The Current State of HTML.

At the moment HTML is at a crossroads. This is due to the rapid increase in the size of the WWW, closely followed by the speed at which marketing works versis the seemingly slow movement of Standardisation bodies. Six months ago Netscape's Navigator was the de facto standard for all HTML code. What they incorperated as an 'Netscape Extensions to HTML2.0' and 'Netscape Extensions to HTML3.0' other smaller companies also incorperated in their browers. By the time the WC3 created the new standards, and since most people were already supporting the Netscape Extensions it logically followed that they become 'official'. This all came to a sudden halt earlier this year when Microsoft released their own browser, (Internet Explorer) and with it they had Microsoft extentions to HTML2.0.

While Netscape wasn't the only company to extend HTML, up until this there hadn't been much overlap..... but suddenly both Microsoft & Netscape created their own (conflicting) add-ons. This is a tad cahotic as they both have huge market-shares (Netscape by being there longer & with a better product IMHO, Microsoft because they gave away the Internet Explorer with '95 and NT.

Since both parties want their browser to be 'better' than the other, they both accept HTML tags ment for the other, leading to terrible confusion.. hopefully it will be resolved with the better tag winning, rather than the better Marketing... (ref VHS v's BetaMax)

So how does an idea get translated into a standard? Well it has to go through the W3C Recommendation Process. which basically means that a consensus has been reached among members that the specification is appropriate for use.

What happened to HTML 3.0?

HTML 3.0 was a proposal for extending HTML published in March 1995. The Arena browser was a testbed implementation, and a few other experimental implementations have been developed (see: the Yahoo list of browsers, including UdiWWW, Emacs-W3, etc.).

However, the difference between HTML 2.0 and HTML 3.0 was so large that standardization and deployment of the whole proposal proved unwieldy. The HTML 3.0 draft has expired, and is not being maintained. So there is a new standard HTML3.2.

So what's new in HTML 3.2?

Relative to HTML 2.0, HTML 3.2 adds widely deployed features such as:

The complete HTML3.2 reference page.

Problems with HTML

This is covered elsewhere, but due to the different browser manufacturers creating their own standards some web pages are written with only one browser in mind (through ignorance or design) which leads to confusion. Here are the Ten Commandments of HTML design which is a nice guide to writing good HTML. And another Guide to good HTML.