that remarkable language, HTML

HTML is a remarkable language. With only a few lines of text, one can create beautiful graphic designs. With a few images, properly applied, even more can be achieved (and less). One does not require a network to learn HTML - merely a computer that can interpret it.

The immediacy of HTML is a unique feature. With nothing more than a web browser and a basic text editr I can learn and practice what I've learned.

There are many other technologies which are almost as accessible - scripting environments in particular (Python, Ruby, Perl). The issue is that the output is not pretty. The behavior of these languages is more traditionally "comp sci" and the effect of learning is not as immediate.

Make no mistake - HTML is a computer language. It tells the browser how to lay out a page. Whether I say:

Document.addParagraph("Hello World!")

or type:

Hello World

the effect is the same. Indeed, with the advent of CSS (in particular CSS selectors), the data structure of HTML is laid even more bare.

(CSS is 10 years old in December.)

A text editor and a browser is certainly enough to get going with HTML. Two other items are quite handy. A *really good* text editor (in particular and editor with syntax highlighting) can save time and trouble by showing your mistakes before testing in the browser (missing bracket, misspelled keyword, etc). Another item is a browser tool that gives insight into what the browser is doing, and what graphical objects it has created in response to your pithy text. Both of these items are freely available in the form of various editors (jEdit being perhaps the most accessible) and Firefox plugins.

I encourage everyone to learn HTML! It is quite a clever language, and its accessibility is unique so take advantage!

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