately often referred to as "HTML") was released in 1999 and the latest version was introduced to the public in 2014. Known as HTML5, this latest version adds more new features to this mark up language.

One of the advanced features in HTML5 is support for embed audio and video. So, instead of using the Flash player, we can do video and audio files that are embedded on web pages by using the <audio> </audio> and <video> </video> tags. The feature also has built-in support for scalable vector graphics (SVG) and MathML for mathematical and scientific formulas.

HTML5 also introduces several improvements to semantics. The new semantic tag sends information to the browser about the meaning of the content, which is useful not only for readers, but also search engines.

The most widely used semantic tags are <article> </article>, <section> </section>, <aside> </aside>, <header> </header>, and <footer> </footer>. In order to better understand the differences between HTML and HTML5, please read our article.
Strengths and Weaknesses of HTML

Just like other technical things in the web world, HTML also has advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages:

    The language is widely used and has many sources and a large community.
    It runs naturally in every web browser.
    Having an easy learning curve.
    Open-source and completely free.
    Neat and consistent markup language.
    Official web standards maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
    Easily integrated with backend languages, such as PHP and Node.js.

Deficiency:

    Most often used for static web pages. For dynamic features, you can use JavaScript or backend languages, such as PHP.
    HTML does not allow users to run logic. As a result, all web pages must be made separate even though they use the same elements, such as headers and footers.
    New features cannot be used quickly in some browsers.
    Sometimes browser behavior is difficult to predict (for example, older browsers cannot always render newer tags).

How is the Relationship between HTML, CSS, and JavaScript?

Although stated as a mark-up language that is powerful, HTML cannot fully create a professional and responsive website. HTML can only be used to add elements and structure content.

But on the one hand, HTML can work optimally with two frontend languages: CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and JavaScript. When combined, these two frontend languages can enhance user experience and enable more sophisticated functions.

    CSS is closely related to styling, such as background, color, layout, spacing, and animation.
    JavaScript allows you to add dynamic functionality, such as sliders, pop-ups, and photo galleries.

For example HTML is a person who does not use even a single thread, CSS is his clothing, and JavaScript is his activity and attitude.

So ... What is HTML?

HTML is the main web mark-up language and runs naturally in every browser and is maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium.

Based on how HTML works, you can use it to structure content on websites and web applications. HTML is the lowest level of frontend technology and serves as a basis for styling that you can add to CSS and functionality that can be run using JavaScript.

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