The History of HTML

March 19th, 2010, 8:46 am PDT by Greg

After a simple query from a colleague about the differences between HTML versions, I wrote this. I thought I might as well post it. Everything was from-memory, so there may be some minor errors.

HTML 1 never existed (it was the informal “standard” that the first documentation implied).

HTML 2 was a really minimal initial description of the language. The language was simple because the initial goals were simple. The browser makers made many de facto extensions to this by implementing random stuff.

HTML 3 was an abandoned attempt to standardize everything and the kitchen sink. HTML 3.2 was a really ugly standard that was basically “here’s what browsers accept today.”

Which brings us to modern history…

HTML 4 was an attempt to clean up the language: get rid of the visual stuff and make HTML a semantic markup language again. It included the transitional version (with most of the old ugly stuff) and strict version (as things should be).

HTML 4.01 was a minor change: missed errors and typos.

XHTML 1.0 is HTML 4.01 but with XML syntax: closing empty tags with the slash, everything lowercase, attribute values quotes, etc.

XHTML 1.1 contains some minor changes, but was abandoned in a practical sense because nobody saw any point to the change. XHTML 2.0 was another very ambitious change (non-backwards compatible changes to the language) that was abandoned.

HTML 5 is in-progress of being standardized now. If you ask me, there are two camps driving it. One who thinks “the web is more about more than just simple web pages now: applications and interactivity rule the day” and another who thinks “closing our tags is too hard; I don’t understand what a doctype is: make it easier. Dur.”

As a result, there are some things I like and some things I don’t. I is showing signs of something that will actually be completed and used (unlike HTML 3 and XHTML 2).

Most people don’t know that the HTML 5 standard includes an XHTML version as well. It will be perfectly legal to write HTML 5 with the XML syntax and call it “XHTML 5”.

Addendum: The moral of the story is that I have no intention of teaching HTML 5 anywhere until the standards process is done. For 165 I also need real browser support: no JS/DOM hack to get IE to work, and some defaults in the system stylesheet to let the thing display reasonably without any CSS applied. Even then I will probably teach XHTML 5 because I think it promotes the right habits.

Olympic Summary

March 1st, 2010, 3:24 pm PST by Greg

I have avoided blogging throughout the Olympics because I just couldn’t figure out what to say. I still don’t know, but feel like I should write something. I have collected my Olympic pictures and will link as appropriate. (I have some pictures from last night that aren’t in there yet: give me a few hours.)

Here are my highlights…

Things we did

  • On the 16th, I slept in and Kat got up early to do the zipline. I wandered downtown at my leisure and sat down to watch the curling game (Martin v Norway) in Robson Square, right under the zipline tower. In the span of three minutes, Kelly zipped, Martin won the game, and Kat and Pam zipped.

    There are pictures from the zipline. Be sure to notice the movies Kat took.

  • Later that day, we went to the Mint pavilion. As much as I can’t believe I’m saying it, it was totally worth waiting for three hours.

    The Olympic medals are fundamentally just a pound of metal, but they just feel different: special and important. We don’t have many pictures from that because I mostly spent my time rolling the thing around in my hand and staring at it.

  • On the second day of the Colbert report, we went around behind the stage (based on Kat’s discovery the day before). Everybody who went on or off the stage walked within 10 feet of where we were. Pam got a signed picture.
  • Nico and Allison came to visit for a couple of days, which was great. We ran into Meredith Vieira from the View. That was exciting once Kat and Allison explained to Nico and I who that was. Also, we made pretzels.
  • We saw two women’s curling matches: the semi-finals (Canada over Switzerland and China over Sweden) and the bronze medal match (China over Switzerland). So, we saw the Chinese women win the bronze: they were obviously very excited and I got some good pictures of them celebrating (thanks to the Chinese photographer who called them over to our side of of the rink).

The Games

  • Jon Montgomery’s triumphant march through Whistler. I think this is my favourite moment of the games because it’s obvious to me that he would have done the same thing if he had come in 2nd or 6th. There might not have been a camera crew, and one of his friends would have gotten him a beer instead of some random girl handing him a pitcher, but he would have been there either way.
  • Marianne St-Gelais’ reaction to Charles Hamelin’s 500m gold. I particularly like it when she lost the coordination to jump up and down and switched to running in place.
  • Scott Moir: “We’re second… no just kidding: first!”
  • Kevin Martin’s curling gold and Cheryl Bernard’s ulcer-inducing silver.

    Kevin Martin’s dominance in this sport really cannot be overstated. If we count the biggest competitions in the sport in the last year (Brier, Canadian Olympic qualifiers, World Championships, and Olympics), Martin has lost 3 games out of 40. In a sport where a couple of missed shots can swing the game in your opponent’s favour, that’s stunning.

  • William-goddamn-Shatner in the closing ceremonies. “I’m Bill and I’m proud to be Canadian”. Really, is there anyone more full of awesome than Shatner?

I will point out that my top two there (Montgomery and St-Gelais) were the result of CTV putting a camera pointing in just the right (non-obvious) direction at the right moment. Kudos to them on solidly good coverage.