HTML5 – HTML5 History: The Past and Future of HTML Markup

Let’s get started by taking a look at the history of markup languages, of which HTML—now in its fifth revision, called HTML5—is the most popular and widely utilized. This year (2016) portends the release of another version of HTML5 called HTML 5.1
, which supports using HTML5 not only for all of the popular browsers, but also for the new HTML5 operating systems that have recently appeared as competitors to Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile. The browser manufacturers—specifically Opera, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome—realized that they could enhance their browser code, add icons, and run HTML5 on top of the Linux kernel and compete with the other consumer electronics operating systems. Now Firefox OS is on Panasonic iTV Sets and Alcatel-Lucent smartphones, and the Opera HTML5 OS is on Sony Bravia iTV Sets. HTML 5.1 adds features more in line with HTML5 OS requirements.

This book provides a reference to all of those HTML5 tags and their parameters, attributes, characteristics, and configuration options, of which there are currently 120 or more. I organize these as logically as possible, starting at the top of the HTML5 document with the metatags for search engine optimization (SEO)

, styling (CSS), or interactivity (JavaScript), and logically stratify chapters covering tags used for writing (text), forms, lists, multimedia, and similar document features and attributes.

Besides the history and future of HTML, this chapter overviews the markup (coding) format or syntax for tag and parameter usage, so that understand the rest of the book as we cover the 120 HTML5 tags used to implement document features, along with the parameters they support.

Finally, I outline the rest of the book to show you how I organize and reference the 120 HTML tags in the HTML5 specification into logical topical areas, which build on each other in an orderly fashion.

The History of HTML
: Reveal Codes Tags

The first time I ever encountered tags, which are used for formatting text values, was using a word processing software package called WordPerfect for the Data General MV-7800XP mini-computer. This software had a handy feature called Reveal Codes that was accessed using F3, the third function key along the top of the keyboard. Using this feature showed Control Codes surrounding formatted text values, so the bolded word Important looked like <b>Important<b> when you pressed the F3 Reveal Codes key. Pretty cool feature!

A system called ENQUIRE is another HTML predecessor. In 1980, the physicist Tim Berners-Lee, prototyped ENQUIRE, a system for CERN researchers to utilize and share text-based documents. In 1989, Berners-Lee proposed an Internet-based hypertext system. He specified HTML and wrote the browser and server software in late 1990. Berners-Lee and CERN data systems engineer Robert Cailliau collaborated, however, the project was never adopted by CERN.

The first publicly available HTML description was a document called “HTML Tags,” first mentioned on the Internet by Berners-Lee in late 1991. The document described 18 elements. Except for the hyperlink tag, they were all influenced by SGMLguid, an in-house Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML)
documentation format developed at CERN. Eleven of the original tag formatting elements remain active in HTML5 today. They are covered in this book.

Berners-Lee also considered HTML’s markup tags to be an application of SGML. HTML was formally defined as being such by an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
, in the mid-1993 publication of the first proposal for an HTML specification called “Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)”. It was released as an Internet specification by Tim Berners-Lee and Dan Connolly. There was also “SGML Document Type Definitions,” which define HTML syntax and grammar. Similarly, Dave Raggett’s competing Internet draft, “HTML+ (Hypertext Markup Format)” released later in 1993, suggested standardizing already-implemented features, such as tables and fill-able forms.

After these early HTML and HTML+ drafts expired in early 1994, the IETF created the HTML Working Group, which completed the HTML 2.0 draft in 1995. This was the first HTML specification, intended as the defacto standard against which all future HTML implementations should be compared. Further development of HTML under these auspices of the IETF was stalled, by competing interests.

Since 1996, the HTML specifications have been maintained, with input from commercial software vendors, by the World Wide Web Consortium, also known as the W3C. In 2000, HTML4 became an international standard, ISO/IEC 15445:2000. HTML5 was released in Q4 of 2014 and HTML 5.1 is scheduled for release at the end of 2016, which is why it is covered in this book.

What Is HTML5? A Definition and Syntax

HTML is the markup language that web browsers, and more recently, operating systems, use to interpret and compose text, images, and other material into visual or audible content pages for widespread human consumption, as well as by cats who watch HTML5 iTV Sets.

Default characteristics for each item represented using HTML5 markup tags and their parameters are defined in the browser. These characteristics can be altered or enhanced by the web page designer’s use of CSS or JavaScript, although these are not covered in this reference book.

HTML markup—as well as other markup languages, such as SGML and XML—uses tags to surround document components that you wish to enhance. For instance, to make text bold, you use the HTML <b> tag in the following fashion:

<p><b>This text will be bold.</b> And this text will not be bold.</p>

The ending tag has a backslash before the letter or letters that define the tag; it tells the engine (code) that is parsing the document to turn off that feature. A <p> paragraph tag tells the HTML5 rendering engine that you’re going to insert a paragraph (<p>) of text; a bold (<b>) tag tells it when you want to turn bolding on and off.

Tags need to be nested in the proper order, so the bold tag should be contained (nested) inside of your paragraph tag, as seen in the preceding HTML5 markup example.

The first tag, which turns the feature on, can also have optional parameters, or features for configuring how you want that tag to behave. Here’s an example of the use of parameters:

<a title="Anchor Tag" href="">APRESS WEBSITE LINK</a>

This anchor (<a>) tag provides a way to link to the Apress website from within a different website. The title parameter shows users a title when they mouseover the link. The http parameter provides the website address, or URL.

More Syntax for HTML5: Using Comments

Since this entire book is essentially an HTML5 markup reference that uses the basic syntax (markup encoding structure) covered in the previous section, I’ll address how comments are handled in HTML5 now; that way, we can get all of the syntax issues out of the way along with the history and future of HTML5 content development.

HTML5 comment tags are similar to comment tags for other programming languages such as Java 9 and JavaScript. They start with the left pointing chevron (<) and then the exclamation point (!) character, followed by two hyphens (dashes, or minus signs) and then you insert your comment text, and end with another two dashes, and finally a right-facing chevron (>) character. Here is an example of a comment in HTML5:

<!-- This is an example of how a comment is constructed in HTML5 -->

Next, let’s take a look at where HTML5 is going, so that you know just how valuable this quick markup reference book is going to be to your new media content deliverable work process.

The Future of HTML: HTML5 OS

and HTML 5.1

HTML was only for use in browsers until Google acquired Android and started to dominate the consumer electronics device marketplace, which it continues to do today, with over 100 manufacturers using Android for iTV Sets, smartphones, tablets, e-book readers, set-top boxes, and even personal computers. Not wanting to be left out of this lucrative market, HTML5 browser manufacturers morphed their browsers into HTML5 OS products by adding features such as icons, and connecting their code and technology to the latest Linux OS kernel, which powers the popular Android OS and many other popular operating systems.

HTML is now used not only for production of content for popular browser software, but also with consumer electronics devices, which means that tags have to be added, since there is a more advanced usage (operating systems) for HTML5 and future versions of HTML, such as HTML 5.1.

An impending solution for adding the OS-related features is HTML 5.1, which continues to add advanced features with new media content development support. OS user interfaces support the new <dialog> tag. HTML5.1 also supports menuing with dialogs by using the new <menu> and <menuitem> tags, which we’ll cover in a special chapter on HTML 5.1.

Next, let’s take a look at how we’re going to cover these tags.

HTML5 Quick Reference: Tag Categories

This book goes over HTML5 tags from the highest level of the document in a “top down” fashion. We start with the tags that define the areas of your HTML5 document and the tags found at the top of your document, which define SEO (meta tags) and external documents (such as CSS and JS documents and favicons), which are linked to an HTML5 document from external file resources. The first four chapters cover the tags that define your HTML5 document’s infrastructure.

Chapters 2 through 9 cover the basics, such as hypertext (linking to other URLs), new media assets such as imagery, audio, and video, and the document content hierarchy and heading levels.

Chapters 10 through 15 cover text-based elements such as paragraphs, lists, forms, and tables, which contain most of the text-based content found in HTML5 documents and apps today. These chapters are a bit longer because there are quite a few tags related to these areas in HTML.

Chapters 16 through 20 cover more advanced topics, such as document positioning, divisions, document styles, CSS3, document interactivity, JavaScript, document rendering using the canvas, and document objects.

Chapters 21 through 23 cover infrequently used tags, and HTML 5.1. I also include several appendices, which cover how to set up an HTML5 IDE, as well as how to obtain advanced open source new media content development packages, so that you can develop your entire HTML5 projects using a single content development workstation.


This chapter looked at HTML’s history, future, definition, syntax, commenting, and summarized how this book plans to categorize and reference the 120 tags that currently comprise the HTML5 and HTML 5.1 feature set.

In the next chapter, you learn about the top-level document tags, such as <html>, <head>, and <body>, and how they define the overall structure of the HTML5 content document.

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