A minimal html document site point

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A minimal html document site point

  1. 1. 1/28/13 A Minimal HTML Document - SitePointwww.sitepoint.com/a-minimal-html-document/ 1/4sitepoint.com http://www.sitepoint.com/a-minimal-html-document/A Minimal HTML DocumentI am often surprised by just how many professionally-designed sites are delivered in the form ofincomplete HTML documents. To be fair, however, the amount of code required for even an empty HTMLdocument has grown significantly over the years.One upon a time, an HTML document only had to contain a <!DOCTYPE>declaration and a <title>tag. From theHTML 3.2 recommendation:In practice, the HTML, HEAD and BODY start and end tags can be omitted from the markup […]Every HTML 3.2 document must also include the descriptive title element. A minimal HTML 3.2document thus looks like:<!DOCTYPEHTMLPUBLIC"-//W3C//DTDHTML3.2Final//EN"><TITLE>Astudyofpopulationdynamics</TITLE>At the time HTML 3.2 was the recommended spec, very few web designers bothered with a <!DOCTYPE>, or withvalid code at all, so in practice an HTML document could be any text file containing any combination of text andHTML tags.These days, the needs of accessibility, search engine optimization, document consistency for JavaScriptmanipulation, and support for international characters all combine to require more of our HTML. The minimal HTMLdocument has gotten a lot bigger.Here’s the very minimum that an HTML 4 document should contain, assuming it has CSS and JavaScript linked to it:<!DOCTYPEhtmlPUBLIC"-//W3C//DTDHTML4.01//EN""http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd"><htmllang="en"><head><metahttp-equiv="content-type"content="text/html;charset=utf-8"><title>title</title><linkrel="stylesheet"type="text/css"href="style.css"><scripttype="text/javascript"src="script.js"></script></head><body></body></html>If you want to be able to process your document as XML, then this minimal XHTML 1 document should be yourstarting point instead:
  2. 2. 1/28/13 A Minimal HTML Document - SitePointwww.sitepoint.com/a-minimal-html-document/ 2/4<!DOCTYPEhtmlPUBLIC"-//W3C//DTDXHTML1.0Strict//EN""http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"><htmlxmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"lang="en"xml:lang="en"><head><metahttp-equiv="content-type"content="text/html;charset=utf-8"/><title>title</title><linkrel="stylesheet"type="text/css"href="style.css"/><scripttype="text/javascript"src="script.js"></script></head><body></body></html>Read on below for a description of each line of these minimal documents.The BreakdownEvery (X)HTML document should start with a <!DOCTYPE>declaration that tells the browser what version of(X)HTML the document is written in. In practical terms, this tells browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox to usetheir most standards-compliant (and therefore cross-browser-compatible) rendering mode. The exact form of the<!DOCTYPE>declaration depends on whether your document is HTML 4 (fine for most purposes) or XHTML 1(enables the page to be processed as XML):<!DOCTYPEhtmlPUBLIC"-//W3C//DTDHTML4.01//EN""http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd"><!DOCTYPEhtmlPUBLIC"-//W3C//DTDXHTML1.0Strict//EN""http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">Next, we mark the start of the document with the opening <html>tag. This tag should should specify the primarylanguage for the document’s content, with the langattribute:<htmllang="en">In an XHTML document, you should also specify the document’s default XML namespace (using the xmlnsattribute)and re-specify the language using XML’s standard xml:langattribute:<htmlxmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"lang="en"xml:lang="en">Next comes the <head>tag, which starts the document header:<head>The first thing in the header should be a <meta>tag that specifies the character encoding of the page. Usually, thecharacter encoding is declared by the web server that sends the page to the browser, but many servers are notconfigured to send this information, and specifying it here ensures the document is displayed correctly even when itis loaded directly from disk, without consulting a server:<metahttp-equiv="content-type"content="text/html;charset=utf-8">
  3. 3. 1/28/13 A Minimal HTML Document - SitePointwww.sitepoint.com/a-minimal-html-document/ 3/4In an XHTML document, <meta>tags should end with a slash to indicate they are empty:<metahttp-equiv="content-type"content="text/html;charset=utf-8"/>With the encoding established, we can safely write the first piece of actual content in the page—the page title:<title>title</title>If you want to link a CSS file to the page to control its appearance (which you usually will), a <link>tag at this pointwill do the trick:<linkrel="stylesheet"type="text/css"href="style.css">Again, the XHTML version of this tag needs a trailing slash to indicate it is empty:<linkrel="stylesheet"type="text/css"href="style.css"/>If you want to link a JavaScript script to the page, and the script is designed to be invoked from the header, insert a<script>tag at this point. Whether the document is HTML or XHTML, you should include a full </script>closingtag for backwards compatibility:<scripttype="text/javascript"src="script.js"></script>That just about does it. You can end the header, then start the body of the page with a <body>tag. The content ofthe page is up to you, but since we’re talking about a minimal document, there need not be any body content at all:</head><body></body></html>So, how does your most recent work hold up? Have you included all the elements discussed above? Commonomissions like the langattribute and the content-type<meta>tag may seem unnecessary, but they really putthat final layer of polish that ensure your site holds up with the best on the Web.I’d love to hear your thoughts on the basic HTML elements discussed above, or any other elements you absolutelyalways include in your pages. Leave a comment and let me know!
  4. 4. 1/28/13 A Minimal HTML Document - SitePointwww.sitepoint.com/a-minimal-html-document/ 4/4Kevin YankKevin began developing for the Web in 1995 and is a highly respected technical author. Hewrote Build your own Database Driven Website using PHP and MySQL, a practical step-by-stepguide published by SitePoint, and hes co-author of the SitePoint Tech Times, a bi-weeklynewsletter for technically-minded web developers. Kev believes that any good webmaster shouldhave seen at least one episode of MacGyver.More Posts - WebsiteRelated PostsInsert in place without document.write4 Easy Ways To Spruce Up Your HTML MarkupThe Importance of the Hypertext Document TitleReview – HTML and XHTML, The Definitive GuideBeginners’ HTML – Part 1

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