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Learning HTML5

Before you start you need to pull any upstream changes. Detailed instructions can be found in the Setup lab. You should get into the habit of doing this each time you sit down to work on your lab exercises as you will then be working on the latest versions of the files (with fewer bugs).

In this worksheet you will be learning about the markup language HTML which is currently in version 5. The worksheet is split into five parts with the resources for each part in their own subdirectory. The template.html file contains a basic HTML5 template you will find useful when creating your own web pages.

└── 03_html
    ├── 01_syntax
    ├── 02_lists
    ├── 03_hypermedia
    ├── 04_tables
    ├── 05_semantic
    ├── 06_markdown
    └── template.html

1 Syntax

Lets take a look at some basic HTML syntax. Start by locating the exercises/03_html/01_syntax/ directory. Navigate here using the terminal, install all the necessary koa packages with npm install and start the web server with node index.js. If you navigate to the base route /, you will see a screen full of text.

the unformatted text

As you can see, all the newlines have been replaced by spaces. The default behaviour of the web browser is to replace all newlines with spaces and replace multiple spaces with a single one!

Your job is to add html formatting to the text to make it readable. You should first of all add the basic HTML5 tags and then format the text using:

  • Heading tags (levels 1-3).
  • Paragraph tags.
  • Horizontal rules.
  • All date ordinals should use superscript.

As you work, save the html file and refresh the browser, you don't need to restart the index.js script. Use the html validator to check your work on a regular basis.

2 Lists

Now that you have mastered the basics of HTML, it's time to move on to how it can be used to render lists of different types. Start by locating the files in the exercises/02_html/02_lists/ directory. Now install the necessary packages, start the koa server and view the root URL /. This should display a simple page with the title 1980s' Home Computers.

Now, add a list on your web page. Insert the following lines of code after the paragraph describing clever uses for home computers:

<p>Some reasons often mentioned were:</p>

  <li>learning to write computer programs</li>
  <li>managing family finances</li>
  <li>keeping track of freezer contents</li>

View the list in the browser.

The ul element describes an unordered list. It contains three list items (denoted by li elements).

See what happens, when you change the list type to ordered list (ol).

Next, try a definition list. Add the following piece of code at the very end of the document, right before the </article> end tag:

<h3>There are two types of memory:</h3>

  <dd>Random access memory. The memory usable by programs. The amount was
  typically in the ballpark of 20 to 64 kilobytes. However, the Basic
  interpreter by default consumed a part of this.</dd>

  <dd>Read-only memory. This was normally smaller in size than RAM and
  roughly corresponded to the hardware implementation of the operating

The definitions list contains two elements for each item: a dt for the term and a dd for definition.

2.1 Test Your Knowledge

  1. Find out about the applications of computers in the 1980s and add two more reasons for people to buy them.
  2. Create an ordered list that contains the uses of modern computers in order of importance.
  3. Identify five components in a 1980s computer and create a definition list that defines each of these.

3 Hypermedia

Now that you have mastered the basics of HTML markup, we will look at one of the most important features, the ability to link resources together (known as hypermedia), this is one of the cornerstones of the World Wide Web (WWW).

3.1 Routes

Every resource on the WWW (such as html documents and images) has a unique URL and so when we design our website we need to define these. In a website built using NodeJS and Koa these are known as routes. Start by locating the exercises/03_html/03_hypermedia/ directory. Start the web server and open the index.js file.

  1. Some resources need to be directly accessible in the web browser (they are accessed either directly or loaded by the html web page). These need to have their own directly accessible URL.
    1. One directory needs to be specified as being publicly available. In this example we have created a directory called public/
    2. Koa needs to make this directory public. This is achieved on line 8 by importing a static module and using this to specify the public directory.
    3. Assuming the server is running you can directly view the image using the URL http://localhost:8080/paradox.jpeg, remembering to substitute your server's URL.
  2. Some resources are virtual and are generated by a script running on the server before being sent back to the browser client.
    1. There are some simple examples in index.js. Both the / and /paradoxes routes trigger scripts that take the contents of html files and send this back to the browser.
    2. When you access the /date route it, displays today's date. Look at the script that does this (you don't need to understand the code details).

3.1.1 Test Your Knowledge

  1. There is a file called coventry_cathedral.jpg in the public/ directory. Display this in the browser.
  2. Create a route called /cathedral which should return the contents of the cathedral.html file located in the views/ directory.
  3. Create a route called /time that displays the current time in hours and minutes. There is detailed documentation on the Date function on the Mozilla website.

3.2 Hyperlinks

Now you understand the concept of URLs representing resources and how this relates to routes, it is time to start linking resources together. With the server running access the /commodore URL which should display a web page describing the Commodore 64 home computer

Add a link to the appropriate Wikipedia article to this web page, in a suitable location directly inside the body element:

<p>Read the <a href="">Wikipedia article for Retrocomputing</a>.</p>

To test the functionality in your browser you will need to make sure the server is running and navigate to the correct URL.

A link, defined by the a element contains the URL of the linked web page as its href attribute. The link above contains an absolute path to a document on the external server. The absolute path begins with full protocol identifier and domain name.

Unlike block elements (such as h1 or p), links are inline elements: they always need a block element as a container and they are considered as a running part of the content of the parent block element.

A relative link is intended for links within the same domain. The parsing of the file path starts from the default directory, which is the directory where the containing HTML document is located, or as it is in this case, the directory specified with koa-static, which is public/. For instance:

  • "document.html" points to a document of that name in the default directory.
  • "info/document.html" points to a document in info subdirectory of the default directory.
  • "../document.html" points to a document in the parent directory of the default directory. (Note that, for security reasons, web servers prohibit the traversal of server's directory structure outside the dedicated document root folder.)

Test your understanding

  1. Create a relative link between the list item on the home page and the page on the Commodore 64.
  2. Add a link at the bottom of the Commodore 64 page called Back which returns the user to the home page.
  3. Create a file called spectrum.html in the views/ directory with the content shown below correctly marked up as HTML 5.
  4. Create a new /spectrum route in the index.js.
  5. Add new link to the list on the home page to send the user to this new page.
  6. Make sure there is a link on the Spectrum page to return the user to the home page!
  7. Validate your newly-created web page and correct any potential errors.
Sinclair ZX Spectrum
  - History
    - The ZX Spectrum is an 8-bit personal home computer released in the United Kingdom in 1982 by Sinclair Research.

  - Current status
    - There's still a wide community of Specrum enthusiasts. There are numerous emulators, such as Fuse (link to and Speccy (link to
  - Gaming device
    - Best games
      - The ZX Spectrum was famous for its games. Some of the best include
        - Jet Set Willy
          - contained 60 levels
        - The Hobbit
          - A text adventure game with some simple graphics
  - Back to Main page (link)

3.3 Images

In HTML5, images are put inside a figure element. The figure element normally contains one image, possibly with a caption, but technically it can serve as a container for multiple images. Because the images are loaded by the HTML web page (and not directly by the web server) they need to be in a publicly accessible directory. On our web server this has been defined as the public/ directory. You should create subdirectories within this to organise your files.

Locate the 03_hypermedia/public/ directory and create a new folder inside this called images/. Find an image of a 1980s computer and drag it into this new directory. You can use the image below if you wish.


Now, Add the following lines of code in an appropriate place, directly inside the body element, substituting the name of the image you uploaded:

  <img src="images/computer.png" alt="A computer with a monitor"/>
  <figcaption>Photo: Piotr Siedlecki, public domain via</figcaption>

Notice that the path to the image images/computer.png does not include the public/ directory.

There are a couple of notable things about the img element:

  1. It is a void element. A void element doesn't have any content, and can be closed immediately, like this <img >. For convenience, it can also be closed like this <img />. The extra / character, in the end, is not essential. However, <img > must NOT be closed like this <img></img>, which is a syntax error.

There are other void elements besides img. One of the most widely used is hr for creating a horizontal rule and written as <hr>. Void elements are not to be confused with self-closing tags. For void elements it's illegal to write <img></img> or <hr></hr>, but for self-closing tags such as <li> or <body> you can safely ignore closing tags </li> or </body>. Click here for a comprehensive list of void elements, here and here for discussions on StackOverFlow. To close or not to close tags, that is the question.

  1. For an image to be displayed, it requires additional information in the form of attribute/value pairs. The attribute/value pairs above, are given within the start tag in the form of attribute="value". Multiple definitions are separated by space. Two of attribute/value pairs are mandatory for images:
Attribute Purpose
src For locating the image file. The file path is normally given as relative path, starting from the default directory.
alt For displaying an alternative text if the image cannot be displayed, or if the user prefers using a screen reader for accessibility purposes.

3.3.1 Test Your Understanding

  1. Find photographs of the following computers and upload to the images/ directory you created:
    1. Sinclair ZX Spectrum
    2. Commodore 64
    3. BBC Model B
  2. Make sure you add a <figcaption> element that describes the image and where you found it.
  3. Make all the images 320px wide without stretching them. You will need to use another attribute, use the documentation to work out how.

3.4 Media

Now we will learn how to embed audio in a website. There are a number of resources located in the public/ directory that we will add to our index.html page.

  1. You can use the new html <audio> tag to embed audio in a web page without needing to use third-party plugins. You will need to encode your audio files in two different formats for this to work in all major browsers:
    1. Most browsers need files in the .mp3 format.
    2. Firefox requires files encoded using the .ogg format.
  2. In a similar way, video can also be embedded:
    1. Most browsers require a video file encoded as .mp4.
    2. Firefox needs an .ogg encoded version.
  3. You can also embed a YouTube video in an <iframe> or alternatively using the <object> element, however the latter is deprecated. This is achieved by clicking on the share button then on the embed link that is displayed. You copy the html code into your website.

3.4.1 Test Your Understanding

  1. Add the guitar audio file to the index.html web page. The file has been provided in the two required formats.
    1. Test that the audio plays in both Firefox and Chrome.
    2. Can you modify the <audio> element to make the sound auto-play?
  2. Add the coventry video clip to the index.html file, again the file has been provided in both formats (note that you will need to change one of the extensions from .mp5 to .mp4).
    1. Test the video using both Firefox and Chrome.
    2. Restrict the video window to 320px wide without stretching the image.
    3. There are additional attributes you can add to the <video> element. Try these out, what effect do they have?
  3. Find a (short) video clip on YouTube. This can be on any subject you wish.
    1. Embed this in your web page using the iFrame code provided by Google.
    2. Examine the attributes used and try changing their values, noting the effect this has on the embedded video.
    3. Now embed the same clip using the Object code.
    4. Examine the attributes used and try changing their values, noting the effect this has on the embedded video.

4 Tables

This task focuses on HTML tables. You will be working on the files in the exercises/03_html/04_tables/ directory. Start the web server.

Open the root path / which should display a table comparing a number of home computers from the 1980s. Examine the script index.js to locate the html file being loaded and open up this file in the editor.

Verify that you understand the elements used in marking up the table:

  • <table> to indicate the entire table.
  • <caption> for specifying the header of the table. By default, it appears above the table centered.
  • <thead> and <tbody> are semantic elements to show the header and body parts of the tables (there´s also <tfoot> for the footer). These are semantical elements, and, while not necessary, can help figuring out the structure of the table. In addition, <tfoot> could be used for a footer row.
  • <tr> for a table row. You can add as many of these elements into the table as necessary. Inside each <tr>, put a necessary number of <th>/<td> elements (see below)
  • <th> for a header cell. Inside the <tr> element corresponding to the header row (usually the topmost row), each column heading is given using this element.
  • <td> for a table data cell, i.e. regular table cell.

A summary of all HTML table tags can be found here.

4.1 Test your Understanding

  1. Modify the table structure to contain a column for Spectravideo home computer. Its data is: Spectravideo SV-328, Zilog Z80A CPU, 64kB RAM, 32kB ROM.
  2. Generate two additional rows where each row should have a multi-column cell (use colspan attribute):
    • Main usage: home computing (for all computers, a single cell should span over four columns)
    • Killer game: Jet Set Willy (for Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, in a merged cell covering two columns), Jelly Monsters (for VIC-20), and Armoured Assault (for Spectravideo).

5 Semantic Markup

In this final exercise we will look at how MicroData can be used to add semantic information to a web page. Start by using the terminal to run the server in the exercises/03_html/05_semantic/ directory and navigating to the base route /. This should display a simple review page.

  1. Paste the HTML code into Google's Structured Data Testing Tool to see what semantic data it contains. Notice:
    1. There is one main item on the webpage, which is a review, but it has many properties, some of which also consist of other items. These are defined using the itemscope attribute in the HTML file. Each item has an itemtype attribute that points to the appropriate Microdata definition.
    2. Within each itemscope, the information has been tagged using the itemprop attribute. The allowed values are defined by the itemtype definition available on the website.
    3. The schema definitions define what itemtypes are allowed and also what items can be nested inside which items.
  2. The Structured Data Testing Tool will not only extract the metadata but will also identify any errors in your implementation of the MicroData schema.
  3. Install the Structured Data Testing Tool Plugin for your Chrome Browser and use it to see the metadata.

5.1 Test Your Understanding

The /cafe route displays information about a local cafe. Using the CafeOrCoffeeShop schema as a starting point, add semantic markup. Feel free to add additional content to practice your skills.

6 Markdown

Hand-coding HTML can be a hassle, especially because you have to remember to add opening and closing tags. There have been several attempts to make life easier but one of the most popular is the use of Markdown Syntax. This is a simple way to describe a web page which is then converted into an HTML document on the fly when the page is displayed. It is how the worksheets were written (notice they all have the .md file extension).

Start by running the server (note that you need to install an additional package called marked).

  1. View the root path /. Notice that it displays a web page.
  2. Use the Elements tab in the Chrome Developer Tools to view the markup, notice that the page contains an <h1>, a <p> element, plus an ordered list and a table.
  3. Now open the file:
    1. Notice how a single # symbol is used to denote a top level <h1> element.
    2. The <p> paragraph is denoted by text with no additional markup.
    3. Numbers at the start of a line denote a list.
    4. Tables are defined using pipes | and dashes -.
  4. Explore the markdown syntax. Note it can only be used to define simple structures.

6.1 test Your Understanding

  1. Add 2 more 80s computers to the list.
    • What happens if you repeat a list number?
  2. Add these to the table and include the year of production.
    • What happens if the pipe symbols don't align?
  3. Add two second level headings, hardware and software, putting the list of computers and their specs in the first section.
  4. Find the names of 5 pieces of 80s software and create an unordered list.