August 22, 2014
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  • April 3, 2000
  • By Joe Burns
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XHTML: Good or Bad?

I guess, once again, that depends on who you talk to. The W3C says the two main selling points are "extensibility and portability". I'll add "standardization" to that.

  • Extensibility: XHTML is extendable. You can create your own tags and add onto it.
  • Portability: Those new tags are done in such a way that all can understand it. (See the tutorial).
  • Standardization: Now we have a true template for what is and is not acceptable coding. Everyone must follow that template.

On the other side of the coin, I see a couple of problems.

I guess it's that first concern that worries me the most. I just don't want HTML to become a ghost hiding behind a language that the average Joe can't pick up. I wouldn't want those who run the coding show to "take back" programming on the Web by making it too difficult. I just hate the thought of that.

An Example

I took this example straight from the W3C's XHTML 1.0 page:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE html 
     PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN"
<html xmlns="" xml:lang="en"
    <title>Virtual Library</title>
    <p>Moved to <a href=""></a>.</p>

As you can see, the coding is very strict and maybe a little complicated for the HTML enthusiast. The language is available right now if you want to try it out. I would suggest using an Internet Explorer 5.0 level browser. Follow the rules laid out in this tutorial and the XML custom tags tutorial.

Write slowly and deliberately. HTML was forgiving. XHTML is not. You may want to read a bit more and look at some XHTML source codes by visiting the Yahoo! XHTML Page. Many of the pages offering help are actually written in XHTML.

Once you're finished writing, use the W3C Validator Service to check your work.

I don't see HTML ever going the way of the dinosaur, but I do expect to see it becoming more and more rigid under the XML umbrella. It's only a matter of time before all major search engines and server systems choose XML for database programming. HTML will need to start working under their choices.

Thanks to XHTML, you'll be able to continue writing in the HTML you've come to know and love. You just may need to clean it up a bit.

My guess is that XHTML 2.0 will specifically clean up HTML tags and their usage.


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