This is W3C's home page for HTML. Here you will find pointers to our specifications for HTML, guidelines on how to use HTML to the best effect, and pointers to related work at W3C. When W3C decides to become involved in an area of Web technology or policy, it initiates an activity in that area. HTML is one of many Activities currently being pursued. You can learn more about the HTML activity from the HTML Activity Statement.
The second draft for the XHTML Events is now available. This specification defines the XHTML Event Module, a module that provides XHTML host languages with the ability to uniformly integrate behaviors with Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 event interfaces. This specification also defines the XHTML Basic Event Module, a module which subsets the XHTML Event Module for simpler applications and simpler client devices, and the XHTML Event Types Module, a module defining XHTML language event types.
The second draft for the XForms Data Model is now available. XForms is W3C's name for next generation Web forms. The key idea is to separate the user interface and presentation from the data model and logic. XForms brings XML to Web forms, transferring form data as XML. See also the Press Release and Testimonials for the first public draft.
Updated HTML Working Group Roadmap is now available as a W3C Note. It sets out the timeline and deliverables for the HTML Working Group.
XHTML 1.0 became a W3C Recommendation on 26 January 2000. It is a reformulation of HTML 4.01 in XML, bringing the rigor of XML to HTML, and can be put to immediate use with existing browsers by following a few simple guidelines. Check out the Press Release and Testimonials.
HTML 4.01, released on 24th December 1999, fixes bugs in the HTML 4.0 specification, which for instance, omitted the name attribute on the img and form elements. HTML 4.01 defines the semantics and datatypes for HTML.
XHTML 1.0 is W3C's recommendation for the latest version of HTML, following on from earlier work on HTML 4.01, HTML 4.0, HTML 3.2 and HTML 2.0. With a wealth of features, XHTML 1.0 is a reformulation of HTML 4.01 in XML, and combines the strength of HTML4 with the power of XML.
XHTML Strict - Use this when you want really clean structural mark-up, free of any tags associated with layout. Use this together with W3C's Cascading Style Sheet language (CSS) to get the font, color, and layout effects you want.
XHTML Frameset - Use this when you want to use HTML Frames to partition the browser window into two or more frames.
XHTML is modular making it easy to combine with markup tags for things like vector graphics, multimedia, math, electronic commerce and more. Content providers will find it easier to produce content for a wide range of platforms, with better assurances as to how the content is rendered.
The modular design reflects the realization that a one-size-fits-all approach will no longer work in a world where browsers vary enormously in their capabilities. A browser in a cellphone can't offer the same experience as a top of the range multimedia desktop machine. The cellphone doesn't even have the memory to load the page designed for the desktop browser.
XHTML 1.0 is the first step and the HTML working group is busy on the next. XHTML 1.0 reformulates HTML as an XML application. This makes it easier to process and easier to maintain. XHTML 1.0 borrows the tags from W3C's earlier work on HTML 4, and can be interpreted by existing browsers, by following a few simple guidelines. This allows you to start using XHTML now!
You can roll over your old HTML documents into XHTML using W3C's Open Source HTML Tidy utility. This tool also cleans up markup errors, removes clutter and prettifies the markup making it easier to maintain.
HTML 4.01 is a revision of the HTML 4.0 Recommendation first released on 18th December 1997. The revision fixes minor errors that have been found since then. The XHTML 1.0 spec relies on HTML 4.01 for the meanings of HTML tags. This allowed us to reduce the size of the XHTML 1.0 spec very considerably.
Here is a link to further information on the modularization of XHTML.
This is a W3C NOTE that describes the timeline for deliverables of the HTML working group.
This working draft specifies a modularization of XHTML 1.0. There are two aspects to the proposed modularization: modularization into semantic modules, and implementation of these semantic modules through a document type definition (DTD). Semantic modules provide a means for subsetting and extending XHTML, a feature desired for extending XHTML's reach onto emerging platforms. Modularization at the DTD level improves the ability to create new complete DTDs from XHTML and other DTD modules.
This working draft defines the mechanism for defining markup language modules that are compatible with the modularization framework used by XHTML. This includes a definition of the way in which an abstract module is specified, the way in which this abstraction is mapped into an XML DTD, and the way in which the resulting DTD module can be combined with other XHTML DTD modules to create new markup languages. In the future, it is expected that instructions will also be provided for mapping the abstract specifications into an XML Schema. Note that the materials in this document were formerly part of the Modularization of XHTML document, but have been separated out for editorial purposes.
This working draft defines a new XHTML document type that is based solely upon the module framework defined in Building XHTML Modules and the modules defined in Modularization of XHTML. The purpose of this document type is to serve as the basis for future extended XHTML family document types, and to provide a consistent, forward looking document type cleanly separated from the deprecated, legacy function of HTML 4.0 that was brought forward into XHTML 1.0 document types. Note that the materials in this document were formerly part of the Modularization of XHTML document, but have been separated out for editorial purposes.
Forms were introduced into HTML in 1993 and have proven to be a valuable part of many Web pages. The experience of the last few years has led to demands for improvements to HTML forms. XHTML Extended Forms is a major revision of HTML Forms. Key goals for the next generation of web forms include improved interoperability and accessibility, enhanced client/server interaction, advanced forms logic, support for internationalization and greater flexibility in presentation.Work is now starting on defining specifications meeting these requirements, and the XForms Working Group has been formed. Check the XForms home page for more information.
The increasing disparities between the capabilities of different kinds of Web browsers present challenges to Web content developers wishing to reach a wide audience. A promising approach is to formally describe profiles for documents intended for broad groups of browsers, for instance, separate document profiles for browsers running on desktops, television, handhelds, cellphones and voice browsers. Document profiles provide a basis for interoperability guarantees. If an author develops content for a given profile and a browser supports the profile then the author may be confident that the document will be rendered as expected. The requirements for document profiles are analyzed.
The XHTML Basic document type is a subset of XHTML 1.1. It contains the basic XHTML features inlcluding text structure, images, basic forms, and basic tables. It is designed for Web clients that do not support the full set of XHTML features; for example, Web clients such as mobile phones, PDAs, pagers, and settop boxes. The document type definition is implemented using XHTML modules as defined in "Modularization of XHTML".
This specification defines the XHTML Event Module, an XHTML module that provides XML languages with the ability to represent in syntax the semantics of the Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 event interfaces.
We would like to hear from you via email. Please send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org (archive). Don't forget to include XHTML in the subject line.
FONT tag considered harmful! Many filters from word-processing packages, and also some HTML authoring tools, generate HTML code which is completely contrary to the design goals of the language. What they do is to look at a document almost purely from the point of view of layout, and then mimic that layout in HTML by doing tricks with FONT, BR and (non-breaking spaces). HTML documents are supposed to be structured around items such as paragraphs, headings and lists. Yet some of these documents barely have a paragraph tag in sight!
The problem comes when the content of pages needs to be updated, or given a new layout, or re-cast in XML (which is now to be the new mark-up language). With proper use of HTML, such operations are not difficult, but with a muddle of non-structural tags it's quite a different matter; maintenance tasks become impractical. To correct pages suffering from injudicious use of FONT, try the HTML Tidy program, which will do its best to put things right and generate better and more manageable HTML.
Make your pages readable by those with disabilities. The Web is a tremendously useful tool for the visually impaired or blind user, but bear in mind that these users rely on speech synthesizers or Braille readers to render the text. Sloppy mark-up, or mark-up which doesn't have the layout defined in a separate style sheet, is hard for such software to deal with. Wherever possible, use a style sheet for the presentational aspects of your pages, using HTML purely for structural mark-up.
Also, remember to include descriptions with each image, and try to avoid server-side image maps. For tables, you should include a summary of the table's structure, and remember to associate table data with relevant headers. This will give non-visual browsers a chance to help orientate people as they move from one cell to the next. For forms, remember to include labels for form fields.
Content providers can use this service to validate their Web pages against the HTML 4.0 Recommendation, thereby ensuring the maximum possible audience for their Web pages. In addition, it can be used to check conformance against previous versions of HTML, including the W3C Recommendation for HTML 3.2 and the IETF HTML 2.0 standard.
To allow authors to broaden their audience even further to those with disabilities, the service will be updated according to the guidelines produced by W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). You can also test your pages for accessibility using the Web-based Bobby service.
Software developers who write HTML editing tools can ensure interoperability with other Web software by verifying that the output of their tool complies with the W3C Recommendations for HTML.
Vannevar Bush in the 1940's, in his article As we may think, describes his vision for a computer aided hypertext system he named the memex. His vivid description of browsing the Web of linked information, includes the ability to easily insert new information of your own, to add to the growing web. Dr. Bush was the Director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development, and coordinated war time research in the application of science to war.
Other visionaries include Douglas Engelbart, who founded the Augmentation Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in 1963. He is widely creditied with helping to develop the computer mouse, hypertext, groupware and many other seminal technologies. He now directs the Bootstrap Institute, which is dedicated to the development of collective IQ in networked communities.
Ted Nelson has spent his life promoting a global hypertext system called Xanadu. He coined the term hypertext, and is well known for his books: Literary Machines and Dream Machines, which describe hypermedia including branching movies, such as the film at the Czechoslovakian Pavilion at Expo `67.
The ACM SIGWEB, formerly SIGLINK, has for many years been the center for academic research into hypertext systems, sponsoring a series of annual conferences. SIGLINK was formed in 1989 following a workshop on hypertext, held in 1987 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Bill Atkinson best known for MacPaint, an easy to use bitmap painting program, gave the world its first popular hypertext system HyperCard. Released in 1987, HyperCard made it easy for anyone to create graphical hypertext applications. It features bitmapped graphics, form fields, scripting and fast full text search. HyperCard is based on a stack of cards metaphor with shared backgrounds. It spawned imitators such as Asymmetrix Toolbook which used drawn graphics and ran on the PC. The OWL Guide was the first professional hypertext system for large scale applications, it predates HyperCard by one year and followed in the footsteps made by Xerox NoteCards, a Lisp-based hypertext system, released in 1985.
Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Caillau both worked at CERN, an international high energy physics research center near Geneva. In 1989 they collaborated on ideas for a linked information system that would be accessible across the wide range of different computer systems in use at CERN. At that time many people were using TeX and Postscript for their documents. A few were using SGML. Tim realized that something simpler was needed that would cope with dumb terminals through high end graphical X Windows workstations. HTML was conceived as a very simple solution, and matched with a very simple network protocol HTTP.
CERN launched the Web in 1991 along with a mailing list called www-talk. Other people thinking along the same lines soon joined and helped to grow the web by setting up Web sites and implementing browsers, such as, Cello, Viola, and MidasWWW. The break through came when the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA) at Urbana-Champaign encouraged Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina to develop the X Windows Mosaic browser. It was later ported to PCs and Macs and became a run-away sucess story. The Web grew exponentially, eclipsing other Internet based information systems such as WAIS, Hytelnet, Gopher, and UseNet.
We hope to extend this summary and are interested in getting hold of screen shots and feature lists for early browsers. This is your chance to help! You may also be interested in Marc Weber and Kevin Hughes' Web history site, and Shahrooz Feizabadi's short history of the Web and the Internet. We would like to add links to other sites dealing with the history of the web, so please let us know.