Flashback to January 2016!

teaching machines

CS 318 Lab 2 – Core HTML

Dear students,

Today we meet the core elements of an HTML document. The folks we meet today will stick with us the whole semester. They will help us give a coarse structure to our information.

Before we meet them, I want to spend a moment helping us prepare for the oncoming complexity. Suppose you wrote this hierarchy of elements:


The web browser will be able to read this. But the poor humans that you work with will not. Let’s rewrite this so that every tag is on its own line. Every element nested inside another should be indented one level.

With a cleanly visible hierarchy, let’s talk about some relationships that might exist between nodes:

When we don’t keep our HTML clean, it’s very easy to lose the structure. My challenge for you today is to keep the structure apparent as you write your HTML!

Let’s consider another hierarchy:


And another:


Neither of these is well-formed. What’s wrong with them?

Here’s your TODO list for next time:



We have a few goals for today’s lab:

Like last time, please find a partner and work together on the steps below. Use only one machine and do a lot of talking to each other. Only one of you should be at the “helm,” running the keyboard and mouse. The other should be contributing with ideas, questions, and encouragement. Periodically, you will be asked to trade places.


Almost every lab will start off with steps like these:

  1. Open your cs318 directory in Brackets.
  2. Create a lab02 directory right next to lab01.
  3. Create a file named answers.html. You will add text to it in the following sections.
  4. Enable the live preview. Place your browser on one monitor and Brackets on the other.

Now let’s meet the major players of HTML5.


Every HTML document that we write should declare its doctype on its top line:

<!DOCTYPE html>

In answers.html, type in this line. Also type in answers to all the questions asked of you throughout the lab. For the time being, type anywhere; we will structure this document later.

Question 1: Based on a web search but in your own words, describe what purpose the doctype line has.

Question 2: What happens when you omit the doctype? What is the name of the mode that the browser enters? (It starts with a Q.)


Every HTML document represents a hierarcy or tree of content. Unlike our family tree, which had two sets of grandparents at its top, HTML documents have only one root element. This root is the html element.

Use opening and closing tags to surround the rest of your content—which I represent with an ellipsis:

<!DOCTYPE html>

The html element will always be the outer layer of the onion that is an HTML document.

Question 3: What happens when you place two HTML elements as siblings? By siblings I mean the two elements sit at the same level of the hierarchy. One opens right after the other closes.


Question 4. What is currently displayed in your browser’s tab when viewing answers.html?

Not all content in our information hierarchy is meant for a human client to see. Such information is meta—it is information about the core information in our document. One piece of meta information is the title of our document.

Meta information goes inside an element named head. Open it right after you open html:

<!DOCTYPE html>


Several meta elements are legal inside head. For now, we just nest within it an element for the title. Guess what its tag looks like. Title the page Answers. Does what the browser shows in the tab change?


head is to meta information as body is to content consumable by humans.

Surround your answers to the questions with a body element. Make sure body is a sibling of head.

Now, to be mischievous, add a second body element, but nest it within head. Randomly generate some content inside of it. You might find the Dummy Text Generator useful.

Question 5: How does the browser handle the second body element?


Think of a newspaper. What sets one article apart from another?

Talk it over before clicking.
Headlines, for one, set articles apart. But also layout and whitespace.

The same mechanism is used on the web. We can mark text as being a top-level headline with the h1 element.

Add an h1 element as the first child of the body tag. Give in the content Lab 2.


Large swaths of text should generally be placed in a paragraph or p element. Right after the h1 element, add a p element with some random text.

h2 through h6

We use h1 to demarcate the top-level header of our content. For subheaders, we can use h2, h3, h4, h5, and h6. Each of these corresponds to a different depth of our document’s content. Think of your document as if were structured in an outline:

1. Lab 2
  A. Partners
      i. Partner X
     ii. Partner Y
  B. Second section
      i. First subsection
     ii. Second subsection
    iii. Third subsection
     iv. Fourth subsection
  C. Answers

In a document showing only one article or section, there should only be one h1 element. If its content has sections, label them with h2 elements. If the h2 content has sections, label them with h3 elements. And so on. Bless your heart if you have to reach all the way to h6. I recommend you find a different employer. Just kidding, I’m at h5 in this lab writeup!

Add an h2 element for the Partners section. Do not include the A.. Header tags don’t actually enumerate the sections; the outline is only a notion we hold about the structure of the document. We will see other HTML elements for outlining information. Add h3 elements for Partner X and Partner Y. Provide paragraphs containing your first names and last initials as the content after each of these two h3s.

Add h2 and h3 elements for the second section. Include a paragraph of random text after each h2 and h3.

Question 6: What does the browser do to make the hierarchy of headers clearly visible to the viewer?

Finally, add an h2 element for Answers. The content after it should be your list of answers.


Sometimes our information is bundled together in a tight sequence. A recipe, for example, has an ordered list of steps. A manifesto may have a list of grievances (along with rambling language). A staff directory will have a list of employees.

You have an ordered list of answers. Let’s structure them using an ordered list or ol element. Surround the entire list with opening and closing ol tags.

Question 7: What does your list look like immediately after you embed it in an ol element?

In addition to the overarching ol, we need to embed each list item in an li tag. Add seven such elements around your seven answers. Clean up the spacing so that your structure is neatly organized. Your end result should look something like this:

  <li>Item 1</li>
  <li>Item 2</li>
  <li>Item 3</li>

Sometimes the order of information doesn’t matter. We can use an unordered list in those situations. The HTML representation of unordered lists is nearly identical to ordered lists, except we use the ul tag instead of ol.

Switch the content after Partners to use an unordered list instead of two h3s. Make each partner a list item. Order doesn’t matter here, because neither of you is better than the other. Right?

Question 8: Name two lists of information whose orders don’t matter. For example: the ingredients list of a recipe.

Reverse Engineer

Switch places with your partner.

Now your task is to apply the elements that you’ve just met by reverse engineering some renderings into their original HTML structures. In all your solutions, take care to keep your HTML cleanly formatted. Elements at the same depth should appear at the same indentation.


Your first task is to turn the text

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups sour cream
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease or line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the sugar, beaten egg and sour cream together. Mix in the flour, baking soda and salt. Blend thoroughly.
Divide dough in half and form each half into a long roll. (Note: If your kitchen is warm, keep the half of dough you're not working with in the refrigerator.)
Cut off a narrow slice of dough. Roll lightly with hands on lightly floured board into pencil-like strip about 7 inches long. Form into a figure "8", and pinch ends together. Place on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 12 to 15 minutes.


Write your HTML in a file named recipe.html. The recipe comes from allrecipes.


Your second task is to turn the text

My Home Directory


Write your HTML in a file named directory.html. Bear in mind that list elements can nest. That is, you can have an inner ol or ul inside the li of an outer list.


Your third task is to turn the text

Travel can be stressful, for a lot of reasons. But some stress can be preempted. Whenever you leave the house for more than a few days, you should do these things:
Turn off the water to all toilets. You never know what they'll do while you're gone.
Keep your toothbrush and toothpaste in your carry-on. If your suitcase gets lost, your mouth feels it first.
Get a dragon sitter. Your pet may seem aloof when you're around, but the minute you leave, it will start crying, loudly.
If you have any ideas you'd like to add to this list, share them in the comments section below!
Oh, and did I mention I'm for hire?


Write your HTML in a file named tips.html.


Now, open GitHub Desktop and have it show your cs318 project. You should see a list of four changes. Commit them and synchronize.

Verify that they have been published by visiting https://YOURUSERNAME.github.io/cs318/lab02 in your browser.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Past Posts