Internet Resources: Learning HTML

If ever the cliché were appropriate, it's here: This is not rocket science. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is not hard to learn. With a few hours practice, you can learn the enough of the basics of HTML to write simple web pages. Rather than try to duplicate existing resources, I've tried to bring a variety of them together for you.

As an aside, it's interesting that HTML is actually a subset of SGML, "Standard Generalized Markup Language," a text-description language that specifies codes like bold, underline, character size, etc. Book publishers use SGML to specify how pages will look when they are laid out.

When I am working on a web page, I usually approach the project in three steps. (This is exactly how I wrote the page you're now looking at.)

Nota Bene: This page points at several sources of software that you may download. Should you have any concerns about compatibility, or need technical support, contact the owner of the page you download from.

Most current word processors (Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, etc.) have built-in HTML publishing WebConvert, which allows you to convert a variety of word processing formats, has a trial version available for free download. If you know of similar packages, please tell me!
Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 will allow you a 30 day free trial.

Adobe GoLive (part of their Creative Suite) also allows you to download a trial version.

Netscape Composer (built in to current versions of Netscape) is a free editing program. Microsoft FrontPage is popular with many. (As far as I can tell, there is no free trial version available.) If you know of similar packages, please tell me!

Those are the basics. Don't forget to spell-check when you type the basic text in your word processor; most HTML editors also include spell-checking features. There are also other useful sites on the Web that will help you fine-tune your pages. The Xenu Downloadable Link Checker will check the validity of links on an entire site; PoisonTooth LinkCheck will quickly check one page at a time.

Because your pages may be displayed on a variety of operating systems (e.g., Macintosh and Windows, and different versions of each of them), and in a variety of browsers (e.g., Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera, et al.), you should try to use colors that look good anywhere. There is a site that lists the 216 colors that work best (and their corresponding hex numbers), allowing you to view the colors on white, grey, and black backgrounds, and one that shows those colors with their RBG equivalents (useful if you want to match a graphic color to an HTML background color, etc.).

The easiest way to use special characters (symbols, accented letters, etc.) is to type them in your word processor as you normally would (my step one, above). But be aware that not every character is compatible with HTML. If you're writing your code directly, here's a chart of the HTML codes for those characters that display.

I plan to add other useful resources to this page from time to time. Feedback is very welcome!

(These links were all fully functional when this page was created. Should any problems emerge, please let me know!)