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CS114 XHTML (Web Publishing 1)

Section 1 - What is XHTML

  1. What this chapter is about
    1. What is XHTML, how does it relate to web design
      1. What is XHTML - Language that is used to create web pages - makes the web and all it's boundless glory possible. Show examples of web pages.
      2. What makes XHTML special, and different than programs like Microsoft Word? - main things are ability to link pages, can you imagine the web without links; and fact that all technologies are in public domain, which means they are free. It could be different, every web site could require a licensed app, so you would have to pay to access.
      3. What does XHTML stand for? - XHTML stands for eXtensible HyperText Markup Language, and it is closely related to HTML which stands for HyperText Markup Language. XHTML name is a description of what it is and what it does. To understand this, let's look at a simple example. Here's a simple example, and how it's displayed. You can also see the XHTML code behind any web pages by loading the page in the browser and selecting View Source. Most pages are a little complicated, but by the end of the year you'll be able to understand the code used to create them.
      4. What is the difference between HTML and XHTML? - Is some sense they are the same thing, as they use the same building blocks, that is they use the same elements and attributes. But technically they are different. The short explanation is XHTML is the XML version of HTML. But unless you already know something about HTML and XML this statement probably makes no sense. Longer explanation is that when you write XHTML, you have to follow a few more rules. The rules are actually very simple, for example, you can only use lower case for tags in XHTML, while HTML allows upper case or lower case. And there are only 3 or 4, which you will learn in the next section. The rules are so simple that creating new XHTML documents is just as easy as creating HTML documents, so you may as well use XHTML because XHTML pages can be displayed on any device, while devices such as cell phones or tablets may not display HTML documents. Here's an analogy to help you understand. Let's say you're creating a book of recipes. Let's also assume that you have spoons and cups and scales that can be set to measure in any unit. With HTML you could use any units of measurement that you wished in your recipe book. You could use ounces, liters, drams and drabs, spoonfuls, hadnfuls and pinches, anything at all. The recipe units are "loose", which makes it a little harder for people to use your recipes. If someone wants to cook using one of your recipes, they'll have to either use the units of measurement you specify, or find some way to convert from your unit to one they understand. With XHTML, it would be a similar situation except the recipe units would be "tight". You, along with every other cook in the world, would have decided to use just one system of measurement for all your recipes. That is, you would all use either the metric units like liters and grams, or you would all use cups and ounces. Everyone would use the same measurements. This wouldn't make it any harder for you to write recipes, but it would sure make it a lot easier for people to share recipes. It's a very similar situation with HTML and XHTML. While the differences may seem trivial, the way HTML is written is considered loose, while XHTML is considered tight. Since XHTML is tight, it's much easier for the devices and programs that have to display web pages. So devices like cell phones and tablets are much more likely to display XHTML pages than they are HTML pages. If you want the complete explanation, check out section 14 where we discuss XHTML's past and where it's going in the future.
    2. What is Web Design, how is it different than XHTML? Web designers need to know more than just the technical aspects of XHTML. - think of building homes. Learning HTML is like learning to use hammers and nails, saws to do construction. But knowing how to cut wood and nail it together doesn't guarantee that you can build homes that are attractive, efficient and functional. Could still build ugly home, with bath tub in the kitchen and the main entry on the roof. The same goes for making web pages. People that know XHTML can build web pages, but that's no guarantee that the pages will look good and be easy to use. In fact, I'm sure you've seen plenty that don't look good or are hard to use. To be a web designer must be well versed in XHTML, but web design is more than just technical design aspects of XHTML. Must also know visual design, designing for usability, designing for accessibility, and designing for search engine optimization.
    3. Why learn XHTML - why not use WYSIWYG tools like Dreamweaver, Expression Web or Photoshop? - use microwave cooking analogy.
    4. Professional web design, other technical skills - css, javascript, XML, basic skills, and adv database w SQL or Oracle, and programming with PHP or Python, or ASP.Net. These names may not be familiar now, and you don't need to worry about them at this point, But what you do need to know is that the place to start is with XHTML, as it's the basis for everything else. It's like learning to write a novel. You'll need to learn about grammer, spelling and punctutation, and constructing a story, but before you do any of that you'll need to learn about the alphabet and letters.
    5. Another thing you'll need to start learning about is the Groups involved in setting standards and making technical decisions. In this video learn about some of the groups and organizations that you'll need to know about if you want to be a web designer. The reason we discuss this is if you want to build many things, like a house or a car, there will organizations that have rules and standards that you will have to meet. Some may define certain minimum standards. For example, if you build a car there are goverment organizations that have defined minimum safety standards and mileage that your cars will have to meet before you can drive them on the street or sell them to the public. Or if you build a home or building there are many standards for construction, electrical, plumbing etc. You're work will have to pass many inspections during all phases of the construction to ensure the work meets the minimum technical specifications. Then there will a different group that defines best practices. which are not minimum standards, but a set of specs for the best way to build. So let's look at the two groups that perform these functions for web design. The first group is the World Wide Web Consortium, which is commonly known as the W3C. They are the group the publishes the official document for XHTML. Although it's a little funny that they don't call it the XHTML Standard. Instead they call it the XHTML Recommendation. The reason they call it this is that, unlike automobile or construction standards there are no legal requirements behind the documents. For the web to work, the W3C suggests that you follow their recommendations, but you don't have to. At least, there aren't any web police that will cite you or arrest you if you fail to follow the recommendations. You can think of the XHTML Recommendation as the minimum standard your web pages should meet. And again, the group that maintains and publishes this is the World Wide Web Consortium or W3C. Their web address is They are actually in charge of all kinds of languages we use in web design including HTML, XHTML, CSS, and XML. The W3C is not a government organization, they're made up of some of the people who had a hand in the early development of the web plus other interested individuals and organizations such as Microsoft and Mozilla. In fact, anyone that is interested in the keeping the web vibrant and growing can join. So the W3C is the group that defines the elements and attributes we can use in building web pages, but they don't tell you the best ways to put them together. Another group, consisting mainly of web designers, has defined the best practices for building web pages. This group is called the Web Standards Project, which they abbreviate as WaSP. If you follow the WaSP guidelines your pages will be technically sound, accessible, and easy to maintain. Their website is at We'll be using all of the WaSP guidelines
  2. What is XHTML
    1. Technical - Language of the web
    2. Used by all web pages, and basis of language used by handheld and other devices.
  3. Why Learn it
  4. What else do I need to know to be a professional web designer
  5. How is XHTML different than HTML and XML
  6. The Web Design Community, who makes the rules
  7. Browsers and the Web
  8. HTML 5 and the Future

Wasp INTERact Curriculum

In this section you will learn what XHTML is.

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