From the Archives

I am going through some old hard drives and found some golden oldies, including an Intro to HTML document I wrote. It’s really just too good not to share. So behold, How to Learn HTML, circa 2000, excerpts for your enjoyment.

A Crash Course in HTML

Before I start, I would like to stress the point that I am no expert. I just know the basic concepts of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and I know how to write it to make this site. Yes, I write out all the raw HTML for Deeper Into Black with the help of any programs. Why? Because I like to write it and because it’s much easier to customize. Since I’ve only been learning html and JavaScript since Nov. 1999,  I remember all the questions and problems I had when I started, so it’ll be much easier for me to help you!

An HTML document can be identified two ways: it is surrounded by the <HTML></HTML> tags, and has .htm or .html as the document type in the address bar. All HTML codes are surrounded by the < > brackets. There are a few important things to remember when you are attempting to make a web site with HTML.

It is nothing like making a Microsoft Word document or any other word processor on your computer. Every tiny thing must have a code. Everything has to spelled out exactly- every return, every image placement, EVERYTHING.

Different browsers (Netscape, IE, etc) interpret the codes, along with mistakes in the codes, differently. Everyone has different modem speeds. Different computers have different processors with different speeds. Not everyone has a DSL line with a Lynex processor. Sorry. What’s the importance of this? If you have 5 billion images on your site that upload fast on your computer, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be fast on someone else’s. They will give up and go elsewhere.  It also means you have to be extra careful in making sure you use the right codes and you spell everything out exactly how you want it.

Learning HTML takes a long time. A very long time. It takes perseverance. If you think you’re going to learn it in a few weeks, you are very wrong unless you’re some kind of genius.

HTML is limited; there are many codes and scripts other than HTML.

Going along with #4 on the list, let me clarify what HTML will and won’t do. Almost everything on Deeper Into Black is done with HTML, except for some JavaScript here and there. HTML sets up the page- the fonts, the tables, the hyperlinks, the images, and the general look of things. That’s it. Notice the parts of the site that aren’t hosted on Angelfire, i.e. the Guestbook, the Forum, the Submissions page. CSS, Perl/CGI, etc. are used. What’s the difference? CGI can take information- like your entry in a guestbook- and post it on another page. HTML cannot do this. And let me emphasize that I do not know how to use any of these codes- if you want to get them you will often have to pay. If you learn how to use them and your site is hosted on a free web-hosting site like Angelfire, Geocities, and Xoom, you will need access to a cgi-bin, and most them you will not. So, in other words, it’s very complicated. ☺

Writing HTML-the look

All HTML tags have brackets surrounding them, as I mentioned. There is a main code, then a kind of supplement to it, if you will. For instance, if you wanted to change the size and color of your font, the main code is . Now, within this tag, you can change anything related to font. Like this- <font size=3 color=#000000></font>. Notice the = sign; you will almost always use it when you define the size, color, face, whatever. And you don’t want a space in between the = and the number or text.

Further down I will list all the major codes.

[I go through an exhaustive explanation of how to use links and how to close tags… very exhaustive]

Image Tags

Before I delve into the HTML involving images, there are a few things I need to alert beginners about images and image formats. THE FORMAT OF EACH IMAGE IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!! The format type is labeled after the name, i.e. imagename.jpg. You may have never noticed what formats you were saving your images, but you will have to now. Lesson one: NEVER EVER USE BITMAPS ONLINE!!! (for Windows users) When you open the image, if it comes up in the Windows paint program, then it’s a bitmap (.bmp). Bad bad bad!! This image type takes forever to load. Lesson number two: always try to save your pictures as either a jpeg (.jpg) or a gif (.gif)!! They are compressed so they load many times faster than the other formats. The difference: if you want the picture to have more realistic colors, use a jpeg format. If you don’t need all the colors, or you have a small animation, make it a gif. Gif is the only small image type that can run animations (besides Shockwave- but that’s an entirely different system).

[It goes on, including of course tables. All styled with HTML of course, was there even CSS?]

I’ll leave you with some source code:

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