HTML

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What is HTML?

HTML (short for “HyperText Markup Language”) is a system of special notations that specify what a webpage should look like and how it should work. HTML is how webpages—including their text, images, tables, links, forms, and so on—are transmitted over the Internet to your device. HTML is the standard coding (or “markup”) language used to build pages that render in a Web browser.

What does HTML look like?

HTML is based on “tags,” which are instructions enclosed in angle brackets (also known as less-than and greater-than signs).

For example, the HTML snippet This is <b>very</b> important. would show up in a web browser as “This is very important.” The <b> signals the start of bolded text and the </b> tag signals the end of the bolded text. The tags don’t appear when you view a page in a browser.

There are dozens of available HTML tags that can be combined in complex ways, and other languages (beyond HTML) that can determine the appearance of a page. The above is just one simplified example. 

What does a browser do with HTML?

When a browser requests a webpage from a server, the page comes back as HTML. The browser then looks at the HTML tags and figures out what to display on your device’s screen. It has to figure out what text to show, how the text should be formatted and laid out, which parts of it should be clickable links, and much more. This process is called “rendering.”

During rendering, the browser may need to make additional requests. HTML is just text; it doesn’t include images, videos, or sound. Those types of content can be included on webpages using specific HTML tags. For example, an image can be included using this HTML: <img src="https://example.com/image.png />. When a browser sees that tag in HTML, it will make a request to the URL in the tag, and the server will return the image. The browser can then put the image on screen in the right position.

What does HTML mean for privacy and security?

This separately-requested content often comes from a different server than the one hosting the actual webpage. This is a very common and useful practice. However, allowing webpages to include parts from different servers has the unintended side effect of creating a way for trackers to work. Your browsing activity can be tracked by means of these requests to other servers. Brave prevents this type of tracking, by blocking requests to servers that are known to be used for tracking.

Note: there can be other ways of tracking, too, including JavaScript fetches.

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