Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a computer language created to instruct applications (web browsers) how to display text and images (Shannon, 2007). The language is called a “markup language” because it uses special tags to change, or mark-up, plain text. Tags surround the effected text and let the web browser know how the text should be rendered. HTML has been around for a long time; dating back to the original proposal written by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 (World Wide Web Consortium, 2008).
HTML is the primary language behind web pages. Static web pages that do not contain changing data may be written exclusively in HTML. Dynamic pages, on the other hand, are usually written in another programming language. HTML lacks the control and logic structures necessary to make the complicated decisions a dynamic web page needs. Despite the use of another language, HTML is still produced and sent to the client.
Web browsers use HTML like instructions. Each tag gives the browser some idea of what it should do within the enclosed text. In many regards, the rules of HTML are clearly defined and any web browser can handle basic HTML easily. Unfortunately, some web browsers do not closely follow the HTML specifications, and this can result in rendering errors.
Shannon, R. (2007). What is HTML? Retrieved August 8, 2008.
World Wide Web Consortium. (2008). About W3C: History. Retrieved August 8, 2008.