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The HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is an open platform language used to define Web pages. This language includes a set of tags that must be embedded in the text to make up a hypertext document. Thus, creating an HTML page involves primarily the process of tagging documents; HTML encoding can be done by inserting the code in a standard ASCII text file, inserting tags in a word processing program, or using special software programs that build the code for the user. Such programs allow the user to select, through menus and interactive commands, the desired effects; the program then builds the appropriate HTML code.

Although word processors and other text editors can be used to create Web pages from scratch, tools specifically designed to publish Web pages are available to make working with HTML easier. Examples of these publishing products include Interleaf’s Cyberleaf, SoftQuad’s HotMetal Pro, InContext Systems’ Spider, HTML Assistant Pro, HTMLed, and HotDog. All these products automate at least the tagging process by supporting intuitive what-you-see-is-what-you-get screens (WYSIWYG), menu, toolbar, and drag-and-drop interfaces. In addition, some products such as Cyberleaf are equipped with utility programs able to convert Microsoft Word or WordPerfect documents into HTML pages. The capabilities of these Web publishing tools can be classified loosely into four groups:

  HTML Editing These features are used to enforce HTML syntax rules and to manage the HTML tags for formatting text, designing forms, inserting Universal Resource Links (URLs), and calling up photos, video clips, or sound files.
  Fundamental Word Processing These features are used to create and edit the text.
  Previewing and Testing These features invoke any Web browser to preview or test HTML pages in WYSIWYG form.
  Document Conversion These features convert documents from plain ASCII text files or specific software-dependent files into HTML formats.

Whereas creating simple pages using these publishing tools requires no specific skills, rich and interactive online pages will require extensive knowledge and skills to integrate hyperlinks, multimedia, and embedded objects.





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