Concepts related to Web programming imply a certain complexity and terminology; that is the reason why in DESIGNER-PAGES.COM we offer you a simple guide so that the website’s programming main concepts are at anyone’s reach. With this information, you will quickly learn how a website is created and how it works.
HTML and XHTML
To begin with, we should point out that all websites are made of any of these two markup languages: HTML or XHTML. A markup language is a programming language that structures the content of a website through tags, i.e., brief descriptions about the way in which information ?text and images? and, sometimes, its visual presentation is organized. Thus, in the documents done with these languages, it appears not only the text itself but also the tags which indicate its structure.
HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the markup language that is commonly used for the creation of websites. The famous HTML markups are characterized for being indicated by triangular brackets (< >) between which an indication is given. Each opened markup must be closed at the right place, with a slash ( >) before the indication. Next we will write some examples of tags:
<BODY></BODY> It indicates the document’s main text.
<P></P> It indicates the presence of a new paragraph.
<IMG></IMG> It indicates there is an image.
<i></i> It indicates the text is in italics.
<b></b> It states the text is in boldface.
HTML has been used not only for structuring a site’s text —paragraph, titles, hyperlinks, lists, images— but also for indicating how it must visually appear for users —typefaces, body, colors, alignment, backgrounds, etc.—, through presentational tags —such as: . However, nowadays it is highly recommend it that you separate the textual structure from its presentation, leaving the latter for style sheets.
The designers who create a site using HTML use text editors —the ones that work with text without any format, such as: Notepad, Textpad, WordPad— or programs, such as Microsoft FrontPage or Adobe Dreamweaver, which they show you what you are doing while editing with HTML.
-XHTML (eXtensible HypertText Markup Language) is the markup language that comes after the HTML one. It was created to conform to the standards of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international organization that establishes the Internet’s standards. According to W3C, it is important to separate the text from the visual aspect, since this way it is easier to access the site. Therefore, this markup language serves to organize the site’s information, without adding indications about its presentation. Everything related to the visual aspect of a website is codified with a style language.
Almost every latest browser —e.g. Mozilla Firefox, Netscape, Opera— interprets XHTML. However, many times oldest versions interpret XHTML language as HTML. Another problem when using XHTML is that the Microsoft browser, Internet Explorer, does not interpret it. Besides these problems, it is widely used nowadays, since it conforms to the W3C’s standards.
One of the most popular style languages is CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Style sheets are documents in which indications about the visual aspect of the Web content are included. The most convenient thing is that these instructions are a file attached to the textual file, since, even though it is possible to include them in HTML, it is less convenient. CSS is used to codify the presentation of HMTL or XHTML texts. In these style sheets there is information about: typefaces, texts (letter-spacing, word-spacing, alignment, voice volume), colors, backgrounds and box (margins, borders, shading). There are three advantages when writing the whole visual presentation of a website using this style language:
Greater accessibility: Due to the fact that Web content can have, thanks to style language, different presentations for the different users and devices, this highly increases access to a website —i.e., a greater number of people can properly access the site. Every user can set up the site’s style sheet and thus, people with visual impairments can use the Braille system or a voice synthesizer, because both alternative methods work better when text and presentation are separated. On the other hand, a website whose visual aspect is written in CSS will be correctly viewed in any device —personal computer, mobile phone, printer and the like.
Easy update: When separating the text from the visual presentation, it is easier to make modifications and give updates both of the content and of the graphic elements.
HTML smaller size: If instead of making the presentational instructions in HTML they are done in CSS, the HTML document is smaller and, therefore, it can be easily read by browsers.
There are two types of Websites, according to the presence or lack of animated graphics ?static and dynamic Websites. A static Website is the one with presentations without any animated graphic, and which has a content without frequent changes and does not interacting with the public. All HTML or XHTML Websites are static ones. Nowadays, these sites are not so popular since they do not have the attractiveness of animated graphics or interaction, and, furthermore, because updates must be given manually with a text editor or another program and in low frequency.
Due to its attractiveness and functionality, most companies choose dynamic Websites. A dynamic Website has in its presentation animated graphics, videos and sounds, and it allows interaction with users —through surveys, forums and customization— and information update is continuous.
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