Beginnerís Guide to Web Building
computer world is full of acronyms and abbreviations. You have DOS
(disk operating system), DPI (dots per inch), OCR (optical character
recognition), just to name a few. As a side note, have you noticed
that most of them are three letters long? So many of them, for
whatever reason, are three letters long, that we came up with a term
for these abbreviations: TLAs. (heh heh)
back to my point: One very important abbreviation you will no doubt
run in to is HTML. HTML stands for "HyperText Markup
Language," but you only need to memorize that if you want to
impress people at parties. When you hear the term, HTML, think
web pages are written in HTML. Now, before we go any further, let me
make one thing very clear. HTML is not a programming language. It is
a MARKUP (descriptive) language. Computer programming languages
(COBOL, C++, Pascal, Basic, Fortran, etc.) are
"procedural." In other words, programs created with those
languages are simply a series of commands telling the computer to
does not tell the computer to DO anything. It describes a document.
It tells the computer that certain words in the document are bolded,
or italicized, or in a column. It can also describe the size of the
words and their color. But, unlike procedural computer languages, it
doesn't tell the computer to DO anything. Show of hands: How many of
you have used WordPerfect? Remember a little feature called
"Reveal Codes?" If you understand "reveal codes"
in WordPerfect, you'll understand HTML, because they are exactly
I had to describe HTML with one word, it would be "tags."
HTML is all about "tags." All tags begin with a
"<" (less-than sign) and end with a ">"
(greater-than sign). I think an example will make this more clear.
Here is a plain sentence without HTML:
Spellmann wrote this article.
pretend that sentence is in a web page. If I wanted to bold (make
darker) my name, I would simply put some tags around it. The new
sentence would look like this:
Spellmann</B> wrote this article.
first tag, <B>, starts bolding, and the second tag,
</B>, turns it off. Everything between the two tags will be
bolded when viewed in your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox,
Opera). Most tags have a beginning and ending version. The
"/" (slash) denotes the ending tag.
of tags exist and new ones are being introduced every day. Every
webmaster (or future webmaster) ought to invest in a great book
entitled, "HTML for Dummies." You'll find a very
comprehensive list of tags.
webmasters create their first web page without any formal training.
In fact, one of the best ways to learn HTML is to see how others use
it. Here's how: In Internet Explorer, go to your favorite web page.
Heck, go to ANY web page. With your mouse, click on the
"View" pull-down menu and choose "Source."
You are now looking at the "raw HTML" of that page. Scan
through this cryptic mess and you should see many, many tags
embedded throughout the text.
it or not, most web pages are NOT designed from scratch. Most
webmasters simply find an existing page on the Net they like and
copy it. As long as you delete all the proprietary
"content" you may use it as your own. HTML structure is
not copyrightable. For instance, if you come across a page that has
multiple columns, and you would like your page to have a similar
look, simply copy that section of code and paste it into your own!
It's that easy.
what if you don't want to take the time to learn a lot of tags. Or
what if you don't HAVE time to get up to speed on HTML? Well, many
people go out and buy web building software. This software hides the
raw HTML from the user. The user simply designs the web page as if
it were any word processing document. When they hit
"Publish," the software turns their creation into a file
containing raw HTML.
titles in this software arena include Macromedia Dreamweaver and
Microsoft Web Expressions. You don't need these programs to create
web pages, but they do make it easier.
learn more about HTML check out my three favorite sites:
now that you know the basics of HTML, how do you actually create the
page? Where does it go when you're done? What format is it written
in? Find out next week!
see you in Cyberspace!
is President & CEO of Spellmann & Associates. He can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.