• Different Versions Of HTML

    HTML 1.0

    The original version of HTML was HTML 1.0. It had very limited features which greatly limited what you could do in designing your web pages.

    HTML 2.0

    HTML 2.0 then arrived and included all the features of HTML 1.0 plus several new features for web page design. Until January, 1997, HTML 2.0 was the standard in web page design.

    HTML 3.0

    HTML 2.0 served its purpose very well, but many people designing web pages (called HTML authors or webmasters) wanted more control over their web pages and more ways to mark up their text and enhance the appearance of their websites. Netscape, the leading browser at that time, introduced new tags and attributes called the Netscape Extension Tags. Other browsers tried to duplicate them but Netscape did not fully specify their new tags and so these extension tags did not work in most other browsers. It led to considerable confusion and problems when HTML authors used these tags and attributes and then saw that they didn't work as expected in other browsers.
            At about that time, an HTML working group, led by Dave Raggett, introduced the HTML 3.0 draft which included many new and useful enhancements to HTML. However, most browsers only implemented a few elements from this draft. The phrase "HTML 3.0 enhanced" quickly became popular on the web but it more often than not referred to documents containing browser specific tags (discussed below in "The Netscape Problem" section), instead of referring to documents adhering to the HTML 3.0 draft. This was one of the reasons why the draft was abandoned. HTML 3.0 is now an expired draft. Another reason why HTML 3.0 did not make it was because it was so "big". Future versions were now to be introduced in a more "modular" way so that browsers can implement them modular by modular or bit by bit.

    HTML 3.2 (WILBUR)

    As more browser-specific tags were introduced, it became obvious that a new standard was needed. For this reason, the Word Wide Web Consortium (W3C), founded in 1994 to develop common standards for the evolution of the World Wide Web, drafted the WILBUR standard, which later became known as HTML 3.2. HTML 3.2 captures the recommended practice as of early 1996 and became the official standard in January, 1997. Most, if not all, popular browsers in use today fully support HTML 3.2.

    HTML 4.0 (COUGAR)

    In the early days, HTML 4.0 was code-named COUGAR. This version introduces new functionality, most of which comes from the expired HTML 3.0 draft. This version became a recommendation in December, 1997 and a standard as of April, 1998. Explorer has done a very good job in implementing the many features of HTML 4.0. Unfortunately, Netscape has not kept pace. The latest version of Netscape Communicator still does not recognize the many tags and attributes introduced with HTML 4.0. This means that a web page that involves HTML 4.0 specific tags will look great in Explorer but can look disastrous in Netscape.


    You would think that the next major version after HTML 4.0 would be HTML 5.0 and with it would come a bunch of new tags that would do all sorts of wonderful things. That would be a good guess - but it would also be a wrong guess. The next version of HTML after HTML 4 is XHTML.

    XHTML stands for EXtensible HyperText Markup Language.


    XHTML is not bringing with it a lot of new tags. The purpose of XHTML is to address the new browser technologies that is sweeping the world. Today web pages are being viewed in browsers through cell/mobile phones, cars, televisions, plus a host of hand-held wireless devices and communicators. Alternate ways to access the internet are continually being introduced. In many cases, these devices will not have the computing power of a desktop or notebook computer and so will not be able to accommodate poor or sloppy coding practices. XHTML is designed to address these technologies. XHTML also begins to address the need for those with disabilities (such as the blind and visually impaired) to access the internet. Thus web pages written in XHTML will allow them to be viewed on a wide range of browsers and internet platforms.


    XHTML is the result of the hard working World Wide Web Consortium (the W3C) to bring some sort of standard to provide rich high quality web pages through these varied devices. XHTML became an official W3C recommendation in January, 2000. XHTML is now a web standard and is the next generation of HTML.

    HTML 5

    HTML 5 (usually written HTML5) is the new web standard. It follows HTML 4 (which came out way back in 1997) and XHTML. Since the introduction of HTML4, a lot has happened with the web and something needed to be done to address all the new technologies and latest multimedia. HTML5 is the result of cooperation that began in 2006 between the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG). While HTML5 is still evolving (still under development), the latest browsers do support many of the new features and elements in this version. The basic aim of HTML5 is to provide two things - (1) to improve the language and (2) to support the latest multimedia. In order to accomplish this, some ground rules were established by the W3C and WHATWG. Among them were to reduce the need for external plug-ins (such as Flash plug-ins), better handling of errors, and more markup elements (tags) to replace scripting. HTML5 should also be device independent (that is, understood by computers and the many devices in existence today) while also keeping it easily readable by us humans.

  • Getting Started

    YOU NEED A FOLDER (also called a DIRECTORY)
    You should set up a folder or directory to hold only your HTML files (also called documents) for the web pages you are designing. Work in that folder only. If you are doing all these lessons, you may also wish to set up a separate folder to hold all my examples for testing in your browser. The best way to learn is by doing so when I give you an example or a problem for you to work on, be sure to try it out to see what it would look like on the web through your browser. You can then alter the example to experiment with different effects. In any event, you need some place to put your work. If you do not know how to create a folder, be sure to call someone who does know and can tell you how to do it.

    You can write and design your HTML pages (that is, your web pages) off-line. If all you are doing is designing and creating web pages, you do not need to go on the internet. If you have a regular telephone dial up connection, and there is only one telephone line in your house, there is no need to tie up the line.

    Internet Explorer and Firefox are among today's most popular browsers for viewing web pages and for surfing the internet. Netscape Navigator (also called Netscape Communicator) is still being used by many surfers but, as stated in Lesson One, it is no longer supported by AOL. That is, there will be no more browser updates, updates on security patches, etc.  There are other browsers also but they are not nearly as popular as Explorer and Firefox. In addition, today, web pages are being viewed in browsers through cell/mobile phones, cars, televisions, plus a host of hand-held wireless devices and communicators.

    You need a simple word processor such as NotePad or WordPad. These simple word processors are also called text editors and are ideal for creating web pages. Now you can also use word processors such as WordPerfect or Microsoft Word or Works but they are not simple text editors. They include a lot of formatting which we do not want. For these and other reasons, many webmasters like using NotePad which can be found in the Accessories folder (also known as the Accessories "Group"). In Windows, for example, NotePad is found by clicking on "Start", then choosing "Programs" (or All Programs), then choosing "Accessories" and finally choosing NotePad. That is:

    Start --> Programs --> Accessories --> NotePad

    As we will see later in this lesson, there are good reasons for using a text editor such as NotePad for creating web pages.

    Sometimes the coding for a web page can become so big that it will no longer fit into NotePad. In this case, you will need to switch to another text editor to complete the page. When you are faced with this situation, WordPad is the answer. It allows for much larger files and is also located in the Accessories folder. You may wish to try WordPad sometime. It has a few more features than NotePad and so you may prefer to use WordPad instead of NotePad. From here on in I will be referring to NotePad as the text editor of choice. Of course if you wish, you can use any text editor or word processor.


    In summary, you basically:

    1. create your web page in a text editor such as NotePad (typing in all the text and tags)
    2. save your web page as an HTML file using any appropriate name
    3. load the HTML file into the browser to see how your web page looks and works
    4. switch back to NotePad to make any corrections, changes, etc.

    When you save your web page for the first time, you need to give it a name. You not only have to give it a name but you also need to add a suffix (an extension) to the name.

    THE NAME: If you are not running at least Windows 95, your file name is limited to a maximum of 8 characters. Otherwise the name can be longer. Since most people today are using at least Windows 95, this is not an issue. It is strongly recommended that you do not use spaces in the file name. Browsers will replace the space with a coding such as %20 so that the name "my web page" will look like "my%20web%20page" which is confusing and does not look good. We do not want strange symbols in our file names and so it is best to avoid spaces in the name.

    THE SUFFIX: The suffix is an extension to the name and declares the kind of document that it is. In HTML, the suffix is either ".htm" or ".html". "Htm" or "html" tells the browser you are working with HTML files - that is, an HTML document.

    You must use ".htm" if you are not running Windows 95 or higher. Again, this is no longer an issue and so you can use either .htm or .html for the file extension.

    So if "homepage" is the name of the HTML document (your web page), you can have either






    Once you have saved your web page (your HTML file or document), you need to SWITCH over to your browser which is running in the background. Once you activate your browser, choose File from the menu bar, and then choose Open or Open File or Open File in Browser (one of them should be in the File menu). You will then need to locate your web page, click on the file name and then click the OK button. Your HTML file will appear in the browser. You can only observe your file in the browser - you can not edit in the browser. Once you have seen how your web page looks in the browser, you can then SWITCH back to NotePad to continue working and editing.

    (1) If you want to LOAD an HTML file for the first time into NotePad, and the name does not show up in the correct folder in the dialog window, choose All Files (*.*) in the Files of type box and the name should then appear. In the case of WordPad, it must be All Documents (*.*). Click on the name and then on the Open button.
    (2) If you use a word processor other than NotePad or WordPad, you may first need to CLOSE the HTML file before it can be loaded into your browser. With NotePad and WordPad this is not necessary.

    If some of this sounds confusing, don't worry, you will get a chance to practice saving and loading in Lesson Three.

  • What is HTML?

    The language for building web pages.