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History Markup Languages

What is a Markup language?

A set of labels that are embedded within text to distinguish individual elements or groups of elements for display or identification purposes. The labels are typically known as “tags”.
A markup language combines text and extra information about the text. The best-known markup language in modern use is HTML (HyperText Markup Language), one of the foundations of the World Wide Web. The extra information, for example about the text’s structure or presentation, is expressed using markup, which is intermingled with the primary text. Originally markup was used in the publishing industry in the communication of printed work between authors, editors, and printers.

For content identification, markup languages turn a text document into the equivalent of a database record in which individual data elements can be located for processing. For rendering, markup languages indicate where font and other layout changes start and stop.

History of Markup languages

A markup language combines text and extra information about the text. The extra information, for example about the text’s structure or presentation, is expressed using markup, which is intermingled with the primary text. The best-known markup language in modern use is HTML (HyperText Markup Language), one of the foundations of the World Wide Web. Originally markup was used in the publishing industry in the communication of printed work between authors, editors, and printers.

GenCode the 1st markup language!,

SGML is first widely used markup language of the era, but the GenCode is first markup language. Many would surprise to know that, because many people use to belive that SGML is 1st markup language.


The idea of “markup languages” was apparently first presented in 1967, by William W. Tunnicliffe at a conference. Tunnicliffe would later lead the development of a standard called GenCode for the publishing industry. Book designer Stanley Fish also published theory along similar lines in the late 1960s. Brian Reid, in his 1980 thesis at Carnegie Mellon University, developed the theory and a working implementation of descriptive (or expressive) markup in actual use. However, IBM researcher Charles Goldfarb is more commonly seen today as the “father” of markup languages, because of his work on IBM GML, and then as chair of the International Organization for Standardization committee that developed SGML, the first widely used descriptive markup system.

Some early examples of markup languages available outside the publishing industry can be found in typesetting tools on Unix systems such as troff and nroff. In these systems, formatting commands were inserted into the document text so that typesetting software could format the text according to the editor’s specifications.


Another major publishing standard is TeX, created and continuously refined by Donald Knuth in the 1970s and 80s. TeX concentrated on detailed layout of text and font descriptions in order to typeset mathematical books in professional quality. This required Knuth to spend considerable time investigating the art of typesetting. However, TeX requires considerable skill from the user, so that it is mainly used in academia, where it is a de-facto standard in many scientific disciplines. A TeX macro package known as LaTeX provides a descriptive markup system on top of TeX, and is widely used.

Standard Generalized Markup Language

The first language to make a clear and clean distinction between structure and presentation was certainly Scribe, which was developed by Brian Reid and described in his doctoral thesis in 1980. Scribe influenced the development of Generalized Markup Language (GML)(later SGML) and is a direct ancestor to HTML and LaTeX.

SGML specified a syntax for including the markup in documents, as well as one for separately describing what tags were allowed, and where (the Document Type Definition (DTD) or schema)). This allowed authors to create and use any markup they wished, selecting tags that made the most sense to them and were named in their own natural languages. Thus, SGML is properly a meta-language, and many particular markup languages are derived from it. From the late 80s on, most substantial new markup languages have been based on SGML system, including for example TEI and DocBook. SGML was promulgated as an International Standard by International Organization for Standardization, ISO8879, in 1986.

SGML found wide acceptance and use in fields with very large-scale documentation requirements. However, it was generally found to be cumbersome and difficult to learn, a side effect of attempting to do too much and be too flexible.

Types of Markup

There are mainly three types of markup language: presentational markup, procedural markup, and descriptive markup.

Presentational Markup

Presentational markup is an attempt to deduce document structure from cues in the encoding. For example, in a text file, the title of a document might be preceded by several newlines and/or spaces, thus suggesting leading spacing and centering. Word-processing and desktop publishing products sometimes attempt to infer structure from such conventions, but, as the enormous variety of Wikiplain-text conventions prove, this is, as of yet, an unresolved problem.

Procedural markup

Procedural markup has been widely used in professional publishing applications, where professional typographers can be expected to learn the languages required.Procedural markup is typically also focused on the presentation of text, but is usually visible to the user editing the text file, and is expected to be interpreted by software in the order in which it appears. To format a title, a succession of formatting directives would be inserted into the file immediately before the title’s text, instructing software to switch into centered display mode, then enlarge and embolden the typeface. The title text would be followed by directives to reverse these effects; in more advanced systems macros or a stack model make this less tedious. In most cases, the procedural markup capabilities comprise a Turing-complete programming language. Examples of procedural-markup systems include nroff, troff, TeX and Lout.

Descriptive markup

Descriptive or semantic markup applies labels to fragments of text without necessarily mandating any particular display or other processing semantics. For example, the Atom syndication language provides markup to label the “updated” time-stamp, which is an assertion from the publisher as to when some item of information was last changed.

  1. Introduction to HTML
  2. Why HTML ?
  3. Basics of HTML
  4. Introduction
  5. HTML Tags
  6. Basic HTML Tags
  7. Character Format Tags
  8. Output Tags
  9. Block Tags
  10. Other Tags
  11. Tags Summary
  12. HTML Colors
  13. Introduction
  14. Different Color Review
  15. HTML Lists
  16. Introduction
  17. Unordered Lists
  18. Ordered List
  19. Definition List
  20. Example For HTML List
  21. Hyperlinks
  22. Introduction
  23. Hyperlinks
  24. Tags Used in the Hyperlinks
  25. Types of linking In HTML
  26. How to Hyperlink an Image
  27. Multimedia
  28. Introduction
  29. How to Hyperlink an Image
  30. How to make the image as Hyperlink
  31. How to create the page with image as background
  32. Working with the Video and Audio file Files
  33. Attributes
  34. How to add the audio files to your Webpage
  35. Frames
  36. Introduction
  37. Different Types of Frame In html
  38. Frame Tags
  39. Examples of Different Frames
  40. Tables
  41. Introduction
  42. Table Tags
  43. Attributes
  44. How to Create Table ?
  45. Example on the colspan and rowspan
  46. Frames and Input Elements
  47. Introduction
  48. Form Tags
  49. The Form’s Action Attribute and the Submit Button
  50. Input Tags And Its Attributes
  51. Text Fields
  52. Password Fields
  53. Radio Buttons
  54. CheckBox Buttons
  55. Text Area tags
  56. Label Tags
  57. Field Set Tags
  58. Select tag
  59. Option Group Tags
  60. The Option Tag
  61. Optional Attributes


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