HTML5 Basics

Starting Out

In this Lesson we gather the tools required to be able to create Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) documents after briefly discussing the current versions of HTML and the organisations that maintain them.

HTML is the language of the web and is what gives our web pages structure.

HTML is also very easy to learn and you only need a few tools to get started!

HTML History and Versions

In 1980, Tim Berners-Lee, a phycicist and contractor at CERN, proposed and prototyped ENQUIRE a system for using and sharing documents. This was expanded upon and it was over 10 years before the HTML acronym and a description of HTML Tags was published on the Internet by Tim Berners-Lee at the end of 1991. HTML has been through many version with the normal addition, deprecation and removal process that happans in any computer language. The table below lists the evolution of HTML through its major releases.

Version Release Date Organisation
HTML 2.0November 24, 1995CERN
HTML 3January 14, 1997W3C
HTML 4.01December 24, 1999W3C
HTML5October 28, 2014W3C

HTML Organisations and Standards

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) took over stewardship of HTML from version 3 and after the release of HTML 4.01 things moved at a glacial pace until the release of HTML5 in late 2014. During this period while the W3C were working on HTML5, another group called Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) was working on its own version of HTML. Luckily this hasn't turned into another IE-Netscape net war and both current versions of HTML are identical in many ways and differences between the W3C and WHATWG standards are generally in relation to an extra attribute or tag here and there.

A significant difference between the two organisations is regarding their approach to software release. W3C releases HTML specifications as 'versions' which are essentially a 'snapshot' of the specification on the date it becomes an official recommendation. This is in complete contrast to WHATWG who use what they refer to as a 'Living Standard'; this terminology is used as their HTML specifications are constantly changing, don't use version numbers and are simply known as HTML.

This isn't as big an issue as it may appear as the majority of changes to the WHATWG Living Standard are also added to the draft copy of next version of the W3C HTML specifications.

These discrepancies between standards became immaterial on 28 May 2019, when the W3C announced that WHATWG would be the sole publisher of the HTML and DOM standards from that time onwards. This means we are now back to one standard to follow going forwards, which can only be a good thing.

The Basic Tools

  1. Input Medium

    We need something to enter our HTML into. The obvious choice is a computer but you can use other means of input such as a tablet or at worst a smartphone, but you will have to have pretty good eyesight and dextrous fingers for this last option.

  2. HTML Editor

    A HTML editor is an application that helps with the creation of HTML pages.

    There isn't a requirement to use a HTML editor for our web pages it just makes things simpler when developing and writing HTML and will certainly increase page creation productivity.

    Most HTML editors highlight parts of the code making it easier to read and offer improved cut, paste and editing facilities tilted at HTML syntax. Other facilities offered in most HTML editors include autocompletion, configurable panels and advanced find and replace options.

    Free HTML Editors

    There are a lot of free HTML editors around, just type in "HTML Editor for [Your operating system] to see a selection.

    On my Windows 10 system free versions include CoffeeCup and SeaMonkey.

    Some such as TextPad and Sublime Text come with a "try before you buy" timed period to see if they fit your purpose.

    Can you Use a Text Editor?

    If you don't have or don't want to download a HTML editor then using a text editor is fine and perfectly adequate for these tutorials.

    On my Windows 10 system, notepad comes preinstalled and is perfectly acceptable for this purpose although Notepad++ is much better at displaying HTML syntax but requires a download.

  3. Web Browser

    Although there are certain vagaries between different web browsers this is nothing compared to the bad old days of IE5, IE6, IE7 etc. So any modern browser will do to review the results of inputting some HTML code and the results will be fairly similar regardless of the browser chosen.

    Following are the links for downloading Chrome, Edge and Firefox on my Windows 10 system.

Lesson 1 Complete

That's it! You now have the tools required to start writing web pages as well as some insight into the diffent HTML versions, standards and specifications available?

Related Quizzes

Starting HTML5 Quiz

What's Next?

In the next lesson we learn the syntax behind a HTML tag, by explaining start and end tags, tag attributes and some of the terminology commonly used. The lesson ends with out first practical.