Screen showing HTML code

What is HTML5?

Posted on: May 31, 2022

HTML5 is the final version that was released of HTML, which is the hypertext markup language used in the building and structuring of content to be displayed on web pages. Those who use it can also utilise coding such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and scripting languages such as Javascript alongside it.

At the time it was launched, HTML5’s biggest benefit was that it was much faster and far more responsive than previous iterations. It facilitated better functionality such as being able to add video and audio elements into web pages without having to embed them as applications and also without users needing plugins like Flash to access them. HTML5 introduced application programming interfaces (APIs) for determining geolocations, web storage, and drag and drop capabilities amongst others. This brought it up-to-speed with cross-platform mobile apps especially as its features were designed with low-powered devices in mind.

In 2014, HTML5 received recommendation from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which is the international standards organisation for the World Wide Web. The organisation provided guidance on consistency and compatibility of different versions of HTML under the leadership of Tim Berners-Lee.

The current specification of HTML5 is referred to as HTML Living Standard and no longer uses version numbers. This is because the concept of a living standard is that it is never complete and is always being updated and improved through continuous iterations.

HTML Living Standard is maintained by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG). WHATWG is a community of individuals from Apple Inc., the Mozilla Foundation, Google, and Microsoft interested in the evolution of HTML. When people talk about HTML5 in the context of the WHATWG, they are usually simply referring to the latest updates on HTML, not necessarily a specific version.

HTML and CSS are technically not programming languages; they’re just a way to convey information on page structure and style. As W3C defines it, HTML provides the structure of the page, CSS the (visual and aural) layout. But before learning true languages like JavaScript, it’s recommended to understand the basics of HTML and CSS, as they represent the frontend of every web page and app.

What are HTML tags?

Tim Berners-Lee published a document called HTML Tags in late 1991, which contained the original 18 elements used in a basic, principal design of HTML. HTML creates structured documents through the use of semantics for text such as headings, paragraphs, lists, links, and quotes amongst others.

An HTML page is composed of nested HTML elements that web browsers and parsers can “read” in order to load up text, images, and audio and visual components that the user then sees or hears on navigating to a URL. The elements are indicated by tags for example:

  • The text between <html> and </html> describes the web page
  • The text between <body> and </body> is the visible content
  • The text between <title> and </title> is the browser page title shown on browser tabs and window titles
  • The text between <p> and </p> indicates a paragraph of text
  • he text between <h1> and </h1> provides the main header for the page’s content

HTML headers run from <h1> to <h6> in order of priority with the size of the font changing accordingly. More importantly, <h1>, <h2>, and <h3> can be used to strategically contain valuable SEO keywords when optimising a web page. 

What is XHTML?

XHTML is a variant of HTML that uses the syntax of XML, which stands for Extensible Markup Language. There are hundreds of XML languages in use including GML (Geography Markup Language), MathML, MusicML, and RSS (Really Simple Syndication).

XHTML uses all the same elements as HTML but the syntax differs slightly and every tag and attribute has to be in lower case. It’s also a requirement that start and end tags are always included and the doctype declaration is placed at the beginning of the code. Because XHTML is an XML application, you can use other XML tools with it such as XSLT, a language for transforming XML content or changing it into HTML format.

XHTML5 is simply XML-serialised HTML5 data, meaning HTML5 written within the constraints of XHTML’s strict requirements, sent with one of the XML media types. HTML written to conform to both HTML and XHTML specifications – and so producing the same Document Object Model (DOM) tree whether parsed as HTML or XML – is known as polyglot markup.

What is CSS?

CSS describes the presentation of web pages, including its colours, layout, and fonts. It also facilitates adaptations of the presentation for different types of devices, such as monitors, laptops, tablets, and mobiles. 

CSS is independent of HTML and can be used with XML-based markup languages. Because HTML and CSS are separate, it makes it easier to maintain sites, share stylesheets across pages, and tailor pages to different environments. This is referred to as the separation of structure from presentation.

What is JavaScript?

If HTML offers structure and CSS provides the presentation elements, JavaScript allows the website to operate. 

Program code written in JavaScript doesn’t need preprocessing before being run and executed by the browser. Scripting makes web pages more dynamic, for example, allowing information from the user’s environment, such as current location or address book details to be added without the page having to reload.

Stay at the cutting edge with a master’s

The world of web development exists in a space of continuous improvement with democratic, open-source frameworks for software and applications. With an online MSc Computer Science from the University of Wolverhampton, you can explore a range of tools used to build web applications such as HTML5, CSS3, and Ajax. 

You’ll also learn about the latest advances in the field of web development such as accessibility, semantic-friendliness, and mobile-friendliness. Every step of your learning will be underpinned by an in-depth understanding of the standards and technologies required to build modern web applications. 

You’ll also become familiar with a range of web-authoring tools including server-side scripting languages, web frameworks and content management systems. Find out how to register and you could be on the way to advancing your career knowledge today.

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