It is a markup language that is human readable, yet can be efficiently parsed. It alllows a number of formatting elements, that have been designed to emphasize contents, but it is not a layout description language. And it is designed to integrate text, images and hyperlinks. The basic principle is that a document contains contents and tags.The contents is written to a page that is displayed by your browser. The tags modify the properties of the contents or perform other functions.
Many very good tutorials exist on the web. Here are three recommendations:
- W3Schools (edit and test HTML directly in your browser)
- HTML Goodies (very basic)
- HTML Code Tutorial (a bit more technical)
Be wary of WYSIWIG (what you see is what you get) programs. For one, they are not (usually). Another reason is that they often write awful code which is really hard to maintain. These are a quick-and-dirty solutions. In particular, stay away from MS Word: such code is almost uneditable. Here is a HTML rendition of a simple seminar announcement by Microsoft Word. Look at the source ! Here is a plain HTML version of the same seminar announcement written by hand. Again, look at the source !
An alternative to WYSIWIG editors are HTML source editors. In my experience these are very useful. But the number of mistakes you as a novice may make can be intimidating. Once you have mastered the basics though, you will find source editors to be more flexible and to give you better control.
Recently I have adopted Dreamweaver as my editor of choice. But freeware/shareware editors are really quite good to.
Most programs you may need can be downloaded as shareware. You will need an HTML editor and an image editor. Useful shareware examples for the Mac are:
Both are excellent, feature-rich, stable programs that.