A Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) browser is a program that is used to view files saved in the HTML format and display them as webpages. This type of software is available from a number of developers, and uses the source code created in HTML to generate the proper visual representation of a website. The code used to make a page can indicate just about anything on that site, from the style and color of the font used on it to videos and sounds embedded on the page. An HTML browser can view pages that are on or offline, allowing someone developing a website to preview it before hosting it on the Internet.
The purpose of an HTML browser is to convert the raw code of a website into something that is more visually interesting and readable. HTML is created through the use of scripting and code that is written in a document, often as plain text. This means that someone can read what is in an HTML file, but there is typically a great deal of excess data, that provides information about the layout of a page. An HTML browser is able to use this extra data and then display the pertinent information in the file based upon it.
For example, a plain text document might indicate that a certain piece of text should appear in a particular size and color. Someone looking at the source code can see the text itself as well as code, in the form of tags, that is used to specify the extra information. An HTML browser, however, uses this information to ensure the text is displayed in the appropriate color and size, without displaying the tag itself. Additional scripts can be used to add more information to a site, for display by an HTML browser, including the ability to set background images, embed video clips, and play audio files.
While an HTML browser is typically used to view webpages that are hosted on a machine connected to the Internet, it can also be used offline. This allows someone creating a website to preview it before it is online, through a browser; errors or other mistakes on the page can then be seen through the HTML browser, and the source code can be changed to correct these issues. Different versions of these programs include various functions and the ability to run certain scripts that other versions do not. Creating a website often involves a great deal of testing to ensure it is viewable on as wide a range of browsers as possible.