Hypertext Markup Language: Software to Create Web Pages

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  • 0:07 HTML
  • 2:34 Web Design Software
  • 4:52 Cascading Style Sheets
  • 5:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Paul Zandbergen

Paul is a GIS professor at Vancouver Island U, has a PhD from U of British Columbia, and has taught stats and programming for 15 years.

Web pages are created using HyperText Markup Language, or HTML. Learn how HTML uses tags to display information in a web browser and how web design software makes it easy to develop a website without having to become an HTML expert.


A web page is an electronic document that stores text, graphics, video and other information, which is made available on the World Wide Web. A website is a collection of web pages. Web pages are created using HyperText Markup Language, or HTML. HTML is the principal markup language used to create structured documents for display in a web browser. A markup language is a collection of symbols and special terms used to specify the contents of a document. HTML is one of several different types of markup languages.

HTML resembles a regular text file but with added features. Most importantly, HTML uses tags. Tags describe how a particular element should be represented. A typical tag looks something like this:

<p>This is a paragraph.</p>

These types of brackets are called angle brackets. HTML tags almost always come in pairs. The first of these tags is known as the opening, or start, tag, and the second one is the closing, or end, tag. Notice how the closing tag uses a forward slash to indicate the end. The specific tag used here indicates a paragraph. Whatever is between the tags is the actual information to be displayed, in this case as a paragraph. There are tags for just about everything you typically see on a web page, including tags for text formatting, images, links, forms, tables, etc. There are more than one hundred different tags in HTML.

A web browser reads the HTML file and recognizes the tags. The tags themselves are not shown but tell the browser how to display the information between the opening and closing tags. The purpose of a web browser, therefore, is to read HTML documents and display the contents as instructed by the tags.

If a web page is slow to load, you sometimes see the individual elements download and display in sequence. For example, the HTML tag for an image is downloaded, and this shows up as an empty box. Only when the image itself is downloaded does it appear in the box.

Web Design Software

In the early days of the World Wide Web, web pages were created by creating HTML pages using regular text editors. You can create an HTML document by saving a plain text file with the file extension .HTML. Specific text editors for HTML have been developed that make it easier to create correct tags. In a typical workflow, a web designer would create an HTML document in a text editor and then preview the page in a web browser to check how the page looked.

The next stage in web design is the emergence of WYSIWYG editors for HTML. This acronym stands for What You See Is What You Get. In this type of software, the editing interface closely resembles how the page is displayed in a web browser. This makes it a lot easier to design web pages since you don't have to guess what your HTML code is going to look like in a browser. The added benefit of this software is that it requires no HTML coding skills to get started, making web design much more accessible. However, some software applications that use a WYSIWYG approach also allow you to work with the actual HTML code, giving experienced web designers more options. Some of the most widely used web design software in this category includes Dreamweaver by Adobe, iWeb by Apple, Expression Web by Microsoft and NetObjects Fusion by NetObjects.

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