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Educational Technologies Center for Life Sciences

Introduction to HTML

What is HTML anyway?

HTML stands for Hypertext markup language, which is a set of codes or "tags" that you use in your documents that instruct the user's web browser how to interpret and display your document, which you have placed on a web server for viewing on the World Wide Web.

Will we use an Editor?

No. We will not use an HTML editor - such as BBEdit or Homesite - nor will we use a WYSIWYG page editor - such as Frontpage, GoLive, Word or Dreamweaver. Instead you will interact directly with the code - in true "hands-on" fashion. Once you're on your own and comfortable with constructing HTML tags, you'll have a firmer foundation on which to reach intelligent decisions on whether or not you need a editor at all or what features will suit you best. I hate to sound like my old Latin teacher here, but this is a rapidly evolving field, and a solid background in the foundations of HTML coding by hand will serve you well. A couple of arguments in favor of "doing it the old fashioned way" are 1) Your page code will be cleaner, free of quirks and propriatory tags that so many of these editors insist on including and 2) others who might share in the updating of the site will be able to read the code and understand your site design more easily. It's not that hard - I promise.

Will others be able to see my work before it's ready?

At first, you'll just work "locally" on the hard drive of the lab computer and no one else will be able to view your page from the Web. Later we'll upload our files onto the Life Science web server, using a temporary space created for these classes. After that you'll be able to view your page from any computer with a web browser and access to the internet, and download it to your own computer to work on outside of class.

Then how does this work?

The process involves creating the text and the HTML markup tags in Simpletext, a generic word processor on the Mac which saves in plain text format, then viewing the result with Internet Explorer. If you work on a PC, Notepad is the equivalent. You will work with two applications running and two documents open at the the same time - editing in Simpletext, saving, opening or "reloading" in IE. Experience has shown that many of us do not take advantage of our computer's ability to work with multiple documents open, so for these users it might seem a little complicated at first. You'll soon become comfortable with the technique, however.

© 2004 - E. Barbara Meyer - EdTech Center - Life Sciences - University of Illinois - Urbana, IL USA