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Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a markup language designed for creating
web pages, that is, information presented on the World Wide Web. Defined as
a simple "application" of SGML, which is used by organizations with complex
publishing requirements, HTML is now an Internet standard maintained by the
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The last version is 4.01.
HTML generally appears in text files stored on computers connected to the
World Wide Web. These files contain information in plain text mixed with
markup, that is, instructions for the program on how to display (the web
browser is used to display) or process the text (generally, the HTML editor
is used for this). There are four kinds of markup elements in HTML:
* structural markup that describes the purpose of text (for example,
Golf will cause a reader to treat "Golf" as a first-level heading),
* presentational markup (now deprecated) that describes the visual
appearance of text regardless of its function (for example,
boldface will render boldface text),
* hypertext markup that links parts of the document to other documents
(for example, Informationheadquarters.com will
render the word Informationheadquarters.com as a hyperlink to the specified URL), and
* widget elements that create objects (for example, buttons and lists).
As with many Internet standards, the popularity and technological
advancement of the World Wide Web grew much faster than standards bodies
could track, so there are some incompatible proprietary versions of HTML
still in use, though standards are improving. But nowadays most features of
HTML4 are implemented by the major browsers. HTML4 gives a fairly
comprehensive set of formatting options, however most of these have been
deprecated in favor of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) or similar, which should
be used for formatting, while HTML should be used for describing the
structure and the logic of the page only.
Version history of the standard:
* HTML 2.0 (RFC 1866) approved as a proposed standard -- 22nd September
* HTML 3.2 -- 1996,
* HTML 4.0 -- 18th December 1997,
* HTML 4.01 (minor fixes) -- 24th December 1999,
* ISO/IEC 15445:2000 ("ISO HTML") -- 15th May 2000.
There is no HTML 1.0 specification because there were multiple informal HTML
standards at the time and so the formal specification was given the version
number 2.0 in order to distinguish it from these.
There will no longer be any new versions of HTML. However, HTML lives on in
XHTML, which is based on XML.