Why is HTML better than a word processing format for the Internet?
Any browser can display any HTML document.
Text will wrap to fit the space available for display.
Actual appearance of the page on the viewer's monitor or when printed is not known by the author and cannot be completely controlled by the author. (This drives many authors crazy!)
Older browsers do not understand newer HTML codes.
The rules for HTML grow and change constantly. Authors of browsers invent new features. The standards committees and the browser authors must both race to catch up with each other. The organization W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium) publishes recommendations (also called standards) for each version of HTML. The most current finished version is HTML 5., which was finalized in 2014. Most browsers supported many of the new features long before the standard is actually finalized.
New features are introduced with each new HTML Version. HTML 2.0 introduced forms and HTML 3.2 introduced tables.
With HTML 4.0 authors can take advantage of features like:
In HTML5 has some new tags:
These advanced features are worth textbooks of their own. Cascading Style Sheets have become standard for handling the formatting of a web page, so the basics of CSS will be included in these lessons, but we will not be dealing with scripts at all. If you already have some knowledge of HTML, you might want to take a peek at my Cascading Style Sheets Demo (updated 2016) and my Web Scripting Demo (updated 2016).
As new tags and methods are added, older features are eventually phased out and deprecated. This awkward word means that future HTML standards will not include the deprecated tag at all. Eventually browsers may not even recognize it. Thus, an HTML author has a problem with no perfect solution. Old code tags may eventually not work in newer browsers while older browsers do not understand the cool new features.
Can you predict what browser and which version of it will be used to view your web pages? If so, your authoring life will be easier! Most web authors, however, must try to write pages that will display at least fairly well in any browser at all.
Working with web pages is different from working with printed documents. The author of an ordinary document on paper knows the size and color of the paper. He can make specific choices about the color and size of the text, width of the margins, where a page breaks, etc. He can know what the results will be. An HTML author cannot know exactly how the document will be displayed on the viewer's monitor. There are many factors involved.
The table below shows some of the things that will be different for different people who are viewing the same HTML page. These characteristics often make a difference in how an HTML document displays on a monitor.
|Computer type||PC, Mac, main frame, tablet, smart phone…|
|Operating system||Windows (many different versions), System 7, Unix, Linux, OS X, Droid…|
|Monitor size||Desktop, lap-top, tablet, hand-held device...|
|Color depth||Gray scale, 16 colors, 256 colors, 16 million colors…|
|Screen resolution||640 x 480, 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 640 x 332…|
|Window size||Full screen or any size smaller than that|
|Display hardware||Screen, speaker, Braille pad|
|Navigation hardware||Keyboard, mouse, voice, stylus, touch screen|
|Browser||Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari…(a variety of versions for each)|
|Customized browser settings||Custom choices for the default fonts, font size, text color, background color, link colors, images shown or not, personal style sheet|
|Fonts||Browser default font will be used if the font you use in the HTML code is not on the computer. Mac and PC computers usually have different fonts! Smart phones and tablets have different fonts than the ones available on PCs and Macs.|
In theory, any browser can display any HTML document in a
way that makes sense, though it may not be pretty.
This will work if:
When these conditions are met, the different parts of the document are shown in a way that is suitable for the particular equipment and the viewer's personal needs. The page author does not have to worry about what equipment is used to view the page or what customized settings the browser has. Super!!
In reality, there are problems.
Creative minds have expanded what HTML can do, what browsers can do, and what computers can do. It is hard to keep things simple any more. So be forewarned - the HTML pages that you write may not work well for everyone. Keep it as simple as you can to let the most people use your page.
In most browsers for Windows, the default serif font is Times New Roman and the default non-serif font is Arial. Non-Windows computers may not have these fonts. The browser will substitute its own default fonts.
For example, Android comes with only three fonts: Droid Sans, Droid Serif, and Droid Sans Mono.
The iPhone comes with several fonts, including: American Typewriter, American
Typewriter Condensed, Arial, Arial Rounded MT Bold, Courier New, Georgia,
Helvetica, Marker Felt, Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Zapfino.
PDF of how these iPhone fonts look The page shows all Mac fonts and labels the one for iPhones with a white F in a green square.