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The age of semantic web
updated by rck, 2004-10-20

Contemporary web designers have two things in common: They all sigh about the lack of standards support in webpages. And they all try to reach table-less design. This isn't the only goal to go for.

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The web as we know it

The web, as we know it, started in 1990 with the WorldWideWeb browser/editor. It was pretty basic, from a web designer's point of view. Pictures (img-tag), headlines, links... that's about it.

On the other hand, Nexus (as it was called later, to avoid confusion with the term for Cyberspace), was a editor as well -- Mosasic, the browser that enabled non-NeXT platforms to enjoy the web, wasn't capable of editing. Neither was Internet Explorer (which based on Mosaic), nor Netscape (which based on Mosaic as well).

While the idea of editing webpages got reinvented later with Netscape Gold, other ideas like browse the next link of the list I viewed before haven't been seen in current browsers as of yet.

Phase 2: Making the Web look better

Nexus was meant to be a concept of using hyperlinked pieces of text. It was built to be fast and usable. Not a flashy toy that's nice to look at.

Netscape, on the other hand, wanted to get market shares fast. And thus, they gave people, what made Netscape big: Propritary tags to make webpages look good. So people started to use Netscape more and more often, simply because there were more and more pages optimized for it.

Then came Microsoft. Pretty late, some might say, as it was 1995 already when IE 1.0 shipped with Windows 95 Plus!. Pretty impressive, others might say, as IE 3.0 included JAVA, Video, Audio, ActiveX and CSS support.

Oh, and IE introduced of course a couple of different propritary tags. It had to, how would they have been able to introduce those features otherwise? The Browser War was in full effect.

Phase 3: Getting away from tables

HTML 4 introduced the table-tag. This was a blessing on the on hand, a curse on the other. While people realized early, that tables can be used for layout as well and put it to good use, there are a whole lot ofreasons not to.

The w3c came up with a better, more flexible and faster loading solution: Cascading Style Sheets, CSS for short. It didn't really work out until lately, as the browsers support differed quite enormous. Besides, if you are used to something, you don't give it up too easily.

As of now, more and more people transfer their webdesign from tables to css. Which is good. But we can improve our html-code even more.

Phase 4: Making sense

The goal more and more people tend to have these days, is semantically useful webcontent. While you could, for example, use the bold-tag and the center-tag to make a nice looking heading, you really shouldn't. It's the h-tags' work which can be styled with css, if you want to.

But there's more to that. Did you know these tags, for example?

for addresses, signatures, etc.
dl, dt and dd
for definition lists as this
they exist since the very first release of Nexus! And there are a whole lot of already defined tags, which you should use the right way so you can style them beautifully.

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