An HTML document is an unformatted ASCII text file. ASCII text is plain text with upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. An ASCII text file contains no special characters or formatting commands.
HTML code can be composed using any text editor that can output ASCII text. You can create HTML files using one of three types of editors:
- ASCII text editors
- HTML editors
- WYSIWYG HTML editors
The ASCII text editors require that you be familiar with HTML. They also do not validate, or check, the HTML statements to make sure they are correct. Using an ASCII text editor does, however, give you complete control of the code you write.
Some examples of text editors are Windows Notepad, Macintosh Simple Text, and vi in UNIX.
HTML editors such as Bare Bones Software's BBEdit, Allaire's HomeSite, and Hot Metal offer features beyond simple ASCII text editors. These include:
- HTML statement validation
- Automatic link checking
- Web site hierarchical structure displays
- Completion of HTML tags and attributes
- Switching capability between editor and browser (source code) formats
- Spell checking
- Search and replace capability
Examples of WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) HTML editors include Macromedia's Dreamweaver, Microsoft's FrontPage, Adobe's GoLive and Pagemill, Netobject's Fusion, and Netscape's Composer.
In general, it is not necessary to learn or know HTML code to use a WYSIWYG editor. In addition to the features found in HTML editors, WYSIWYG editors include:
- Precoded objects
- Predesigned color schemes
- Visually-based frame design
- Ability to invoke an FTP session from within the editor
- Sample Java code
In the next lesson, you will learn how to identify HTML page structure and the various types of HTML tags.