Learn the Basics of HTML, CSS and XML

The Coding Languages Behind Every Website

HTML tags coding a webpage
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As you begin building web pages, you will want to learn the languages that behind them. HTML is the building block of web pages; CSS is the language used to make those web pages pretty; XML is the markup language for programming the web.

Understanding the basics of HTML and CSS will help you build better Web pages, even if you stick with WYSIWYG editors. Once you're ready, you can expand your knowledge to XML so you can handle the information that makes all web pages function.

Learning HTML: The Foundation of the Web

HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, is the basic building block of a web page. It handles everything from the text and images you place on web pages to style choices like adding bold or italic text.

Another critical element in any web page is the links you choose to add. Without them, visitors can't navigate from one page to another.

Even if you have very little experience with computers, you can learn HTML and start building your own web pages. One of the easiest ways to do this is with an HTML editor, of which there are many programs to choose from. Many do not require you to actually work with HTML codes, but it is good to have basic knowledge of it anyway.

CSS to Give the Page Style

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, allows web designers to control the look and feel of their web pages. It is the way that you can implement most design features. The best part is that it's universal to every page in the site you're designing.

When working with CSS, you'll create a separate file for your style sheet. This can be linked to all of your pages so, as you change design elements, the appearance of each page will change automatically. This is considerably easier than adjusting the font or background on every web page. Taking the time to learn CSS will make your design experience better in the long run.

The good news is that many HTML editors also double as CSS editors. Programs like Adobe Dreamweaver allow you to manipulate the attached style sheet while working on a web page, so there's no need to have a separate CSS editor.

XML to Advance Your Page's Function

XML, or eXtensible Markup Language, is a way to bring your HTML skills to a whole new level. By learning XML, you learn how markup languages work. Essentially, this is the hidden language that defines the structure of your web pages and it is also related to CSS

XML specifications are how XML is implemented in the real world. One XML specification you might recognize is XHTML. This is HTML re-written to be XML compliant.

There are also a lot of other specifications that you may have seen which are actually XML. These include ​RSS, SOAP, and XSLT. While you may not use any of these in your first web pages, it's a good idea to know that they exist and when you might need to use them.