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Exploring HTML references

From: Up and Running with HTML

Video: Exploring HTML references

Although the syntax of HTML is relatively simple to learn, there are still a lot of elements, attributes, and other concepts that you're going to need to learn and keep track of. While this course is intended to introduce you to HTML, it's not designed to teach you every single element and attribute. So, with that in mind, I want to give you a couple of online HTML resources that can really help you as you begin learning HTML and can serve as a valuable reference for you later on, as you begin authoring your own pages. And I want to start with the specifications themselves.

Exploring HTML references

Although the syntax of HTML is relatively simple to learn, there are still a lot of elements, attributes, and other concepts that you're going to need to learn and keep track of. While this course is intended to introduce you to HTML, it's not designed to teach you every single element and attribute. So, with that in mind, I want to give you a couple of online HTML resources that can really help you as you begin learning HTML and can serve as a valuable reference for you later on, as you begin authoring your own pages. And I want to start with the specifications themselves.

Now, there are three main flavors of HTML that, as you begin learning HTML, you'll need to concern yourself with. The first is the specification we're looking at right now, which is the HTML 4.0 Specification. This is sort of if you will the Bedrock, the foundation of modern HTML, and it's largely what people are authoring when they write HTML these days. This is probably the most common form of HTML being used. If you've never looked at a specification before, I'm going to give you a brief little overview of that and then I'll show you couple of the other specifications that you'll need to bookmark.

This one can be found at the w3.org site. At the very top of each specification you'll find a table of contents, and a lot of times you'll be able to click and find what you need directly here. But this is a really big overview. For example, if you want to learn more about formatting text, of course you're going to go to the section on text. Now when you jump to the section within a specification you'll get another table of contents that essentially sort of breaks it down in a little bit more detail. So if I wanted to learn more about creating paragraphs for example, I can simply click here for the paragraphs, the P element, and it's going to jump to that section of the specification.

If you've never looked to the specification before, this can be a little confusing, so bear with me. Essentially what this is showing you, it's showing you the syntax of the paragraph. We have some information about it, for example, that we know the Start tag for the paragraph is required. We can see that an End tag for this is optional, which is interesting, but it is. And then we can also see that there are certain attributes that are allowed on the paragraph tags. So once you get comfortable with reading through a specification, it's pretty easy to pick up the information that you're looking for.

The most difficult part, really, of reading through the specification is knowing where to look to try to find what you're looking for. So I want to show you one more thing, and to do that I'm going to have to go back a little bit. I want to go back to the top of the specification. If I scroll down through the spec, at the end of almost every specification you'll find a couple of indexes for the HTML specifications. And you can see here we have an Index of Elements and an Index of Attributes. So if you're looking for a specific element and you don't know where in all of this to find it, this is a good place to start.

I can simply click here and now I have a list of every single HTML element. And if I want to learn more about that element, all I have to do is click on it. Of course we have a definition for the element and then we have quick information, such as is a starting and ending tag required? is this empty or does it contain content? things like that. So again, if I scroll down and say, hey, I want to learn more about the H1 element, clicking on that is going to take me directly to that spot in the specification, which is very, very nice. So using that as a reference, you can sort of quickly find what you're looking for within the specification.

Now, this is the HTML 4.0 Specification. There are a couple of more that you need to be aware of. One is the XHTML 1.0. Some people are still using XHTML, and really XHTML is just sort of reformatted syntax of HTML 4.0. There were some tags that were taken out, but there really wasn't anything added. And really, if you're focusing on XHTML, what you should be focusing on is syntax. And in fact, if we go down through the table of contents you can see, it's not quite as big as the HTML 4.0 Specification. We even have a section right here that highlights the differences that will go over some of the syntax issues.

The next speciation of course is one that you've probably heard a lot about and that would be HTML5. Now, the HTML5 specification hosted by the W3C, or the World Wide Web Consortium, was adopted from the group WHATWG, which we'll take a look at their specification in just a moment. But essentially, they try to do them in parallel, but their processes are dramatically different. The W3C really focuses on getting a stable implementation of a specification. So they're going to put it out in several different versions like working drafts, candidate recommendations, proposed recommendations. They have all these steps they go through.

And when they get to that Finished Recommendation level, the specification is considered to be very stable and it's considered to be implemented across the board. The WHATWG, on the other hand, they want to keep evolving it, so they've basically adopted what they call a living standard, and I'll talk more about that a little bit later on. But again, if we're looking at the HTML5 specification for the W3C, you can see it's quite large. There is a very big table of contents. And you might be wondering, hey, I just want to know what the differences are between the HTML 4 and HTML5, there is a document that goes over that on the w3.org.

So if you just go to their site and search for differences between the HTML5 and HTML 4, you'll find that document. It's a little bit more succinct, and it shows you which elements have been added, which elements have been removed, and some of the syntax differences. The WHATWG edition of it, or the Web Hypertext Applications Working Group, you can see their specification looks a little bit different. I'm showing you not the full specification; I'm showing you the developer's edition. And what this is, essentially, it's got all the stuff that they put in there for browser developers and people that build browsers, it's got all the stuff yanked out, because as a author, you're probably not as interested in the specific parsing rules for the HTML5 outline algorithm. You just want to know kind of what's in the spec.

So this is kind of stripped down and it's more for developers and authors. You can see the table of contents isn't quite that long. And it's formatted a little bit differently. So you know if you jump down into a certain section, you're going to see the formatting is a little bit different than the W3C's. I think it's a little bit easier to read, to be quite honest with you. Now, becoming familiar with these specifications is incredibly important, and particularly for those of you whose goal is to become a web designer. But I will admit to you that they are not the easiest thing in the world to read. And remember, they are written more for the people that will be building the browsers or designing those user agents, so the terminology inside of them and the formatting can be a little confusing.

So with that in mind, I want to show you a couple of HTML resources that can serve for you as more of a quick reference as you're learning HTML. So the first one I want to show to you is still on the W3C site, and it is HTML: The Markup Language. You can find that again, w3.org/TR/html-markup. And the great thing about this is it's just one big reference. If I go through the table of contents, you can see they have some information about HTML syntax, how elements are organized by function, HTML elements, so this is a really great place to go learn some specifics. But they also have a list of all of the HTML elements, and again, if you go to one of these elements and click on it, you get a little bit more information about that.

And the information is presented maybe a little bit more clearly than it is in the actual specification. So it's still really kind of the same information; it's just presented in a slightly different way that's a little bit more readable. And the next site that I really recommend bookmarking is the Mozilla Developer Network. This entire section of their site is just fantastic in terms of learning a resource, but they have a page specifically dedicated to HTML. And what's nice about this, again, if you scroll through this they have a nice introduction to HTML that goes over some of the basics of the syntax, and they also have an HTML element reference and an attribute list.

So, if I go to the element reference, I get this big page that has all these different elements on it. And I can scroll down through it. What's really nice about this, they're showing you which elements are new in HTML5. So that's nice. Anytime you see that icon beside it, you know that this is an HTML5 element. It wasn't available in HTML4. And again, if you click on an element, you're going to get information about that element presented in a very clear fashion, and they actually show you some examples with it as well, which goes into a little bit more detail than the specifications. So this is a really good place to start when you're looking for a very quick reference.

Be sure to check out the "Additional resources" movie at the end of this course. In that movie I'm going to go over a few more resources that can help you dig even deeper into learning HTML.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Up and Running with HTML
Up and Running with HTML

49 video lessons · 26800 viewers

James Williamson
Author

 
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  1. 2m 12s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 17s
  2. 29m 30s
    1. Learning HTML
      2m 47s
    2. Choosing a code editor
      5m 2s
    3. Exploring basic HTML syntax
      8m 18s
    4. Do I need to learn HTML5?
      5m 6s
    5. Exploring HTML references
      8m 17s
  3. 35m 40s
    1. Exploring an HTML document
      5m 19s
    2. Working with doctype declarations
      4m 3s
    3. Examining the document head
      8m 20s
    4. Looking at the document body
      3m 21s
    5. Adding document structure
      8m 52s
    6. Lab: Coding a basic page
      3m 9s
    7. Solution: Coding a basic page
      2m 36s
  4. 1h 23m
    1. How does HTML format text?
      5m 51s
    2. Adding headings
      7m 24s
    3. Formatting paragraphs
      4m 54s
    4. Controlling line breaks
      3m 50s
    5. Creating lists
      10m 37s
    6. Emphasizing text
      6m 42s
    7. Displaying special characters
      5m 8s
    8. Controlling whitespace
      4m 35s
    9. Inserting images
      9m 20s
    10. Lab: Controlling page content
      13m 57s
    11. Solution: Controlling page content
      10m 55s
  5. 31m 54s
    1. Linking to pages within your site
      6m 45s
    2. Linking to external pages
      3m 2s
    3. Linking to downloadable resources
      2m 25s
    4. Linking to page regions
      8m 0s
    5. Lab: Creating Links
      5m 57s
    6. Solution: Creating Links
      5m 45s
  6. 40m 27s
    1. Examining basic table structure
      5m 10s
    2. Adding content to tables
      6m 20s
    3. Setting table attributes
      7m 42s
    4. Adding table captions
      4m 3s
    5. Defining table headers
      2m 13s
    6. Making table data accessible
      5m 46s
    7. Lab: Building tables
      4m 13s
    8. Solution: Building tables
      5m 0s
  7. 43m 23s
    1. Understanding the relationship between HTML and CSS
      4m 58s
    2. Creating inline styles
      4m 53s
    3. Exploring the style element
      5m 13s
    4. Basic font styling
      9m 24s
    5. Changing color
      4m 55s
    6. Taking styles further
      5m 24s
    7. Lab: Controlling basic styles
      5m 10s
    8. Solution: Controlling basic styles
      3m 26s
  8. 5m 44s
    1. Next steps
      2m 56s
    2. Additional resources
      2m 48s

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