About XHTML

Description: You might be happy with using HTML for now, but XHTML is set to be the language of the future. Find out more here.

People in general - being the individuals that they are - tend to view pages on the internet using a variety of different browsers. So while you might be surfing the web via a Firefox browser, your neighbor might be viewing it using Internet Explorer (IE).

Now this might not seem like a huge problem - after all you can both access the same sites. But the problem comes when you realize that you aren't both viewing exactly the same pages - even though you have both visited the same web address.

So how could this happen? After all, the webmaster has written his pages in HTML, done everything properly and created a good site which is available for viewing on the internet. What could go wrong?

Actually something already did. The acronym HTML appeared in that sentence, and that's where the problem lies.

HTML was great when everyone was viewing exactly the same browser. But as more alternatives were introduced and updated, it became clear that HTML was causing problems. It couldn't keep up with these new technologies.

That's what XHTML comes in. It was created as a new enhanced version of HTML, which also brings XML (extensible markup language) into play to create code which can be read and translated easily by every browser in existence. It should also continue to work quite happily into the future, because XML acts as a vehicle to make the transfer of the information complete.

When you start learning about XHTML, you will discover that it is now necessary that you get all your tags exactly where they should be - in the right order and in the right place, every time. HTML is a bit more forgiving in this respect; if you mix up your tags a little and swap two around without realizing, you would probably get away with it, even though that particular piece of the HTML document was in theory wrong. That won't happen with XHTML, which means that all the data online should eventually be more streamlined than it is at the moment, and thus easier to read - whatever browser you might be using.

You're probably thinking that XHTML sounds like a more precise language, and you'd be right. If you forget a tag in HTML it might not matter, but it will if you write that same document in XHTML.

The good news is that just as HTML is really a very straightforward language to pick up and understand, XHTML seems to have carried that particular trait forward. That's good because it will make it more accessible and usable for more people.

If you are thinking of transforming your existing HTML coding into XHTML, go online and find some free tutorials before you begin. You'll find that you need to pay far more attention to your tags with XHTML to make sure they are spot on, so make this a priority. Once you understand how they work and what the essential differences are, you will be better placed to write effective XHTML right from the very start.

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