Debut of Horton’s html hints

The gang’s been pressuring me to make my own blog posts, but I told them I didn’t have anything to offer.  I’ve only lived in this one reality (unless you talk to some of my friends), I’ve never traveled through time, I’ve never taught physics, never solved a crime, never cooked a Lebanese dish (although I think I’m going to try—Lana’s recipe sounds delicious!), and never had my own karate school.

So they asked me what did I know, and I told them just boring ol’ computer science.  Well, they told me a lot of people would like to learn how to manipulate html to spruce up their Web sites, and I said, “The Dickens you say!”

Now I have to figure out an approach for all this.  I’ve never taught skool, ether, so I will just jump in with something and come up with a more structured approach later.

Let’s talk today about where to start.  The beginning is always best.  HTML (hypertext markup language) is not really a programming language, so one does not “program” in html.  Note I switched to lowercase for html.  That’s because in the beginning man created all things HTML in uppercase.  The trend now is to use xhtml, which just means html written to xml (extensible markup language) standards.  In a nutshell, that means everything is lowercase, and everything is a container.

Container? What? Here’s an example.  In old html, you could do paragraphs by simply inserting “<P>” before each one.  Adding “</P>” at the end of a paragraph was optional.  These symbols are known as tags, and if you use both a begin-tag and and end-tag (the one with the slash), then you have a container, and all your content (text, in this case) goes inside the container.

At some point, people began turning to the Worldwide Web Consortium for guidance about how the different browsers could come together and render the HTML in a standard way, but one single standard has yet to emerge.  What we have now is different document types.  In your html, at the top, you declare to the browser what your document type is, and this tells it what rules to follow to render your document on the screen.  If you want to follow the tightest standards, you will need to follow xhtml conventions, which means no uppercase html tags and everything is a container (among other things).

Next time I’ll talk about two html elements, the div, a block element, and the span, an inline element.

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