Before getting into what exactly HTML is, let’s briefly go over Web Standards. When the World Wide Web was first “invented” by a group of pretty awesome people at the W3C (the people who regulate the “rules of the web.” ) The pioneer of all this, Tim Berners-Lee, wanted to standardize the code that browsers used to display the contents of a website.
Now this wasn’t to make Berners-Lee and his friends have all the power and treat it like a dictatorship. It was basically a set of “rules” that were made so there is not millions of different ways of coding flying around the Internet. In essence, it helps browsers be able to display code properly and in the manner intended. If everyone had their own way of coding and coding language, browsers would never be able to keep up with everyone’s various codes.
Web standards help make sure everyone has access, including those with disabilities such as being blind or deaf, to the web and also helps with search engine optimization, so search engines like Google can index your website appropriately. These standards and “rules” (which you don’t have to follow, but you should if you want to ensure people see what you want them to) help the web to be able to survive and stay functional without chaos, but at the same time allow for innovation and exploration.
Now that we know a little background about the web, let’s get into the fun stuff. HTML
HTML (hypertext markup language) is basically a text file that is written and then read by browsers to display the contents of a web page just like the one you’re looking at right now.
The latest buzz in the web world is HTML5. HTML5 is the fifth revision in HTML. It began development in 2004. It is being made and developed to replace its precursors HTML4.01 and XHTML, and aims to improve the support across all browsers and yes, that means even the dreaded Internet Explorer (it’s about time they get with the program!) So in the long term it will help browsers all render code correctly and in uniform fashion. It is still in the working phase right now but it set to be fully implemented and the recommended markup language by 2014.
Hurrah! This means less work for web developers because less time will have to be spent making sure websites appear the same across multiple browsers which in turn means it will cost less money for those paying for web development. Win, Win!
So is HTML5 a completely different language?
No, it’s more of what you could called an “updated” version. It has gotten rid of tags that are outdated and not used and implemented new tags.
For example, the old way to code the menu for a website would be something like:
Here is the new way with HTML5:
Seems pretty similar, but what using <nav> instead of <div id=”Nav”> does, besides saving the developer a little time, is that it tells search engines that, “Hey—I’m part of the menu of a website, and everything listed in here are the pages that this website holds”—It makes it easier for people like Google to get a better idea of what your website has to offer for people surfing the web.
Other new tags that serve a similar purpose are: <header> <article> <footer>.
You can see a full list of what is new tags are offered, which ones are no longer supported, and tags that are still compatible here.
Besides the technical stuff and the reasons behind these new tags, HTML5 is going to allow for tremendous innovation and creativity throughout the web design world, and will allow for designers and developers to more easily accomplish what they have only dreamed of doing.