What Is HTML?

What is HTML? You've probably heard that term before. You may be vaguely familiar with it and know that it has something to do with code and the internet. But maybe that's where your knowlege stops. In this video I'm going to explain HTML and why it's so important and even suggest that you learn it.


HTML is the foundation of the internet. Any web site or web app that you open was built using HTML. You probably interact with HTML thousands of times a day without even noticing it. Some of the apps you open on your phone were written using HTML. The digital kiosk at the mall. The digital billboard you pass on your way to work. Even the menu at your local MacDonalds—all of them likely have some HTML below the surface.


But HTML is actually really simple. It’s NOT a programming language, and you don't have to be some kind of developer or super genius to understand it. It was actually initially designed for writers, and it's very easy for anyone to understand.


HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. The important word there is the word "markup." The main job of HTML is to take text and "mark it up" or let a browser or other device know what its purpose is.


Let's imagine you have a page full of text that all looks the same but it's not the same. Most of it is paragraphs. Some of it is headings. Some of it might be bullet points. Some of it may even be links to other documents.


Now imagine that you could take a red pen and circle the paragraphs and mark them with a P for paragraph. You could circle the top level headings and mark them H1, you could do the same for the subheadings and label them H2, H3, etc. You could circle the bullet points and mark them LI for list item. Maybe you could come up with some marking for links to other documents and write out an address for where you want those links to go to.


That's exactly what HTML does. Every website starts as a blank page of text and HTML let's you "mark up" the text so the web browser knows what it is.


Only, instead of circling text, you enclose it in something called tags. The starting tag for a paragraph looks like this <p> and the ending tag looks like this </p>. When the browser sees those tags it knows not to show them to the user and to treat everything between them as a single paragraph.

Tags for headings look like this <h1> </h1> or this <h2> </h2>. Tags for individual bullet points look like this <li></li> and then you wrap the whole list in either <ol></ol> for a numbered (or ordered) list or <ul></ul> for an bulleted (or unordered) list.


Then there are special tags that tell the browser how to treat text as a link. How to find images, video or audio files and put them on the page. There are even tags that tell the browser what section of the page each part of the text belongs to.


Thats the basis of HTML. It's super simple.


There is just one more basic thing you should know about HTML and how it works on the web:


HTML serves as the basic structure of a website. But it doesn't do anything and it doesn't look pretty.


If we were comparing a website to your house, HTML would just be the 2 x 4 studs. They are foundational and they hold up your house. But no one wants to live in a house that's just 2 x 4s. You need plumbing, electrical, drywall, and hopefully, paint and carpet.


On a website, it starts with HTML, but if you want that HTML to DO anything, you need to add Javascript or interact with some kind of server script using forms. If you want that site to look pretty then you need to add something called CSS.


HTML provides ways for Javascript and CSS to work with it. But that's another lesson.


Speaking of lessons, if you'd like to learn about launching a software project, I've created a free course over at softwarecrashcourse.com. It's seven free lessons that walks you through everything I wish I knew when I tried to start my first software project. Again, it's totally free so head over to softwarecrashcourse.com today and signup.


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