HTML and CSS Reference
In-Depth Information
Before HTML5
Remember Web 2.0? The term that rose to prominence in the mid-2000s became syn-
onymous with a transition from a read-only mentality toward the Web to one that al-
lowed active participation in its content: the read/write Web. As the term popped up
at more and more conferences and elsewhere, eventually becoming a common catch-
phrase in mainstream media, its exact meaning became less than defined. Companies
such as YouTube seemed to have it, yet undoubtedly web developers the world over
were presented with the headache of explaining to confused clients that the old and anti-
quated HTML of their websites could not be supplanted with Web 2.0. The term became
largely symbolic of what was possible, what was hip, and what was new. In practice,
it encompassed old technologies that were repackaged in new ways, such as the asyn-
chronous loading of content with JavaScript and XML (which became known as Ajax).
In actuality, the ability to interact with a website in a read/write context had been around
for years.
Perhaps more than anything, this period signified the desire to bring new life to the
Web. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the organization behind the direction of
HTML at the time, had not released a recommendation for the HTML specification since
1999, when HTML 4.01 was released. For years after, the W3C was busy at work on
XHTML 1.0 and then XHTML 2.0, a reworked XML-based flavor of HTML that sought
to implement a stricter, more consistent coding practice. Since XHTML was based on
XML, web page authors needed to adhere to the specification exactly; otherwise, the
page would not load when it was not valid. The hope was the world's website authors
would adopt this new standard, flushing the Web of malformed markup. But there was
one problem. The world didn't switch.
Why XHTML 2.0 died and HTML5 thrived
By the time Web 2.0 was coined, there was mounting criticism toward the use of
XHTML. In an effort to accommodate browsers that did not support XHTML, web page
authors were writing XHTML markup but continued to serve the pages from their web
servers using the Internet MIME type “text/html,” instead of the proper “application/
xhtml+xml,” which would tell the browser it was viewing XML. The authors would
build what they thought were valid XHTML pages, yet without delivering the pages as
XML. They would not see any coding mistakes materializing in the browsers they were
building against. The point became lost. The XHTML syntax did not matter if it was not
being checked as such. In 2004 a group formed named the Web Hypertext Application
Working Group (WHATWG), which aimed to evolve good old HTML instead of focus-
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