Study Materials

  1. What is HTML? What are HTML files?
  2. How do I learn HTML?
  3. How do I make kickass web pages?


What is HTML? What are HTML files?


HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. HTML comprises of a number of commands that you can use to annotate your text. When viewed through a web browser, those ugly commands will not appear on screen. Instead, the commands will affect the appearance of your text. HTML files are simply text files with HTML annotations added to them.

For example, say you have a line of text:
It was a dark and stormy night.

This is how we boldface the text with HTML:
<b>It was a dark and stormy night.</b>

When viewed through a web browser, it looks like this:
It was a dark and stormy night.

Not too difficult, eh? In HTML, we call those annotations tags. You can create HTML pages in any text editor, from Microsoft® Word to Windows® Notepad. I have cooked up quick-and-dirty pages in Apple's Stickies, just like the one above. Just remember to save your files with a '.html' at the end. ('.htm' sometimes works, but it helps to be consistent)

How do I learn HTML?

Unfortunately, teaching all the nuts and bolts of HTML is beyond the scope of this class. As Ed keeps repeating, "this isn't a how-to class". However, there are some excellent primers on HTML on the web, which you should examine carefully if you want to write HTML pages for your first project.

There are many, many more on the web. Find one that's easy to read and take time to work through their tutorials and examples before starting on your own page designs.

How do I make Kickass Web Pages?

You don't really have to pull all sorts of weird HTML/Java®/cgi-bin tricks to do well in this class. Concentrate on your writing style and your ideas, rather than trying to master HTML in two weeks. A simple page with well-chosen words and sentences is much more desirable than a pretty page with little content. This applies to most web publishing, but is particularly relevant in this class. Plus, a simple web page is more likely to look consistent over many different computers and browsers, which makes presenting your page much easier.

Of course, if you're already well-versed in all sorts of web tricks and would like to use them to tell stories in a radically different way, be our guest. And by all means, put thought into the layout of your text and images. But don't obsess over the technology at the expense of your story.

The Bare Bones Guide to HTML has saved my hide over and over again. Keep it by your side when you're starting your HTML coding session.