HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It is simply a plain ASCII text file - that's it. This text file contains tags, which are always enclosed in <brackets>. Inside the brackets contain the commands. The smallest HTML is:
Just think, every HTML Web Page you'll come across, began its life like that.
The browser you're using, whether it be anything from Lynx to Netscape, format these tags and output the finished product to what you see on your screen. Here's an example:
The single best beginning tutorial I've found on HTML is A Beginner's Guide to HTML, and I'd highly recommend it for anyone. It's located at NCSA, a place you'll probably hear about a lot. It's the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. It's located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They make a lot of different types of programs, probably best known for the NCSA Mosaic World Wide Web browser.
HTML has and is a standard, meaning all browsers should format this standard to output the HTML code exactly the same. Some browsers have their own specific Tags to enhance the site look design, Netscape's Frames are a good example. This has its pluses and minuses for obvious reasons, but you'll read about that later as well. The latest HTML standard is 2.0, which is very outdated as far as Netscape, Internet Explorer, and others' Web Browsers are concerned. HTML 3.0 and 3.2 (aka HTML+, HTML 3.0+, etc.) is proposed, but seems to be going nowhere due to these companies, and in all likelihood will never become a standard. Like I said, this has its pluses and minuses, but it's ultimately up to you.
There are many ways to create HTML, everything from DOS Edit, to Windows Notepad, to UNIX vi, to a $200 commercial HTML editor. Anything that will create a plain ASCII text file, will create HTML. Here I will list some of the most powerful HTML editors, and link you to their home pages.
HTML editors are the only way to go in my opinion, or at least for the major design stages. They allow a lot of commonly-used features at a click of a mouse, auto-save, easy form and table creation, and literally hundreds of features. An HTML editor is to HTML writing as a word processor is to text editing.
CGI and PERL
CGI stands for Common Gateway Interface. It is a standard for interfacing external applications with the server your HTML is on. For example, let's say you have a guestbook database. A CGI would handle the input and output to that database, take the information, and display it to whoever is viewing the guestbook on your HTML, most often in real-time. Another example is a graphical access hit counter. Your HTML runs the CGI every time someone accesses your page. This CGI counts the hit, then tells the HTML what number to show. Those are two simple examples of the limitless possibilities that CGI can offer. CGI can be programmed in C, C++, Perl, any UNIX shell (ksh, csh, bash, etc.), Visual Basic, and a few other programming languages. In most cases, you'll need access to the cgi-bin directory on the server your HTML is on. If you're not sure if you have access to this, ask your system administrator or webmaster.
CGI can be one of the hardest things to learn in the HTML world, especially if you don't program, or don't have much programming experience. However, it can be a fairly easy transition if you do program. If you've ever seen an access counter, a guestbook, a form, an Imagemap, animation (in some cases), and a lot of other types of similar programs, these are done with CGI (or were, before Java).
This is another world of information that greatly enhances HTML. Fasten your seatbelts. Java is a programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. It developed in response to problems programming in C++. It is intended to be a "simple, object oriented, distributed, interpreted, robust, secure, architecture neutral, portable, high performance, multithreaded, dynamic" programming language. (I got a chuckle out of that if nothing else)
Applets are "little programs" written in Java. Although it can be used to write stand-alone applications, the concept of applets, which can be included with HTML documents and distributed over the Internet caught on, and led to the development of HotJava, Sun's Java-capable browser. HotJava was designed with these applets in mind; it supports the (not-yet-standard) APP HTML tag, which implies a Java program. Netscape Navigator, since 2.0 Beta 3, added support for the emerging beta-standard of Java as well. Currently, only the Windows 95/NT versions (and the HP-UX, IRIX, and SunOS and Solaris ports) are Java-enabled. A Java-capable browser, once it sees an APP tag, will download the code for the program and attempt to compile and run it on the client's machine. All HotJava distributions include standard libraries, an interpreter and compiler, and several pre-compiled examples of applets.
Netscapisms (also known as Netscape Extensions) are HTML tags only understood by Netscape Navigator. Netscape Corporation seems to love creating Netscape-specific tags, even if they aren't HTML standards. This includes Frames, FONT COLOR tags, nested tables, text alignment tags, and many more, although these aren't Netscape-specific tags anymore per se. This obviously has its pros and cons. This is another debate in the HTML community that won't ever be decided, but try not to get too involved. Everybody has their own opinions, and 99% of them won't switch opinions from a simple message or dialog, most have made up their mind before even seeing the debate in action. This comes down to personal opinion. Educational sites should also not contain Netscapisms, because 85% of the schools, colleges, etc., are using Lynx, a non-graphical browser. The last estimate I saw, 80% of the people on the web are browsing with Netscape. It comes down to personal opinion, who you hope to cater your site to, and common sense.
Most browsers do eventually "catch up" with Netscape tags, which is a big plus for the overall HTML community and the Web as a hole.
A real handy guide is The HTML reference library . It's a help file for Windows users. The 'author' is Stephen Le Hunte, contactable at email@example.com: The most recent version of this reference can always be found at ftp.swan.ac.uk in the directory pub/in.coming/htmlib.
The URL-minder: Your Own Personal Web Robot! A very handy site which sends you an E-mail to notify you that a site has changed its contents.
And you can even insert a little code on your homepage so that visitors can be notified whenever your page changes
A lot of cool icons which can be used are to be found at Goodies Shop
The great Bevelizer! When you want a 3D image you just fill in the URL where this image can be found, and a few seconds later you receive this image as a 3D button .
TransWeb Transparent-GIF Service To create transparent images online.
Using gif's as clickable maps All the information necessary to create your own clicable image.
HTML Validation Service At this server you give in the URL of your site, and than the HTML syntax of these pages are being checked.
Another validator is Doctor HTML v3
When your site is up, you might want to look into adding some nice 3rd party programs. These include sound, video, and other enhancements. These programs will bring your site alive and jump out to your guests. I will list some of the most popular programs out and provide the descriptions and links for you to check them out. For most of these, I'd recommend grabbing these Plugins and then visiting some of the links off the Plugin's home page, so you can judge for yourself. For these links, the plugins or clients are free, but the software to create it can hurt your cash flow. Isn't that why you got a computer in the first place?
Many more good Plugins can be found at:
Finally, your site is completely finished. Now it's time to let the world know about it. But how can U do this ???!!