Guidance manual for moving from HTML to XHTML
It’s the sub-title of this book which is most significant. ‘The Next Generation of HTML’ signals its overall purpose – to explain how you can make the transition from HTML to XHTML. Why is this important? Because HTML has been superseded as the language of web design by XML – and XHTML is a version of it which will help you to move from one to the other. Ian Graham starts by explaining the difference between HTML and XHTML as markup languages, then describes basic document structure. This might seem tedious at first, but these issues are becoming increasingly important.
Document definitions are crucial once the X element [extensibility] is introduced into HTML. The new markup language opens up lots of new possibilities – particularly if you want to make your Web pages available on a variety of platforms and devices. After all, you can now write a page once, then adapt it for a variety of purposes by using different style sheets.
He covers all the basics of text presentation, hypertext links, graphics, then the spacing and layout that becomes possible by using style sheets. All the techniques he discusses are illustrated by both screen shots and code – so you can easily try out your own versions of effects – from layering to the tricky issues of styles within tables. He also very usefully provides illustrations of the same page viewed in different browsers.
He deals with the more advanced issues of frames, floating elements, tables, and forms, plus the possibilities of scripting and event handlers in dynamic pages.
The last part of the book contains two comprehensive reference lists – XHTML elements and cascading style sheet specifications, plus a section which explains the important differences for those people who wish to make the transition between HTML and XHTML.
There is even a website version of the book available which he promises to keep up to date – and I particularly liked the fact that he lists the (often free) development tools you will need if you plan to go down the XHTML route.
© Roy Johnson 2003
Ian S. Graham, XHTML 1.0 – Language and Design Sourcebook: The Next Generation HTML, London/New York John Wiley, 2000, pp.692, ISBN 0471374857