Electronic Documents
part 2 - Hypertext Markup Language

by Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA

electronic documents

HTML is a simple language with simple rules. It is also limited in the types of information it can convey

part 1 - intro 

part 2 - HTML 

part 3 - XML 

part 4 - e-docs and CSI 

part 5 - aecXML developments 


Hypertext markup language (HTML) is the language of the Internet. People in virtually every country, speaking a wide variety of languages, use it; computers using Apple, UNIX, Windows, DOS, and other operating systems also use it.

HTML uses a relatively small set of precisely defined codes, called tags, which tell an Internet browser how to arrange things on a computer screen. A standard set of rules is used to interpret this code, so all browsers are able to show the same image regardless of computer, operating system, or spoken language. Even though the tags are English words, the text inside can be in any language, so HTML is not restricted to English.

Tags usually exist in pairs, that is, there is a tag that says, “this is the beginning” and another that says, “this is the end”. A pair acts as a container, and containers may be “nested” or placed one within another.

A basic web page might look like this:

		<title>Page Title</title>
		<p>Body text.</p>

The first tag, <html>, says “this is the beginning of an html document” so the browser knows which markup languages is being used. The other half of this pair, </html>, marks the end of the document.

The next pair of tags, <head> and </head>, contains information that does not appear in the browser window. This information is often used to help search engines decide what is in the document.

What you see in the browser window is described between the <body> and </body> tags. Paragraphs are defined by the tag pair <p> and </p>.

Other tags, such as <img src=“nicepicture.jpg”>, tell the browser to show a picture, play a sound, or take the browser to another page. Many tags also have modifiers. 

Changing the last example to 
<img src=“nicepicture.jpg” width=“50” height=“100”> 
would tell the browser to make the picture 50 pixels wide and 100 pixels tall, regardless of the picture's actual size.

And that's about all we have to know about HTML. It is a simple language, with simple codes and simple rules. It is also limited in the types of information it can convey. And that is where extensible markup language (XML) comes in.

© 2000 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA
on the web at www.CSI-MSP.org 

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