Yesterday, I presented a self-authored session on HTML 5 and CSS 3. This presentation consisted of:
  • A brief history and overview of HTML
  • Specifying semantic meaning with HTML
  • A brief history of CSS
  • CSS 3 feature overview
  • HTML 5 feature overview

The last two topics took the form of a high-level summary of some of the more interesting additions and changes these two specifications bring to the table.

Throughout this presentation, I thought it was important to remind attendees of what I consider to be HTML's primary function: To provide semantic and relational structure and context to the data and other content we provide on websites or in web applications.

As engineers, we are always under pressure to deliver high-quality products in ever-shrinking time frames. This often leads us to ignore miss the opportunity to specify the semantic meaning of content and, instead, resort to using DIVs and SPANs for formatting and placement alone, not even taking care to give semantically meaningful names to CSS classes or element IDs. In my opinion, HTML 5 and CSS 3 work together to give developers and designers more options, flexibility and power to impose higher quality and more coherent semantic context to the HTML content we produce. I hope that this reminder will serve to encourage developers and designers to invest the extra effort to, where possible, choose more meaningful HTML tags than just DIVs and SPANs and to consider using more explicit and meaningful names for CSS classes and element IDs.

In short, I strongly believe that, as the Semantic Web evolves and more applications are developed which can harvest and use any semantic clues provided by properly structured and annotated HTML-based content, your investment will be paid back many times over.

I am gratified that this presentation was very well attended and was pleased that the feedback I received from attendees was very positive. I hope to author and present a follow-on session in the near future which will focus on the semantic web, microformats and other related topics.

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