What Is HTML? Hypertext Markup Language Basics Explained

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It is a standard markup language for web page creation. It allows the creation and structure of sections, paragraphs, and links using HTML elements (the building blocks of a web page) such as tags and attributes.

HTML has a lot of use cases, namely:

  • Web development. Developers use HTML code to design how a browser displays web page elements, such as text, hyperlinks, and media files.
  • Internet navigation. Users can easily navigate and insert links between related pages and websites as HTML is heavily used to embed hyperlinks.
  • Web documentation. HTML makes it possible to organize and format documents, similarly to Microsoft Word.

It’s also worth noting that HTML is not considered a programming language as it can’t create dynamic functionality. It is now considered an official web standard. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) maintains and develops HTML specifications, along with providing regular updates.

This article will go over the basics of HTML, including how it works, its pros and cons, and how it relates to CSS and JavaScript.

 

The average website includes several different HTML pages. For instance, a home page, an about page, and a contact page would all have separate HTML files.

HTML documents are files that end with a .html or .htm extension. A web browser reads the HTML file and renders its content so that internet users can view it.

All HTML pages have a series of HTML elements, consisting of a set of tags and attributes. HTML elements are the building blocks of a web page. A tag tells the web browser where an element begins and ends, whereas an attribute describes the characteristics of an element.

The three main parts of an element are:

  • Opening tag – used to state where an element starts to take effect. The tag is wrapped with opening and closing angle brackets. For example, use the start tag <p> to create a paragraph.
  • Content – this is the output that other users see.
  • Closing tag – the same as the opening tag, but with a forward slash before the element name. For example, </p> to end a paragraph.

The combination of these three parts will create an HTML element:

Pros and Cons of HTML

Just like any other computer language, HTML has its strengths and limitations. Here are the pros and cons of HTML:

Pros:

  • Beginner-friendly. HTML has a clean and consistent markup, as well as a shallow learning curve.
  • Support. The language is widely used, with a lot of resources and a large community behind it.
  • Accessible. It is open-source and completely free. HTML runs natively in all web browsers.
  • Flexible. HTML is easily integrable with backend languages such as PHP and Node.js.

Cons:

  • Static. The language is primarily used for static web pages. For dynamic functionality, you may need to use JavaScript or a back-end language such as PHP.
  • Separate HTML page. Users have to create individual web pages for HTML, even if the elements are the same.
  • Browser compatibility. Some browsers adopt new features slowly. Sometimes older browsers don’t always render newer tags.

HTML is used to add text elements and create the structure of content. However, it is not enough to build a professional and fully responsive website. So, HTML needs the help of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and JavaScript to create the vast majority of website content.

CSS is responsible for stylings such as background, colors, layouts, spacing, and animations. On the other hand, JavaScript adds dynamic functionality such as sliders, pop-ups, and photo galleries. These three languages are the fundamentals of front-end development.