HyperText Markup Language (HTML) Explained

Why you needn't bother learning HTML

  • Converters already exist (e.g., Frame, LaTeX, man pages)
  • WYSIWYG editors already exist (like Netscape Gold)
  • So why bother learning HTML?

  • Automatic converters rarely do exactly what you want
  • LaTeX users will be happy; it's similar to LaTeX
  • non-LaTeX users will be happy; it's nothing like LaTeX
  • It's not that bad...
  • The best way to start is to copy a page that looks good to you, then make small changes

    What is HTML?

  • HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a text-based text formatting description (similar to LaTeX, Scribe, etc)
  • HTML commands are CaSe-InSeNsItIvE
  • Some commands are only given once: <LI>, <P>, <HR>
  • Others must be opened and closed explicitly: <EM>text</EM>, <STRONG>text</STRONG>
  • What's wrong with HTML?

  • You cannot control the precise layout; each Web client (e.g., Mosaic) will display your page in a slightly different way.
  • You cannot center images or text; everything is left-justified (well, Netscape lets you do this but not everyone uses it)
  • You cannot include tables or mathematical symbols in your text (but some converters like LaTeX2html let you fake them)
  • Lots of online tutorials

  • PC Week Crash Course (you can ignore the <html>, <head>, and <body> sections at first)
  • CERN's HTML 4.0 spec and HTML 3.2 spec
  • U Kansas quick reference guide
  • NCSA Primer (you should already be familiar with the Web)
  • CharmNet Web Authoring Style Guide
  • U of Toronto Introduction to HTML and URLs
  • Eric Tilton's Guide to Composing Good HTML

  • Carnegie Mellon Computer Science mwm@cs.cmu.edu
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