Pages on the World Wide Web (WWW, or the Web) are special document files written in HyperText Markup Language, HTML. HTML documents are ASCII text files, much like program files in programming languages such as FORTRAN, BASIC or C. HTML documents can be composed and edited with tools ranging from ordinary text editors to more complex (and convenient) specialty HTML editors.
If you can stand to wait a while to see what
an actual HTML document looks like, you can skip this paragraph
by clicking here. If you just can't wait,
go to the View menu on your browser and choose the Source item. In the source document, find this sentence
and continue reading the Source of this paragraph so that you
can observe a few things about HTML documents. Besides the readable
text, note that there are several instances of and
, which instructs the browser to start a new line. (The
andthat mark the beginning and end of this particular paragraph, and all others in the document. Note also the and pair that set off the heading of the document, a place where the browser can find special information that is not displayed as part of the document. For the current document, the browser finds little special information in the heading except the document title, set off by
tag standing alone at the beginning of paragraphs.) Note that browsers ignore white space and paragraph markers (much as compilers and interpreters of program text files do). Instead, browsers pay attention to
tags. White space and ordinary paragraph markers are used mainly to improve the readability of the HTML document. Browsers are not sensitive to the case in which the tags are written, so
have the same effect. The matter of the case in which HTML tags are written is thus largely a matter of style and hence can be the subject of heated debate. The best news about all of this is that with the capability of word processors to save documents in the HTML format and with the availability of powerful HTML editors, you will not need to remember how to insert very many different tags in an HTML document. Much of that work will be done for you. Now please close the Source view and return to the ordinary view of this document in your browser. (Because the preceding paragraphs are meant to be read in the Source view, you may notice that they look a little funny in the regular browser view.)
To make the HTML documents visible on the Web, they must be posted on a WWW server, usually a workstation or desktop computer that runs special WWW software and is connected to the Internet. You can usually count on someone else to post the HTML files on an appropriate WWW server once you have prepared them. Thus, these interactive notes focus on helping you learn how to produce HTML files that present interactive technical documents, including archival journal articles, conference papers and notes written for students.
If you can use a recent version of a word processor such as Microsoft
Word or Wordperfect, you can easily learn to prepare interactive HTML technical documents. As the name suggests, a central purpose
of HTML documents is to make it easy to include hyperlinks
to, for instance, other document files. For example, click on this link
to display another simple HTML document. You can easily learn
how to display mathematical equations,
graphics and utilize
image maps and
video clips, in HTML documents.
Links can also be used to jump between points in the same document.
You can even construct a hyperlink that will display the contents of a folder or directory so that a user can open files by clicking on them. If you did not choose to view the HTML source when you began reading this document, for example, you should
click here to return to that point in the document.