HTML Wizardry

HTMLIn university, I used to work for my local MPP both in his riding (my home riding) and in his Queen’s Park office. I did mostly correspondence, filing, etc., not the most exciting but with nice coworkers.

Then one day in 1997 or so the office decided it might be a good idea to develop “one of those web sites” that were becoming a nice-to-have among other businesses and government agencies. As the bored-est person in the office, I jumped at the chance to be paid to experiment with this new language and create something fun rather than responding to yet another letter to constituents (whose needs are also very important).

I bought myself a copy of “HTML for Dummies” and never looked back.

So, by now they’re probably teaching HTML in high schools. I hope they are anyway, it has probably been around longer than all the programs I learned in high school computers (Lotus notes, anyone? Q-spread?). While most web designers have moved on to use more sophisticated design tools from Dreamweaver to WordPress, I still find being able to “read” HTML is useful.

When you know HTML, you can click on the design tab in this WordPress site and see for yourself what might be going wonky in the code. As a writer, I’ve always found it helpful to know HTML because I’m able to take on jobs that require adding markup to text (less requested nowadays). Here are some of the basics:

HTML tags are formed using triangle brackets like <command>. If a command is supposed to end, a slash is used </end command>. Sometimes the slash is not necessary these days.

Most HTML tags have an opening and an ending tag to bookend a command. This is an old one but most new paragraphs used to have an opening and closing tag <P>paragraph</P>.

HTML pages typically have a nested structure that begins with the larger global information and goes to the smaller information by paragraphs

<HTML>

<HEAD>

<TITLE>

<META>

</HEAD>

<BODY>

<P><B >CONTENT</B></P>

</BODY>

See how the head information ends in a section that’s nested in the body section? Or how my text CONTENT is surrounded by paragraph and BOLD tags that open and end.

Anyway, glad not to be hand-coding in HTML anymore as it is so fiddly sometimes, but interesting to know the language.

I recently had my writing class code a short page in HTML just so they would be aware of the language. I told them they would feel like wizards about it, when their tags brought hyperlinks to life in their browsers. And even though most just laughed at my pronouncement, I could tell from their hidden smiles that they did!