-What's in a Mara page, anyway?
We've already seen that Mara pages are stored as files, and that these files are much the same as for static webpages. A static webpage consists of HTML markup, which is simply ordinary text in which the pointy brackets < and > have a special significance. (OK I'm maybe stating the obvious here, but bear with me..) An item between two such brackets is a tag, and tags are not displayed on the webpage. Instead, they determine how the rest of the content is arranged. The major sections of an HTML page are ordered like this:
<!doctype html> <html> <head> Instructions to the browser, not displayed. </head> <body> Actual content seen onscreen. </body> </html>
The <html> and </html> tags tell the browser that what comes between is in HTML format. The <!doctype> tag tells the browser the HTML version used, in this case 5.
The <head> section is mainly concerned with giving instructions to the browser and also to searchengines.
The <body> section is what you see onscreen.
As far as Mara is concerned a page need not have anything but the section between <body> and </body>. If a Mara page only has a body section, then the <body></body> tags are optional and can also be omitted. Thus, a page with only text, or a page with text and markup, are both valid Mara pages. -I like it when things are simple, and it don't get much simpler than that, after all. The only constraint is that you must play the game by the rules, and not have unpaired or out-of sequence tags.
If a pair of <head></head> tags is present, then Mara will use some of the information between those tags to better present the page. We'll look into what, later. On pages with no head section, Mara takes information from the Theme's head section. This is combined with information from the page body, such that what is sent to the browser is always a full page with both head and body sections.
If you've used other CMS you've maybe been required to fill-in screeds of form fields with information about your pages. In Mara there is none of that. Like I said, I like it when things are simple. Computers are for saving work, not for creating work. Especially not, unnecessary work.
Now, in practice some info about your page is needed by the system, particularly for the title which displays in the browser topbar, and the descriptions in searchengine listings. Mara uses an intelligent filter to judge which text in your page would be suitable for these purposes. In most cases it will be the first heading, and first ordinary paragraph. This arrangement works remarkably well in practice, and is a real labour-saver. In the few cases where the chosen text is not ideal, it's just a matter of adding a head section to your page, with title and description.
They also say it's good to be king, but I wouldn't know about that. What I do know is that it's good to be standard, because that means I don't have to sit up all night writing instructions on how to use some oddball markup or other. It's HTML. It's covered.
For an easy to follow guide on writing HTML, visit the excellent W3CSchools site.
For a more technical treatment though, and an in-depth reference, try the Mozilla Developers site.
To see the HTML content of a page, press the HTML Source button when in edit mode. You can in fact create pages without ever using this option, but as you become more familiar with Mara's capabilities you'll probably want to edit the source code directly to achieve effects that are difficult or impossible within the constraints of a GUI editor.