HTML and CSS Reference
In-Depth Information
little to change this thinking, with the latest browser hacks and filters as popular as the pixel
tricks and table hacks of the generation before. Developers tend to favor that which is easy
and seems to work, so why bother to put more time in, particularly if browsers render the
almost right markup with little complaint and notice?
Obviously, this “good enough” approach simply isn't good enough. Without standards,
the modern world wouldn't work well. For example, imagine a world of construction in
which every nut and bolt might be a slightly different size. Standards provide needed
consistency. The Web needs standards, but standards have to acknowledge what people
actually do. Declaring that Web developers really need to validate, use logical markup, and
separate the look from the structure of the document is great but it doesn't get them to do
so. Standards are especially pointless if they are never widely implemented.
Web technologies today are like English—widely understood but poorly spoken. However,
at the same time they are the Latin of the Web, providing a strong foundation for development
and intersecting with numerous technologies. Web standards and development practices
provide an interesting study of the difference between what theorists say and what people
want and do. HTML5 seems a step in the right direction. The specification acknowledges that,
for better or worse, traditional HTML practices are here for now, and thus attempts to make
them solid while continuing to move technology forward and encourage correct usage.
Myths and Misconceptions 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. This section covers a few of the
more common misconceptions about HTML and tries to expose the truth behind them.
Misconception: WYSIWYG Works on the Web
(X)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 using
(X)HTML elements inappropriately or using images to make up for HTML's lack of screen
and font-handling features. Interestingly, even the concept of a visual WYSIWG editor
propagates this myth of HTML as a page layout language. Other technologies, such as CSS,
are far better than HTML for handling presentation issues and their use returns HTML to its
structural roots. However, the battle to make the end user see exactly what you see on your
screen is likely to be a futile one.
Misconception: 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. The introduction of scripting languages such as JavaScript into Web documents
and the confusing terms Dynamic HTML (DHTML) and Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript
and XML) tacked on may lead many to overestimate or underestimate the role of markup in
the mix. However, markup is an important foundation for scripting and should be treated
with the same syntactical precision that script is given.
Misconception: XHTML Is the Only Future
Approaching its tenth birthday, XHTML still has yet to make much inroads in the widespread
building of Web pages. Sorry to say, most documents are not authored in XHTML, and many
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