Article
Extensible HyperText Markup Language (xHTML)

XHTML is a family of current and future document types and modules that reproduce, subset, and extend HTML 4 [HTML4]. XHTML family document types are XML based, and ultimately are designed to work in conjunction with XML-based user agents.

XHTML 1.0 is the first document type in the XHTML family. It is a reformulation of the three HTML 4 document types as applications of XML 1.0. It is intended to be used as a language for content that is both XML-conforming and, if some simple guidelines are followed, operates in HTML 4 conforming user agents. Developers who migrate their content to XHTML 1.0 will realize the following benefits:

  • XHTML documents are XML conforming. As such, they are readily viewed, edited, and validated with standard XML tools.
  • XHTML documents can be written to operate as well or better than they did before in existing HTML 4-conforming user agents as well as in new, XHTML 1.0 conforming user agents.
  • XHTML documents can utilize applications (e.g. scripts and applets) that rely upon either the HTML Document Object Model or the XML Document Object Model.
  • As the XHTML family evolves, documents conforming to XHTML 1.0 will be more likely to interoperate within and among various XHTML environments.

What is HTML 4 ?
HTML 4 [HTML4] is an SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) application conforming to International Standard ISO 8879, and is widely regarded as the standard publishing language of the World Wide Web.

SGML is a language for describing markup languages, particularly those used in electronic document exchange, document management, and document publishing. HTML is an example of a language defined in SGML.

SGML has been around since the middle 1980's and has remained quite stable. Much of this stability stems from the fact that the language is both feature-rich and flexible. This flexibility, however, comes at a price, and that price is a level of complexity that has inhibited its adoption in a diversity of environments, including the World Wide Web.

HTML, as originally conceived, was to be a language for the exchange of scientific and other technical documents, suitable for use by non-document specialists. HTML addressed the problem of SGML complexity by specifying a small set of structural and semantic tags suitable for authoring relatively simple documents. In addition to simplifying the document structure, HTML added support for hypertext. Multimedia capabilities were added later.

In a remarkably short space of time, HTML became wildly popular and rapidly outgrew its original purpose. Since HTML's inception, there has been rapid invention of new elements for use within HTML (as a standard) and for adapting HTML to vertical, highly specialized, markets. This plethora of new elements has led to interoperability problems for documents across different platforms.

What is XML ?
XML is the shorthand name for Extensible Markup Language [XML].

XML was conceived as a means of regaining the power and flexibility of SGML without most of its complexity. Although a restricted form of SGML, XML nonetheless preserves most of SGML's power and richness, and yet still retains all of SGML's commonly used features.

While retaining these beneficial features, XML removes many of the more complex features of SGML that make the authoring and design of suitable software both difficult and costly.


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