XHTML, CSS, and Web Standards

June 1, 2008

HTML may appear similar at first, but in actuality XHTML is the combination of HTML and XML to allow it to be less complicated for non-traditional browsers (like those on a mobile phone). While it is less flexible than HTML (for example, every bracket must be closed, ie <br> has to be written as <br />, so that the backslash properly closes the element), it is cleaner, so it can be interpreted faster by browsers that don’t have as much resources to calculate odd elements. The article about XHTML from W3C itself is here.

It is basically a streamlining and standards issue. Web standards basically ensure that the site code is as uncomplicated as possible while at the same time making sure that the site can be viewed by as many people as possible (accessible) and will be able to be seen for years to come. The World Wide Web Consortium (or W3C) sets out recommendations as to what language would be most accessible and streamlined. This also fits into accessibility, but it also makes sure that each site is viewed the same way in every browser, and it won’t be like it was 10-15 years ago when each site had a “best viewed in…” statement.

Unfortunately, not all browsers are completely compatible. Internet Explorer is the biggest culprit, which is sad considering they have 76% of the usage share. While they support most standards, they do not support XHTML, and will only show it if it was written similarly to HTML. This will hopefully be fixed with IE8, as elaborated on in Fix the Compatibility Problems with IE8 Beta. Mozilla Firefox does support XHTML, but it does not pass the Acid2 test, which tests for rendering flaws in browsers. Opera does not render the Acid2 test as well (see Unintentionally Blank’s article Opera and Safari Hunt Down Bugs to Pass Acid 3).

CSS is a stylesheet language that defines the page’s presentation, including color and fonts. It is more flexible than defining these elements in HTML or XHTML and it allows for a different type of theme to show up based on the requirements of the browser, allowing for greater accessibility.


5 Responses to “XHTML, CSS, and Web Standards”

  1. I liked your explanation about XHTML. I found it difficult to eloquently discuss the differences between HTML and XHTML, but you did a great job here. I’m glad we, as budding web designers, are learning about resources to keep us up-to-date on the latest web standards so that we can stay ahead of the curve. Wow, and your comment “This site is best viewed in…” brings me back to another time. It makes me wonder what kind of tremendous changes will occur in the next 10-15 years as far as the internet goes.

  2. jdbosley said

    Hopefully the people at webstandards.org and others will help to begin bringing web code and browsers up to compliance with the necessary standards to help us reach global internet compatibility. From what I have read, there are not a whole lot of browsers that have passed the acid tests successfully so that is probably one of the first steps that need to be made towards this goal. If browsers started supporting, and only supporting, standardized programming language then web designers would have to start complying with the web standards set up by the folks at the W3C. That would cause problems with backwards compatibility though, so maybe that is a little bit drastic.

  3. mwcain81 said

    Good concise review of the 3 major languages and what they are used for. I also had a hard time figuring out what the differences between what HTML and XHTML were.

  4. usernumber said

    Ooooo now I understand the backslash! I was wondering about that when it automatically did it under my myspace pictures.

    I do not like Internet Explorer. At all.

  5. Seems like you understand a great deal related to this particular topic and this
    exhibits via this excellent post, termed “XHTML, CSS, and Web Standards The world as viewed by Nicosilva”.
    I am grateful -Roma

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