The advent of the web has created a need for many subsidiary tools and technologies which are necessary to establish communications over the Internet. The term ‘web technologies’ can be defined as the collective implementations of many technologies all put together and each one of them has evolved into better and feature rich products. This collaborative evolution is the reason behind the wonderful experience of the web we see today.
There are plenty of tools to be mentioned which contributes to the making of the feature rich web of today and it will take many more posts to specify all of them. One essential tool which will always be an integral part of the web is the markup language. ‘Markup language’ has been there since the early 1960s but the real usefulness and advantages of markup language has been realized only after the World Wide Web came into being. Before we understand what a markup language is, it’s very important to know the need of a markup language and how much an essential element it is to the web and its existence.
Web technologies are based on the fundamental ability to be able to communicate and send information to and fro over the internet. This communication is made possible with a common language in which data can be written and presented. Information has to be in a clear and neat format which will be have the same visual feel and alignment across any platforms from which it is accessed over the web. I would like to start by answering some of the fundamental questions as:
What is a Markup Language?
To give you a brief perspective of how data is provided over the internet I would like my readers to take this very blog as an example. Every single word of data which you read is presented in a neat and clean format in a well-aligned manner. Whether you read the blog post from your Mac, or a Windows PC and irrespective of your device, either a phone or a tablet the text and readability format seems to be exactly the same. This is possible only via a language which facilitates the use of certain predefined syntax and semantics for data to be written.
A Markup language is a language comprising of a set of rules enforced for creating and presenting data on the internet in a certain manner which can be interpreted by browsers. These principles or rules are created in a form called ‘tags‘ which is the base of a markup language. Hence the usage of markup languages has become an integral aspect of web technologies because it brings in a unified way for data to be represented on different devices.
Why is a Markup Language required?
Information or data is presented on the internet to the users so that they can instantly be able to read and understand without having to know the background processes involved in creating what they see or read. We all search the internet by using a software called browser. Essentially every browser has to interpret the internal lines of codes which then is processed and delivered to the user as information via web pages. Everything, whether on the internet or the computer system is generated with many lines of program codes.
Markup languages by use of specific tags enable the browsers to compile and interpret all the information written between the codes to be delivered to the reader. This is one of the reasons why a markup language is required. But the inherent reasons of using a markup language is to make it possible for anyone to generate data or content in a manner that can be presented in a unified visual across many platforms. Content, when written with the help of markup language tags will instruct the web browsers about the placing of text, images, web elements and its alignments to facilitate the proper display of the content to the user. Hence codes are written keeping in mind various aspects of the web browser or for that matter, any software used to present the information so that the data is readable in a well-aligned manner irrespective of the device used. This is very evident when we browse through umpteen number of websites on the internet today.
As goes without saying that every product or technology evolves thus making it better and so has the Markup language. It has evolved to a great extent over the years right from its creation and today it has become a very powerful and feature rich tool. It would be interesting to know about the various markup languages which have been there and about the newest of them all. Check out the Evolution of Markup language in the following posts to know how each of these was created to enhance the user experience which eventually has made it possible to unify content across so many cross devices today.