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The Definition of HTML

Friday 13 February, 2004 (10:29AM GMT)

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, but it can imply much more.

I'm raising this point following arguments over the term, how I use it and what it can mean, and more specific questions along the lines of "why is HTML Dog called HTML Dog when it's about XHTML and CSS?". So here's my interpretation of 'HTML' and the reasons behind the 'HTML' in HTML Dog.

Firstly, the slightly smaller point about XHTML. Let's get this straight - XHTML is HTML. I'm not saying anything as specific as XHTML is HTML 4 or whatever, simply that XHTML, by its very definition, if a form of HTML - it's eXtensible HTML. XHTML is HTML just as a green banana is still a banana.

HTML is a much more recognisable abbreviation than XHTML and it has become a part of everyday language. That 'HTML' is more recognisable (particularly to beginners) was reason enough to call the website HTML Dog instead of XHTML Dog.

My next point is perhaps a bigger and more controversial one. It is that the term 'HTML' can also imply 'HTML and CSS'.

Whether right or wrong, modern HTML is intrinsically linked with CSS and when people who know what they are talking about talk of 'HTML' they often mean 'HTML and CSS'. For example, the 'official' job titles I have gone by over the years have been 'HTML Developer' or something similar. The jobs I find nowadays are for similarly titled roles. But these jobs always require knowledge and application of CSS.

HTML has become a shorthand term that may be historically and logically incorrect (when it comes to describing CSS) but can validly describe and be understood as XHTML and CSS.


Comment 1

Umm no.
CSS is its own language. It just has to run inside a HTML document or linked to one. Just like Javascript. It's nothing at all without HTML, but that doesn't mean it's part of the HTML language.
DC's definition: XHTML is an unnecessarily compliocated, unnecessarily stricter version of HTML that only people who have no backbone to the w3c use.
That's not another attack against you, it's just the official definition that SMHC decided on.
Nuff said.

So said Dante Evans on Saturday 14 February, 2004 at 11:14PM GMT.

Comment 2

Dante, the point I am making is not that CSS is part of the HTML *language*, but rather the *term* 'HTML' can imply both HTML *and* CSS languages.

So said Patrick on Sunday 15 February, 2004 at 12:04PM GMT.

Comment 3

A lot of it comes down to 'HTML' being less of a mouthful than 'HTML and CSS'.

So said Chris on Sunday 15 February, 2004 at 3:28PM GMT.

Comment 4

*shrugs* He's making it too complicated again...

So said Dante Evans on Sunday 15 February, 2004 at 7:29PM GMT.

Comment 5

Looks good Patrick.

Just so you know, I've recommended your site to anyone who asks me about HTML, XHTML and CSS. It's a great starting point for beginners and an excellent refresh for novices alike.

I also remind them that getting your feet wet is the best thing. It helps to start somewhere and no matter what anyone says, no one is an expert. We are all constantly learning.

So said kartooner on Monday 16 February, 2004 at 1:25PM GMT.

Comment 6

html and css go hand in hand. we just use css as a way to format our text n the web page. its a good practice to use css. it makes the whole web page to be consistent and a particluar standard can be followed throught out the development of the web site

So said florence on Wednesday 15 September, 2004 at 11:30AM GMT.

Comment 7

i think css is just extention of html, becouse we can't use it outside html, isn't it?

So said Jerry on Saturday 10 December, 2005 at 6:46PM GMT.

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