The HTML definition isn't a static set of tags and code. It's an ever-evolving protocol that constantly changes to meet user needs and advances in technology. How's the average person supposed to keep up with these changes?
What Are HTML Definitions?
HTML is a programming code that governs how Web sites function and display in Web browsers. Back in the mid-1990s, HTML consisted of a few basic commands (22, to be precise), and coders often wrote HTML in Notepad because advanced programming software was nonexistent or largely unnecessary. Today, 13 of those original 22 commands still exist in HTML, but HTML definitions have evolved far beyond the original code that people used to write by hand.
Setting HTML Standards
Over time, various standards for HTML have evolved to meet the needs of more sophisticated displays and more advanced functionality that programmers demand from Web sites. The World Wide Web Consortium formed in 1996 to codify and formalize HTML definitions. Five different versions of HTML have evolved since the original HTML command document, and much Web design actually entails XHTML, a subset of HTML that has its own governing documents.
W3C is the acronym for the World Wide Web Consortium, and this organization maintains a Web site with detailed technical documents and updates, as they're released, about HTML definitions and standards. http://www.w3.org is the first stop to finding information about the latest HTML standards and code.
International HTML Standards
The International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission both govern the official standards for HTML in countries around the world. However, these organizations work from W3C documents in issuing the international HTML standard.
In May of 2000, the ISO and IEC adopted HTML 4.01 to an international standard and published ISO/IEC 15445:2000 to codify these definitions. As XHTML has evolved alongside HTML, no further changes in the HTML standard have been adopted by the ISO or IEC.
For international standards, consult the ISO or IEC for the most recent versions and updates. However, current and prior versions are based on W3C documentation, so if you're familiar with W3C standards and HTML definitions, you're probably compliant with international HTML standards.
The Evolution of XHTML
While the 2000s didn't see a lot of change in HTML definitions and standards, XHTML rose in popularity as a Web programming code during this decade. XHTML as a programming language focuses on well-developed Web sites, with strict standards and clean, streamlined code. While the W3C envisioned everyone switching from HTML to XHMTL around the same time, the shift didn't happen as planned, and both programming languages are currently being developed simultaneously. The W3C is currently working on draft versions of both HTML 5 and XHTML 5.
A simple set of tags helps to answer the question, "How does HTML work?"
Ask most people, "What is HTML?" and they'll tell you it's a language for page design. In reality, this is far from the truth.