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1. HTML, XHTML, and the World Wide Web > HTML and XHTML: What They Are

HTML and XHTML: What They Are

HTML and XHTML are document-layout and hyperlink-specification languages. They define the syntax and placement of special, embedded directions that aren’t displayed by the browser but tell it how to display the contents of the document, including text, images, and other support media. The languages also tell you how to make a document interactive through special hypertext links, which connect your document with other documents — on either your computer or someone else’s — as well as with other Internet resources.

You’ve certainly heard of HTML, and perhaps XHTML too, but did you know that they are just two of many other markup languages? Indeed, HTML is the black sheep in the family of document markup languages. HTML was based on SGML, the Standard Generalized Markup Language. The powers-that-be created SGML with the intent that it be the one and only markup metalanguage from which all other document markup elements would be created. Everything from hieroglyphics to HTML can be defined using SGML, negating any need for any other markup language.


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