Comm Lab Web Week 1


HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. While not a traditional programming language, it is the language that is used to create web pages. Typically a markup language is used to define the structure and display of content, HTML is no different.

Text Editor

To write HTML, one of the first things you will need is a plain text editor. Most operating systems come with this capability built-in (TextEdit on the Mac and Notepad on Windows). While these applications work fine, there are some benefits to using a programmer's text editor such as TextWrangler on the Mac or TextPad on Windows.

In particular, they have line numbering, syntax coloring and other features that will make it easier to work with.


HTML is a tag based language. This means that you define the structure of the content of a document using tags.

An example of a tag would be: <b>some text</b> which when rendered in a browser looks like this: some text.

Here are some tags that we'll start with:

  • <html>...</html> Start and end HTML
  • <head>...</head> Head of page, not actual content
  • <title>...</title> Title of page
  • <body>...</body> Body of page, where the content goes
  • <div>...</div> Content section
  • <p>...</p> Paragraph
  • <b>...</b> Bold
  • <br /> Line break (you'll notice that this tag doesn't have any content and therefore is both an begin and end tag, with the slash)
  • <H1></H1> (Also H2, H3, H4, etc..)
  • <!-- ... --> Comments
  • <blink>...</blink> Make your text blink
  • <a href="http://...">...</a> Link to another page. The "href=""" portion is an attribute. Many tags have optional attributes.
  • Here is the source of an HTML example page:

    <html> <!-- Start the HTML -->
    	<head> <!-- Start the Head -->
    		<title>This is a Web Page</title> <!-- The Title of the page, start and end tag with text in-between -->
    	</head> <!-- End the Head, always with a "/" -->
    	<body> <!-- Start the body -->
    		This is where you would put the content of the page. <!-- This is a comment and won't display -->
    		This will be on the same line as the above.  To specify a line break, you use: <br /> <br />
    		<!-- The above text displays both a <br /> and has this funny code: <br />   That funny code allows us to display the special characters that are typically used to define a tag so that we can display them without the browser actually thinking they are the start and end of a tag.  This symbol:  < is written as < meaning "less than".  This symbol: > is written as > -->
    		This text will be a line down
    		<br /><br /> <!-- Two line breaks --> <!-- Line break tags include the closing "/" as part of them, there isn't a </br> tag. -->
    		<blink>This Text Probably Doesn't Blink</blink>
    	</body> <!-- End the body -->
    </html> <!-- End the HTML -->
    See the page rendered in a browser

    To try this out, copy the above into a new text file and save it as something.html then open it in a web browser to see it.


    Comments in HTML start with <!-- and end with -->


    As you see in the above example, HTML tags are nested within each-other. For instance all of the content you want inside the body of the page is nested within the body start and end tags.


    Indenting isn't strictly required but it really helps YOU to see the nesting structure of the document. What is inside what and gives you the ability to quickly recognize when you missed closing a tag.


    Tags, such as the <a> shown above can have "attributes". In the case of the <a> it is "href" which indicates the URL that the link should be to. Other common attributes are "id" and "class". "id" allows a specific tag/element on the page to be referenced through JavaScript or CSS (which we'll cover later). "class" is useful when using CSS to define the design of the page.

    View Source

    View Source one of the very fundamental things that made web publishing very successful in the beginning was the inclusion of "View Source" in most web browsers. This allows people to look at the HTML of a page they are viewing so as to understand how it was constructed and learn how to do similar things themselves.

    Uploading to a Server

    While you can view this page from your computer by simply opening it in a web browser, in order for other's to see it you need to place it on a "Web Server".

    To do this, you need an FTP or SFTP ((secure) file transfer protocol) client application (Fetch, Fugu, WS-FTP). NYU's ITS group has serveral pieces of software available for download for free including various text editors and SFTP clients:

    When you connect to your server, you will likely be placed in your "home" directory. You will need to navigate to the location for your web files. This is likely to be a directory with the name of your domain. The file should then be available via a URL such as follows: . This is the URL you will use to link to it as well.


    To place an image in a page, you use a URL in the "src" attribute of the img tag:
    <img src="URLTOIMAGE" />
    <img src="animage.jpg" />
    <img src="" />


    You can use some basic CSS (cascading style sheets) in the "style" attribute of tags.
    <div style="background: #00ff00; text-color: #ff0000;">This will be funky</div>
    This will be funky

    We'll get deeper into CSS later in the semester.

    More Information:

    HTML Tag Reference
    HTML Special Characters HTML Tutorial
    More more more