HTML Tags: Past, Present, Proposed
© 2012, Martin Rinehart
This page was prepared for students learning from Professional HTML, Volume I of V in the Frontend Engineering series. It is most meaningful to persons currently using HTML who wish to see where HTML has been and, possibly, where it is going.
|HTML 11||HTML 22||HTML 3.23||HTML 4.014||HTML 55|
|<HP1>, ...<HP2>, ...1e||Note2e|
|<XMP >2o deprecated|
Pre-Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C)
- HTML 1 (1991) "HTML1" is a name for Tim Berners-Lee's original HTML. These tags are taken from a document titled "HTML Tags", no author shown but we assume it was written by Tim Berners-Lee (see the NEXTID tag).
IETF RFCs and W3C Recommendations
- HTML 2 (1995-97) "HTML 2" is a name for HTML as defined in Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request for Comments (RFC) number 1866 (1995-11-24), and supplemental RFCs 1867 (1995-11-25), 1942 (1996-05), 1980 (1996-08) and 2070 (1997-01). None of these became approved standards.
- HTML 3.2 (1997) Like HTML 2, HTML 3 did not become a standard. HTML 3.2 was the first formally approved, industry-wide HTML standard, a W3C "Recommendation." (1997-01-14).
- HTML 4.01 (1999) HTML 4.0 became a standard (1997-12-18) and was then updated (corrections and clarifications, not major changes) to become the last official standard, 4.01 (1999-12-24).
Present and Future
- HTML 5 The current Editor's Draft has reached the Last Call stage. Drafts of component standards (Microdata, Canvas, etc.) are similarly nearing Recommendation status. While not yet a Recommendation, the Editor's Draft has much of the impact of a formal Recommendation.
- WHATWG HTML The Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), proposes a continuous revision strategy that does not use version milestones. At present the Editor of the W3C HTML5 standard (Googler Ian Hickson) is also the Editor of the WHATWG standard so the potential differences are minimal and in the matter of tags, the proposed standards are nearly identical. For now, the term "HTML5" can be used to identify the tags in both standards.
P.S. (Jan. 2013) W3C and WHATWG split, mid-2012. Standards are now diverging, though differences are minor, so far. Slight differences have appeared in section numbering. Data here is from the pre-split versions.
1HTML Tags, circa 1991. http://www.w3.org/History/19921103-hypertext/hypertext/WWW/MarkUp/Tags.html, retrieved December 5, 2011.
Here shown alphabetically, the original order was
1aThe only tag with documented attributes,
<A> was shown with both
HREF, so it was both anchor and hyperlink. A
TYPE attribute was also suggested to allow registration of different document types with "the W3 team."
1bOriginally for the author's name and address. The example shown includes snail mail and telephone, but not email.
1cNoted "NOT CURRENTLY USED" this tag would later appear as
<DT> are unchanged through HTML5.
1eThe Highlighted Phrase tags were replaced by tags like
<ISINDEX> tag "informs the reader that the document is an index document" that supported keyword searches.
<LISTING> tag pair would become the
1hThe NEXTID tag was marked "obsolete" in the original TB-L spec. (HTML was originally written for the inventor's NeXT-brand computer.)
1iOriginally an open tag without a close,
<P> was like
<PLAINTEXT> tag told the computer parsing the document that it could stop parsing.
1kExample shows sample title suitable for document title (too long for browser tabs).
2"HTML 2" is:
- Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request for Comments (RFC) number 1866 (1995-11-24)—a full HTML 2.0 proposal called, somewhat loosely, "HTML 2.0" by later W3C documents. Tim Berners-Lee and Dan Connolly.
- IETF RFC 1867 (1995-11-25)—"Form-based File Upload", Nebel and Masinter.
- IETF RFC 1942 (1996-05)—"HTML Tables", Raggett.
- IETF RFC 1980 (1996-08)—"Client-Side Image Maps", Seidman.
- IETF RFC 2070 (1997-01)—"Internationalization", Yergeau et al.
HTML 2 introduced "Block Structuring Elements" (1866/5.5) and "Phrase Markup" (1866/5.7).
2aThe HTML1 Base Address concept is assigned the
<BODY> tags are introduced here.
<DFN> tag is mentioned (in 5.7.1) as "not part of this specification."
2dThe first full SGML doctype appears here.
<HPn> tags are not mentioned in HTML2. Numerous elements are provided which could make them obsolete.
<INPUT> tags original types were TEXT, PASSWORD, CHECKBOX, RADIO, IMAGE, HIDDEN, SUBMIT, RESET (1866/126.96.36.199 through 188.8.131.52). FILE was added with RFC 1867.
<LINK> tag is introduced as a general-purpose link to other documents. Style sheets are suggested as one possibility.
<LISTING> tag prohibits internal markup; requires 132-column width. Deprecated (use
2i"HTML documents should not contain
<P> tag now shown both with and without a closing tag.
<PLAINTEXT> tag is mentioned in a note which suggests that it is replaced by the
<PRE> tag added with 8-space tabs. Internal phrase markup permitted.
<U> tags are mentioned in a "NOTE", (1866/5.7.2).
<TABLE> tag, complete with its supporting cast (caption, tr, td, th, col, colgroup tags, and colspan and rowspan attributes) as introduced in RFC 1942 is almost unchanged today.
<XMP> tag (eXaMPle) is identical to
<LISTING> except that the width is 80 characters. Deprecated (use
3A decade and a half had elapsed since Berners-Lee's initial HTML implementation and documentation. It was past time, many thought, to have formal, interoperable web standards, which was the goal. "HTML 3.2 aims to capture recommended practice as of early '96." http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html32, Dave Raggett, retrieved December 5, 2011.
Elements are now "block" and "text level." "Phrase" elements are a subset of text level.
<A> tag is now split into two separate uses: anchors and hyperlinks.
3bA "Note" in 3.2 suggests that the
<S> tag from HTML 3.0 may replace the
<SCRIPT> tag was "reserved for future use with scripting languages." It was one of the
<STYLE> tag was "reserved for future use with style sheets."
<TITLE> "provides an advisory title which can be displayed in a user agent's window" (making it a good choice for browser tabs, as it is today).
4http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/, Editors Raggett et al, retrieved December 5, 2011.
<INPUT> element added the "button" type.
Elements have become "block-level" and "inline."
<APPLET> tag first appears in browsers in 1995, with Sun's Java language. It first appears in the standards here, where it is both introduced and deprecated.
4bCSS stylesheets were introduced as the preferred method of specifying presentation. Presentational tags and attributes were deprecated in favor of CSS equivalents.
<TFOOT> were part of RFC 1942 (here included in HTML2), were not part of the HTML 3.2 standard but were included in HTML4.
5http://dev.w3.org/html5/spec/Overview.html (2011-11-04). Editor Ian Hickson, retrieved December 5, 2011.
While HTML is case-insensitive, the previous standards specified all tags in
<UPPERCASE>. The HTML 5 standard uses
<lowercase>. Use of
<lowercase> is compatible with XHTML.
<input> element added these types:
<embed> elements are first mentioned here, as obsolete elements.
<A> tag is no longer used as an anchor (the
name attribute is gone), except that every element with an
id attribute may be used as an anchor.
5b Except as follows, tags specifically decalared "obsolete" in HTML 5 are noted here. Two exceptions: tags that previously were removed from the standards (example:
<NEXTID>) and tags that never were part of a standard (example:
<data> is defined in the WHATWG Living Standard but not in the W3C HTML5 standard. It may be used to provide separate human- and machine-readable values:
<s> are redefined in HTML 5.
<menu> defines a modern menu.
<s> is used to indicate text that is obsolete but not to be removed (such as an old, presumably higher, price). Use
<del> for text that should be removed.
Feedback: MartinRinehart at gmail dot com
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