Tutorial series – X/HTML Design Tips

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Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I’m going to start a new, easy-lifting tutorial series that I’ve been meaning to do for a while. It’s focus will be useful exploitation of the X/HTML standard for marking-up your pages in an elegant yet standards-compliant way. I will make an attempt to reference other excellent sources that exist throughout the webiverse wherever appropriate, but for the most part, a lot of these ideas have just come from my own exploration and experimentation with the specification.

Some of the things I will be covering in this tutorial series include (but are not limited to):

  • The usage of lesser-known but fully-supported X/HTML tags for common & useful purposes
  • Emphasis on a semantic presentation of content
  • Minimization of unnecessary markup
  • Strict adherence to both the spirit & the letter of the pertinent standards
  • Examples of how to exploit the synergy between pertinent standards (e.g., X/HTML, CSS, etc.)
  • How to avoid using deprecated tags, attributes, and techniques in favor of more sanctioned alternatives

Comments, questions, and suggestions related to the topics presented are always welcome, and I will do my best to answer them, but no promises are being made.

X/HTML is as ubiquitous as a standard can be, yet it is rarely used to its full potential (or correctly, for that matter). There are many aspects of this elegant language that, while fully-supported by nearly all standard browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, & Konquerer [and, therefore, more-or-less, Safari]), are extremely under-utilized. This, in fact, leads to a lot of effort to duplicate their functionality through less-appropriate means – whether via static graphics, Javascript, or even (*shudder*) attempting to mimick their layout through the use of tables. What follows is a brief tutorial introducing these often-neglected tags & practices that can bring with them some tremendous advantages in terms of development time, efficiency, & standards-compliance.

I keep referring to HTML or XHTML as X/HTML simply because, for the most part, the specifications of HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.0 can more or less be losslessly decomposed into one-another back-and-forth, so there are very few actual differences between the two. The focus of XHTML 1.0 was to take HTML 4.01 and convert it into a valid XML application. So, while I will be sticking to XHTML syntax throughout my examples (lower-cased tag & attribute names, all tags must be closed, etc.), all tags and their usages are completely valid between the two specs, should you choose one over the other for any particular reason.

I am looking forward to sharing this joint experience with you guys, and I do hope you’ll enjoy & benefit from reading it, as I am sure I will  in writing it, in shaa Allaah.

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