From the Editor’s Desk: A Browser is a Browser (‘cept when it ain’t)

About HTML

HTML (hyper-text markup language) is a special language for display of text and other media which has in-line commands that help a browser format stuff. Commands are enclosed in brackets (“<” and “>”), telling a browser to not print that text to the screen, but, instead, use it to execute the formatting. and apply it to texts. The formatting command is placed inside (“<strong>” is one, for making text bold) and the format applies until the command is closed (“</strong>”). The “<rant>” and <“/rant>” at left is a distortion of this, used in this case to tell folks of the tenor of the enclosed remarks. Web designers use these brackets in lots of fun ways in tweets, blogs, and bulletin boards online. You can too!

<BigFatLie>I’m cute!</BigFatLie>
<fattening>Fries with that?</fattening>
<SpoilerAlert>Butler did it.</SpoilerAlert>
<GeekSpeak> Hyper-Text Markup Language has been expanded with a specification called “Cascading Style Sheets” (CSS) </GeekSpeak>


When Tim Berners-Lee began work on what would become the World Wide Web back in 1990, Hyper-Text Markup Language (HTML – see at right) was developed as an “open” specification (available to all, not-for-profit). Sir Berners-Lee was a scientist then at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and all of the early workers on the spec were scientists and university people, just trying to simplify their ability to display, navigate, and share information. In 1994, Sir Berners-Lee and others established the “World Wide Web Consortium” (W3C) to centralize the development of the web, and insure that an open spec was adhered to so that documents (web pages) would always display the same way in the software used to display them (browsers).

W3CAnd, of course, that was then, this is now. The Internet has become a vastly more technically complex entity. W3C has done its best to keep the spec open, but the demands of media delivery, social networking, “software as a service” (think Office365), and commerce have placed enormous pressure on the spec to do increasingly newer and more complex things. To add insult to injury — unlike in Sir Tim’s day — most browsers are now developed by private companies who have a vested interest in delivering these new abilities in their own camp exclusively. All of this means that, if you’re a web developer, you have the insurmountable task of insuring that everything you deliver works with every computer, running every possible browser.

Tim Berrners-Lee
Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Many fail. Tim would NOT be happy! (OK, he’s still alive, so I’m guessing he isn’t right now!)


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