A hypertext markup language (HTML) database is a program that can collect and display information over the Internet. This database software interfaces with the Internet programming language to enable website visitors to search a collection of information or enter information into a Web form to be added to the database. The language, HTML, serves as the mechanism that allows the visitor to understand how the database can be used.
Databases are essential tools that enable people to store and manipulate information. In a database, information is entered into a file structure that allows the information to be called up or displayed when requested. There are many types of databases, but the two general types that are familiar to the average consumer are flat and relational.
Flat databases are the sorts of tables or spreadsheets that can contain information and manipulate it to a degree. These sorts of database mostly serve as a way to organize and present information. For example, a person may put information into a table so the information can be presented in a chart as part of a report. The table allows the data to be sorted, and, in some instances, summed up, but each entry in the table stands alone. If a person were to pluck a line of information from a flat database, it would not substantively affect any of the other data.
Relational databases store information in relations to other bits of information. The database gives each record a key, and everything that relates to that record is tied together by using that key. This enables the database user to call up related information and search the data based on queries, or questions. The most commonly used type of database on the Internet is relational.
Many of the things that Web surfers do involve an HTML database. When a person creates a login on a website, and then creates a profile or accesses his own account information, he is using a database. Search engines are simply databases that the public can access through an HTML interface.
The Internet uses a number of different types of HTML database engines on websites. The most popular of these is an SQL database. Whichever engine or program is used to create the HTML database, they must all use some version of Internet programming language to enable the database interface to display over the Web. The most basic Internet programming language is HTML.
HTML can also be used to create flat tables just by using the coding language to display information in a chart. When people think of an HTML database, however, they will most likely think of the way information that is entered into a Web form becomes part of an account that they can access by logging in. In this way, the term has a bit of ubiquity that transcends the type of database software that might actually power the website.