Thursday, April 2, 2009


Myths About HTML and XHTML

The amount of hearsay, myths, and complete misunderstandings about HTML and XHTML is enormous. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that many people simply view the page source of sites or read quick tutorials to learn HTML. In the text that follows, I cover few of the more common myths about HTML and try to expose the truth behind them.

Myth; HTML is WYSIWYG design language
HTML isn’t a specific, screen- or printer- precise formatting language like PostScript. Many people struggle with HTML on a daily basis, trying to create perfect layouts by using HTML elements inappropriately or by using images to make up for HTML’s lack of screen and font handling features. Interestingly, even the concept of visual WYSIWYG editor propagates this myths of HTML as a page layout language. Other technologies, such as Cascade Style Sheets (CSS) are far better than HTML for handling presentation issues and their use returns HTML back to its structural roots.

Myth; HTML is a programming language
Many people think that making HTML pages is similar to programming. However, HTML is unlike programming in that it does not specify logic. It specifies the structure of a document. With the introduction of scripting languages such as JavaScript, however, the dynamic HTML (DHTML) is becoming more and more popular and is used to create highly interactive Web pages. Simply put, DHTML is the idea of a scripting language like JavaScript dynamically modifying HTML elements. DHTML blurs the lines between HTML as layout language and HTML as programming environment. However, the line should be distinct because HTML is not a programming language. Heavily intermixing JavaScript with HTML markup in the ad-hoc manner that many authors do is far worse than trying to use HTML as WYSIWYG markup language. Programming logic can be cleanly separated in HTML. Unfortunately, if this separation isn’t heeded, the page maintenance nightmare that results from tightly binding programming logic to content will dwarf the problems caused by misuse of HTML code for presentation purposes.

Myth; Traditional HTML is going away
HTML is the foundation of Web, with literally billions of pages in existence, not every document is going to be upgraded anytime soon. The “legacy” Web will continue for years, and traditional non-standardized HTML will always be lurking around underneath even the most advanced Web page years from now. Beating the standards drum upon high might speed things up a bit, but lets face the facts; there’s a long way to go before we are rid of messed up HTML markup.

Myth; XHTML will take the public Web by storm
Wishful thinking, but having taught HTML for years and having seen firsthand how both editors and others build Web pages, I can tell you that it is very unlikely that XHTML will be the norm anytime soon. Since the last millennium, it was predicted that the traditional HTML was dead. Yet today, documents are still primarily created both by editor and by hand sloppily, rarely conforming to even traditional HTML standards let alone XHTML.

myth; Hand-Coding of HTML Will Continue Indefinitely
Although some will continue to craft pages like mechanical typesetting, as the Web editors improve and produce standards markup perfectly, the need to hand-tweak HTML documents will diminish. I hope designers will realize that knowledge of the “invisible pixel” trick is not a bankable resume item and instead focus on development of their talents as they also pursue a firm understanding of HTML markup, CSS, and JavaScript.

Myth; HTML is All You Need to Know to Create Good Web Pages
Although HTML is the basis for Web pages, you need to know a lot more than HTML to build useful Web pages (unless the page is very simple). Document design, graphic design, and quite often programming are necessary to complete understanding of HTML technology can only aid document authors.

My other blog;
1. Across this bridge
2.Struggling parents
4. When life become a book
5. Read Between the Lines
6. The Sleeping Turtle Art Gallery

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