How HTML Can Take You Further
Much of the effectiveness of WordPress comes down to how much it lets you do without any kind of coding. Millions of wonderful blogs have been launched and are living full and productive lives because WordPress, and other tools, hide any kind of machine talk from the user.
However, at some point you might want to put down the handsaw and sandpaper and pick up some power tools. WordPress is carefully designed to let you go as far as you can without power tools, then gracefully add just as much or as little coding as you need to get the results you're looking for.
The first and simplest power tool that you can use with WordPress is HTML. HTML is an acronym for Hypertext Markup Language, which is the underlying language of web pages. It controls what appears on a web page and affects how things are laid out. HTML was all people had for writing and maintaining web pages for the first several years after the Web was invented in 1989.
HTML also provides a front end for the protocol that determines how web links and domain names work, called HTTP, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol. HTML code that sets up hyperlinks—the links you click to move from one web page to another—serves as a front end for HTTP.
You can use HTML in WordPress.com—in fact, it's always just a click away. The HTML code underlying your blog entries is available on the HTML tab whenever you are writing or editing a blog entry.
There are some fairly routine tasks in WordPress that you can only do using HTML. For instance, if you want to add a YouTube video to your blog, YouTube provides you with HTML code. You have to find the right spot in the HTML for your blog entry and paste in the HTML code that YouTube provides.
One of the most useful widgets, and the most customizable one, is the Text widget. The Text widget allows you to use HTML for formatting text, creating links, and so on.
In this chapter, we introduce the use of HTML as it can be used in the WordPress.com environment. This is useful whether you just want to do a few simple things with your blog postings and the Text widget, or if you want to go much further. To go further, you'll need additional tools, which are described throughout this book.