XHTML expert Molly Holzschlag discusses how XHTML is a logical step in the evolution of Web markup.
Looking around at the amount of HTML out there that is poorly written, it's amazing that Web pages work as well as they do, much less work at all. And while most of the Web does seem to work, the reality is that we are very limited in terms of being able to make progress, to create truly interoperable sites, and to create sites that are both well-designed and authored correctly.
XHTML 1.0 seeks to better this situation. Numerous points prove XHTML to be a logical step in the evolution of Web markup. Here are some of the most important reasons of which I am aware:
- XHTML 1.0 addresses the problem of poorly written markup—The first and most upsetting thing about the state of HTML is that there is no consistency among the way documents are developed. Whether a person authors HTML by hand or uses a development tool of some kind, code results tend to be as far from the standards as one can imagine. XHTML brings the concept of rules into the picture, ensuring that, at least in general, code adheres to a specific syntax.
- XHTML 1.0 encourages Web authors and Web browser developers to separate style and document formatting—This problem was originally addressed in HTML 4.0. However, browsers have been sluggish when it comes to strong style sheet support. XHTML 1.0 continues holding this cause high. The results are more streamlined documents—and more control born of style sheet intelligence for the designer.
- XHTML 1.0 makes a strong point to Web authors, browser developers, and software manufacturers to create consistent products and results—Frustrated with interoperability problems? If everyone is adhering to a base standard, those problems would become much less cumbersome. New technologies would be developed on top of a common, sophisticated base, giving designers and developers the authoring power they need, as well as clearing the way for innovative opportunities.
- XHTML 1.0 provides an opportunity to transcend the limitations of current technology—A major issue in XHTML 1.0 is the capability to extend beyond the limitations of the Web. No doubt you've heard the buzz about wireless? Well, to open up possibilities for Web authors to also easily create documents that span across network types or to tap into the power of transformation technologies such as Extensible Style Sheet Transformations (XSLT, a specialized style sheet used for XML applications), the move away from HTML is not only desirable, but also necessary.
At the very least, XHTML 1.0 offers Web authors a way of bringing order to the chaos that rules their Web design and development world. It's like learning to speak a language properly—you gain more respect because you can use the language more convincingly. At the other end of the spectrum, XHTML 1.0 enables the professional Web author to prepare himself or herself for upcoming technological challenges. XHTML 1.0 helps make XML—and many of XML's applications—very accessible because you begin first with a vocabulary that you understand: HTML.
An author, instructor, and designer, Molly E. Holzschlag brings her irrepressible enthusiasm to books, classrooms, and Web sites. Honored as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Women on the Web, Molly has worked in the online world for an almost unprecedented decade. She has written and contributed to more than 10 books about the Internet and, in particular, the Web.
Molly holds a B.A. in communications and writing and an M.A. in media studies from the New School for Social Research. You can visit her Web site at http://www.molly.com/.
Molly's most recent publications are Special Edition Using XHTML(Que, November 2000), Sams Teach Yourself Adobe LiveMotion in 24 Hours (Sams, June 2000), and Special Edition Using HTML 4.0, Sixth Edition (Que, December 1999).