HTML Getting Displaced by CSS

By Deane Barker on September 18, 2003

the business value of web standards: This is a good article about how to write good, solid HTML, and the author hits on something I discovered as well when re-assessing how to teach HTML for The Joshua Project.

“For years, the standards community has been extolling the virtues of keeping visual design separate from content, but logically linked to each page. This means your HTML becomes ridiculously simple. Most XHTML pages are little more than a collection of semantically rich DIV and P tags, with a pointer to a powerful CSS file.”

As I mentioned in a prior post, the number of HTML tags you really need is getting smaller and smaller. I identified, I think, six that you can’t live without, and the simple fact is that you could make an entire page with nothing but a bunch of DIV tags and a good stylesheet.

Take a look at this page. The listing of properties is done without a TABLE — it’s purely a set of nested, floated DIVs. It looks great, and was actually easier to build and understand than its alternative: a TABLE with scads of ROWSPAN and COLSPAN arguments. (Trust me, I tried both methods.)

In teaching The Joshua Project, I find I’m devoting twice as much time to CSS than I am to HTML.