Introduction to HTML 5

Who What When Where Why How


The web is main platform for online content for desktop computers as well as for mobile browsers on handheld devices, despite the popularity of platform-specific phone apps. The web is the first place where free content should be published online. HTML is the language used to create web sites displayed by desktop browsers and to make content available to web browsers on mobile devices.

The current standards are the best option when coding HTML for mobile devices, especially compared to HTML 4 from the late 1990s. They are a must for development using progressive enhancement principles, which provide a rich Internet experience on all types of devices from small screen handhelds to pads and tablets in addition to desktop computers regardless of the user's browser of choice. (This was one area where designing for a specific browser, usually IE, then attempting to support other incompatible browsers and devices through graceful degredation failed - see Progressive Enhancement: Paving the Way for Future Web Design.) Visit using the web browser on your smart phone to see what mobile web design with HTML 5 looks like.

Latest HTML News

November 23, 2010 - The W3C releases an update of the modular specification of the HTML language. This Second Edition is the first Technical Report from the HTML Working Group advanced from a Working Draft to a recommended standard since 2001. See History of HTML Versions.

What is HTML 5?

Since the HTML 5 specification defines the HTML language for both content development and user agents, it includes:

  1. the rules for HTML authors, to encourage authors to create better HTML code and
  2. the rules for document parsers such as web browsers, since HTML browsers need to handle a lot of bad HTML code out in the wild worldwide web

But again, this site concentrates on the rules for web designers. For full details on the HTML 5 specifications, see the Draft Standard on the W3C web site or the WHATWG site.

This site covers the various technologies based on and related to HTML, not just the markup language itself. Its purpose is to provide a reference for current web development in HTML, including enhancements to HTML and other specifications related to the HTML development.

This site is not a normative reference, spelling out all of the various ways that developers can create HTML code in compliance with the specifications. Instead it takes a simpler, best practices approach to HTML code development. This makes it a good starting point to learn HTML and JavaScript coding as well as a good quick reference to come back to when necessary. If it becomes necessary to deviate from the code and examples here then please consult the original specifications.

The site does follow the practice what you preach principle by taking advantage of various new features in HTML 5. For example, each page is using the HTML 5 sectioning tags and the site logo in the upper left corner of each page is not an image - the logo is using an HTML 5 <canvas> tag with code loaded only once from a single full-site template. You can do View Source anywhere on the site to see the code for a working HTML demo page.

Where to start to learn HTML

The best places on this site to start to learn HTML coding are the HTML Tutorials and other articles such as:

<html><head> - An Introduction to HTML 5
This introduction to HTML coding is the first place to start for beginners learning to code web pages.
HTML Tags, Elements, Attributes and Properties
To create a web page, it is important to understand the difference between tag and element in HTML in addition to the definitions of HTML terms.
Style vs. Semantics
In all modern versions of HTML, the style of web design elements has been moved into HTML style sheets, while the focus of the HTML code is on the semantic content of the web pages.
Types of Lists in HTML 5
Tutorial on HTML ordered lists, unordered lists and definition lists.
HTML <table> Example & Table Tutorial - How To Create Tables in HTML
This tutorial shows how to use HTML Table Tags to layout data in a table on a web page.
How To Create HTML Forms
This tutorial shows how to create forms in HTML.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

If you are already familiar with previous versions of HTML, learn the differences in HTML 5 through these articles:

In addition, be sure to bookmark the main HTML reference pages, such as:

The HTML Cheat Sheet is a quick reference of both valid and deprecated HTML tags while the HTML Tag Reference provides more detailed information on all the HTML elements.

For some good examples of some of the new features of HTML 5, take a look at these HTML 5 demos:

How To Check for Valid HTML (HTML Validation)

WARNING: Be careful when looking for web sites for learning HTML, especially when it comes to things that are treated differently by different browsers. For instance, the examples on some very popular web sites show the value "false" as valid for boolean attributes, which is treated as false by browsers that look at the attribute value and as true by other browsers that only look for the presence or absence of the attribute, resulting in very inconsistent behavior, since that is incorrect coding per the HTML specification:

The values "true" and "false" are not allowed on boolean attributes.

To determine what version of HTML a web page is actually using, enter its URL in the W3C Markup Validation Service and look for the Doctype. If it's not HTML5, change it to HTML5 in the drop-down box and then Revalidate. The pages on this site are Valid HTML 5.

When can we start using HTML 5?

Most current browsers already support many of the new features of HTML 5, so now is a good time to start to convert web site code to be compatible with HTML 5. See HTML 5 Browser Support for more detail.

Who is developing the HTML 5 standard?

One of the most significant differences between legacy HTML and HTML 5, and one of the biggest advantages of HTML 5 is that the specifications are being developed by a group consisting of the major browser developers who are actively implementing the HTML specifications, including Mozilla, Apple and Opera, with support from Microsoft. The W3C plans to eventually release the HTML 5 specifications as an official recommendation, but that is merely a formality since browser vendors are already busy implementing features of HTML 5 for use by their customers.