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HTML5 History

HTML5Learn basics of HTML5

HTML5 is the current and most advanced version of the HTML standard, known as Hyper Textual Markup Language, empowered with new attributes, behaviors, elements and set of technologies for more powerful websites and apps. If you are ready to learn HTML5 or want to improve your HTML5 development skills, watch livestreams and videos of HTML5 developers on Livecoding to see their coding process and workflow!


Introduction to HTML

HyperText Markup Language, usually called HTML for short, is the standard language for creating web pages. HTML, along with CSS and JavaScript, is one of the fundamental technologies used to create web pages, web applications, and other user interfaces. Web browsers read HTML files and display them visually or read the audibly. HTML describes the content and semantic structure of a website, which makes it a markup language, rather than a programming language. (It also can include cues for the appearance of a website, although this role has been taken over by CSS.)

The basic units that make up a web page are HTML elements. HTML elements can describe structural elements of a body of text such as paragraphs, lists, links, quotes, and more. HTML elements can also describe interactive forms, or embedded objects like images. These elements are represented in an HTML file by tags, demarcated by angle brackets. Some tags stand by themselves, such as img and input. Many tags, such as <p>...</p> surround text and other tags, and provide information about the content inside. Browsers do not directly display HTML tags. Instead, the browser uses them as clues for how to correctly display the rest of the page.

HTML can reference outside files as well. JavaScript can provide interactive behavior for web pages. CSS can alter the style and layout of a page. For the last few years, this has been the preferred way to control the look of web pages, according to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which maintains both the HTML and the CSS standards.

History of HTML

Tim Berners-Lee was working as a contractor at CERN in 1980 when he suggested and built a system for researchers to use and share documents, which was called ENQUIRE. He proposed in 1989 an internet-based system built around a concept he called hypertext. In late 1990 he wrote the first specification for HTML and created a web browser and server. That year he and a CERN data systems engineer named Robert Cailliau wrote a request for funding, but CERN did not formally adopt the project.

HTML was first publicly described in a document titled “HTML Tags”, published on the Internet by Berners-Lee in late 1991. This document listed eighteen different elements that made up the first HTML specification. All of them, except for the hyperlink tag, were based on SGMLguid, an in-house documentation format used at CERN, which was in turn based on the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). Eleven of the eighteen original elements are still part of the HTML 4 standard.

Berners-Lee described HTML as a form of SGML. The first official proposal for an HTML specification, published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in 1993, formally defined HTML as a type of SGML. The proposal described the grammar of HTML with an SGML Document Type Definition.

The IETF formed an HTML Working Group in early 1994. In 1995, the group completed the HTML 2.0 specification, which was the first HTML specification explicitly designed as a standard that future implementations should be based on. Conflict within the IETF halted further development, and the HTML standard was taken over by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1996. With input from commercial software vendors, the W3C published several new versions, including HTML 4.01 in late 1999. HTML also became the international standard ISO/IEC 15445:2000 in 2000. The competing group WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) started developing HTML5 in 2004. The W3C started collaborating with WHATWG on HTML5 in 2008, the final standard of which was completed in late 2014.

HTML Best Tools

While you can edit HTML manually with any text editor, there are many tools to help you. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Aptana Studio 3 is an editor for HTML5 that also comes with support for other programming languages so that you can do everything in one place. Its support for CSS3 and JavaScript makes it the only thing you need to build web applications.
  • HTML KickStart provides building blocks for you to start your project with.
  • HTML5 Reset will make sure that your project meets all the new web standards.
  • Liveweave solves the problem of testing small snippets of code. It gives you an environment to try all the new HTML5 features and learn as you go.
  • Modernizr is a library that tells your app about the capabilities of the browser that it is running in. It helps you get the most out of any browser.

HTML Books

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    HTML5: The Missing Manual

    by Matthew MacDonald

    HTML5 is more than a markup language—it’s a collection of several independent web standards. Fortunately, this expanded guide covers everything you need in one convenient place. With step-by-step tutorials and real-world examples, HTML5: The Missing Manual shows you how to build web apps that include video tools, dynamic graphics, geolocation, offline features, and responsive layouts for mobile devices.

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    Head First HTML5 Programming: Building Web Apps with JavaScript

    by Eric Freeman, Elisabeth Robson

    Head First HTML5 Programming is your ultimate tour guide to creating web applications with HTML5 and JavaScript, and we give you everything you need to know to build them, including: how to add interactivity to your pages, how to communicate with the world of Web services, and how to use the great new APIs being developed for HTML5.

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    A Software Engineer Learns HTML5, JavaScript and jQuery

    by Dane Cameron

    A Software Engineer Learns HTML5, JavaScript and jQuery guides you through the process I went through as an experienced software engineer, writing a large-scale, standards based web-application for the first time. It is intended to teach you the fundamentals of HTML5, JavaScript and jQuery - without presenting you with long lists of APIs, or intricate details of every feature (these can be found in reference manuals).

    This book is not a simple introduction to the subject matter: it guides you through the process of building a feature-rich web application. The application begins simple, and becomes gradually more complex as additional APIs and features are introduced. This book includes the following content:

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    HTML5 for Masterminds, 2nd Edition: How to take advantage of HTML5 to create amazing websites and revolutionary applications

    by J D Gauchat

    HTML5 for Masterminds leads the reader step by step to gain essential knowledge and to master complex subjects included in the HTML5 specifications. After reading this book, you will know how to structure your documents with HTML5, how to style them with CSS3 and how to work with the most powerful Javascript APIs.

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    Advanced Game Design with HTML5 and JavaScript

    by Rex van der Spuy

    How do you make a video game? Advanced Game Design with HTML5 and JavaScript is a down to earth education in how to make video games from scratch, using the powerful HTML5 and JavaScript technologies. This book is a point-by-point round up of all the essential techniques that every game designer needs to know.

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    Introduction to HTML5 Advanced APIs

    by Kevin M Ruse

    This book will quickly bring your HTML skills to the next level by introducing JavaScript implementation of the latest HTML Application Programming Interfaces. Upgrade your skills for both mobile and desktop Website and Web application development by learning how to access the user’s full-screen, battery power and more. New and easy-to-use APIs even let your website or application respond to user voice commands.

HTML Projects

The differences between that first version of HTML from 1990 and HTML5 are mind-boggling. HTML5 has so many new features that it can make your head spin. To show off some of these features, and to show you how to use them, we’ve picked some HTML5 example projects.

Todd Motto & Rolling Stone is a website created by HTML5 Hub and Rolling Stone that showcases the power of HTML5.

Explore this project!

The museum of Mario is an interactive history of the iconic video game character.

Explore this project!

HTML5 Boilerplate provides a perfect frontend template for new projects.

Explore this project!

Cloth Experiment simulates a piece of cloth interacting with different physical forces. This page is a stunning example of the interactive possibilities of HTML5.

Explore this project!

HexGL is a futuristic game built entirely in HTML5!

Explore this project!

HTML Community

W3C is the granddaddy of HTML communities online. They are responsible for every new feature that goes into HTML.

HTML Gurus

  • Ian Devlin

    Ian Devlin

    Ian Devlin is a web developer and writer. He is originally from Ireland, but now lives near Düsseldorf, Germany and works for trivago. You can read his bio and blog, and look at his projects, books, and articles, or you can contact him directly.

    Visit Blog
  • Remy

    Remy founded and now curates ffconf, a JavaScript conference in the UK. He used to run jQuery for Designers, and was a co-author of Introducing HTML5.

    He runs also runs Left Logic, a Brighton-based development and training company. He also built the following: Confwall,,,, nodemon,,, 5 minute fork and!

    Visit Blog
  • Josh Clark<

    Josh Clark

    Josh Clark is the founder of Global Moxie and the author of Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps. He is a designer, developer, and an expert in creating seamless user experiences across mobile devices.

    Visit Blog Twitter Profile Facebook Profile
  • Internationally acclaimed Lea Verou is a front-end developer and an expert in open web standards. She comes from Greece, and co-founded Fresset Ltd. in 2008. She has accounts on GitHub, Twitter, and Facebook.

    Github Twitter Facebook
    Bruce Tate
  • Jonathan Gillette

    Jeffrey Zeldman is a designer, writer, publisher, and a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts. He has had a personal website dedicated to web design since 1995. He is founder and chairman of Happy Cog, a design studio, and founder of A List Apart, a web design magazine. He is recognized for helping to bring the browser wars to an end. He co-authored Designing with Web Standards 3rd Edition with Ethan Marcotte. He also co-founded A Book Apart, a series of books about website creation.

  • Chris Coyier began testing software in 1998 and started doing print design in 2004. Now he is a web designer and developer. He made his debut in the field in 2007 by founding CSS-Tricks. He is an expert in WordPress. In 2009, he built Are My Sites Up? And wrote a book called Digging Into WordPress. He used to be part of the SurveyMonkey and Wufoo teams, before his 2012 launch of CodePen, which provides an interactive playground for developers to test their front-end code. He has a weekly ShopTalk Show and a Twitter account.

    Bruce Tate

HTML5 Conferences

It’s no surprise that a technology as well-established and ubiquitous as HTML has a wide range of conferences dedicated to it. You can go to these to meet and learn from some of the heavyweights in the web world.

Here are a few HTML5 conferences, though there are many others.

  • HTML5Devconf is the world’s largest meeting of developers, designers, and decision makers focused on Internet technologies. They discuss JavaScript, HTML5, CSS, node.js, and many others.

  • CSS Day is a two-day conference. One day is about CSS, and the other is about HTML.