Last updated: 10 July 2016
A compilation of some of the most frequently
asked questions by beginning Web Page
Q. What is the WWW?
A. The World Wide Web -- consists of
a body of hypertext documents (Web pages containing
text, images and multi media, navigable using
hyperlinks) that can be accessed, navigated and
manipulated via the Internet using a variety of User
Agents (Graphical Browsers, Textual Browsers or
Screen Readers). "The Web" was created in 1989 by Tim
Berners-Lee and developed by Robert Cailliau.
Q. What is the Internet?
A. It is a worldwide facility that
employs a system of protocols to connect computers
together so that they can communicate with each other
using Servers that deliver specially formatted
Documents, the most common ones being hypertext
documents that employ HTML (HyperText Markup
Webopedia - The Difference Between the Internet and
the World Wide Web.
Q. What is the W3C?
A. World Wide Web Consortium -- an
international group of leading purveyors of hardware
and software, augmented by Research Institutions,
that fund a professional staff of recognized experts
responsible for, amongst other activities, the
creation and maintenance of Web standards and
Q. What does the acronym HTML stand
A. The Hyper Text Markup Language
that utilizes an array of pre-defined elements &
attributes (tags) to facilitate interchange of text
between documents residing on computers linked
together on the Web via Hyperlinks. The latest
iteration of W3C HTML is the HTML 4.01
Specification - the core HTML standard is
Q. What does the term "Markup" mean?
A. It is a frequently used term
indicating the HTML language and its constructs.
Q. Are there any good, free, online
A. Yes, an excellent starter is the
W3C Tutorial by Dave Raggett: Getting started
with HTML. Follow the header links to "Advanced
HTML" and "Adding a touch of style". Use popular
Search Engines to find other online Tutorials.
Q. What does the acronym SGML stand
A. Standard Generalized Markup
Language. The syntax scheme for markup languages - in
this instance for HTML. W3C Note:
Comparison of SGML and XML
Q. What is a hyperlink?
A. Clickable link to a document or
file that uses the HTTP protocol to access it via a
Q. What is HREF as used in
A. Hyper REFerence. It relates to
the document address in the URL and is anchored by
the A attribute. Example: <a
href="http://www.jp29.org/index.htm">. A closing
anchor can be used to add a textual description of
the hyperlink. Example: <a
href="http://www.jp29.org/index.htm">Link to the
Q. What do HTTP and URL stand for?
A. Hyper Text Transfer Protocol --
used in conjunction with a Uniform Resource Locator
to retrieve documents from Servers or to provide
hyperlinks to other documents. A URL consists of the
Server identifier (Domain name), folder identifier
and file name.
Q. What does FTP stand for?
A. File Transfer Protocol -- used to
transfer hypertext documents and files -- especially
to upload them to a Server.
Q. What is "tag soup"?
A. Web authoring community
description for implementations of non-standard HTML
-- proprietary -- elements/attributes usually
formulated by purveyors of automatic code generating
software. Just about all extant Graphical Browsers
(one type of User Agent) such as MSIE, Firefox,
Opera, Safari, et al. are so configured that they
will recognize (in quirks mode) "tag soup" and render
documents that contain non-standard HTML Markup in an
Q. What other types of User Agents
A. Text mode Browsers that only
display text, Screen Readers that read pages from
left to right -- top to bottom -- and render the text
as synthesized speech or transport it to a Braille
reader, Search Engines and hand held (PDA) processing
Q. What is "accessibility" and how
do you make web pages accessible?
A. I cover this subject in depth on
my page Web
Content Accessibility (WCA).
Q. Is there a way for me to see how
Screen Readers will view my pages?
A. You can get a good idea of what
users will see if they view your page using a screen
reader -- and pretty much how it will be interpreted
by a Braille reader -- by reading your page content
aloud left to right, top to bottom, you can get a
good approximation of how your page will be rendered
to blind or vision impaired people who use audio
Browsers. This is also pretty much how search engine
robots will read your page.
Q. What is interoperability?
A. Concept advanced by the W3C
asserting that hypertext documents (Web pages) that
are composed using valid HTML markup -- measured
against established standards -- will function
satisfactorily in all User Agents.
Q. Is there a good source for up to
date Browser Information and Usage?
A. Yes, Chuck
Upsdell's Browser News is the definitive
reference that is constantly updated (be sure to read
Q. What is Markup validation and how
does it work?
A. The document is parsed (scanned)
-- The document elements/attributes/constructs are
verified against an associated DTD (Document Type
Definition) consisting of standards compliant Markup.
Q. Why Validate Markup?
A. Validation enhances
Interoperability -- correct rendering in all user
agents. However, web pages can, and do, fail
validation and still display pretty much as expected
in graphical Browsers anyway due to their built-in
Markup discrepancy compensation -- thereby relying on
the often unreliable error correcting properties of
individual graphical Browsers. Validation does catch
many easily corrected Markup errors and the resultant
code is consequently easy to maintain or change.
Pages containing invalid Markup may not display or
function correctly in Screen Readers, BRAILLE
interpreters and Textual Browsers or when
incorporated into other applications. As we move
toward the Semantic Web, the rigors of XML will
result in a greater requirement for Valid Markup.
Valid and well formed Markup also bespeaks careful
craftsmanship and that appeals to many web authors.
Q. How is a DTD added to a document
for validation purposes?
A. It is embeded in a DOCTYPE
declaration header. Example: <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC
"-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN">
Q. What are style sheets (CSS)?
A. Compilation of style elements
(font style & color, text size, background color,
page layout parameters ..... and so on) to accompany
HTML/XHTML documents in order to separate content
from presentation. Style sheets can be embedded in
Web pages or externally linked. W3C Cascading Style
Q. Why should content be separated
A. HTML was not designed to effect
presentation -- document layout -- but rather it is a
language for rendering text and hyperlinks in a
logical manner. Presentation elements/attributes
(such as Table, Background color, Align, etc.) have
been added since its inception. A great feature of
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is the ease of page
layout management they afford.
Q. What are Strictly Conforming
A. Web pages that successfully
validate against a DTD
consisting of strictly defined
elements/attributes. Care should be exercised
when using Transitional DTDs as they contain
deprecated elements/attributes that will eventually
become obsolete (leading to tag soup).
Q. How do I validate Web page
A. There are two widely used (free)
HTML/XHTML Validators available: the W3C Markup Validation
Service and the WDG HTML
Validator. IMO both are equally good -- the WDG
validator has the advantage of multi-page validation
and presents the Markup source code very nicely. Both
Validators identify errors and link to corrective
Q. Is there a comprehensive online
listing of all Graphical Browsers and their versions?
A. The W3C compilation and
XHTML media type test - results is a pretty good
representation that coincidentally illustrates how
various Graphical Browsers render XHTML document
Q. Is there an online facility for
quick checking of Markup syntax for errors?
A. Yes, HTML Tidy is the
de-facto standard HTML syntax error checking and
clean-up program. It is not only a Markup syntax
error checker, it also checks for document
well-formedness; can convert HTML to XHTML; convert
Uppercase Markup to lowercase; effect code "Pretty
Printing" (indentation and spacing), etc. Although
Tidy is one of the most popular and
useful Web authoring utilities, it is
not a Validator -- it will not check
Markup against specific DTDs and offer corrective
action -- although running documents through Tidy
first is an important step toward successful
Validation. I run all my Web pages through
Tidy and use it for code "pretty
Q. How can I insure that visitors
will view my Web pages exactly as I designed them?
A. You can't. Web authors have
little control over how their Web pages will be
viewed and displayed in graphical Browsers these
days. Users can now selectively, via drop-down menus,
turn off image display; view only alternate text for
images; resize the entire page layout; disable
animation; enlarge or reduce text size; turn off or
modify coloration and even substitute the user's own
personal style sheet -- procedures that will alter
the page layout altogether. Those using Firefox 2.x
(and maybe 1.x) & MSIE 7.x Browsers can alter the
size of the text and images at will via the keyboard
(may be slight delay while images resize).
Q. How can I determine how my Web
pages are being served?
A. By using the View HTTP Request and
Response Header facility -- specify Browser (User
Q. What is XHTML?
A. It is the W3C reformulation of
HTML as an XML (eXtensible Markup Language)
application. Documents must be served as Media
(MIME) type application/xhtml+xml to function
that way. If they are served as
Media (MIME) type text/html and are
well formed as defined in the W3C XHTML
Recommendation they will be syntactically
compliant HTML documents without XML functionality.
Practically all extant XHTML pages are being served
this way. This situation will prevail until Microsoft
changes its stance on support for the Media
(MIME)type application/xhtml+xml per
IE Blog of September 15, 2005.
MIME Types and Content Negotiation (Note: this
was written in 2003 -- in the Summary, MS Internet
Explorer 7 should be added as non-supportive of MIME
Q. What is XML?
A. eXtensible Markup Language as
explained at O'Reilly
Q. What is an .htaccess file?
A. It is a special configuration
file that is loaded on the Server software (if
permitted). The Server checks it at the start of each
HTTP retrieval session for file associations. My own
Server associated both file extension types --
.htm & .html
with Media (MIME) type text/html. I
added the following line to the .htaccess file:
AddType application/xhtml+xml html
so that .html files (XHTML
documents) will be associated with Media (MIME) type
application/xhtml+xml and therefor
.htm files (HTML documents) will be
associated with Media (MIME) type
text/html. Here is the definitive
guide to .htaccess
Q. What are Web scripting
A. Simple programming languages that
are used in conjunction with HTML/XHTML documents to
perform a variety of document delivery, data
processing and display enhancing tasks. There are two
kinds of scripting: Client-side
that is interactive and takes place via Browsers on
user computers and
Server-side that runs on the Web author's Server
is the most popular Client-side
scripting language and PHP
(Hypertext Preprocessor) is the most popular
Server-side scripting language.
Q. What are the International
Standard Date & Time formats for the Web?
Standard 8601 Prescribes the International date
format as YYYY-MM-DD and the time
format as hh:mm:ss I employ these
International Standard notations on my Web pages
whenever applicable or appropriate.