Jens Oliver Meiert

On HTML (and HTML in 2020)

Post from November 10, 2020, filed under .

HTML is awesome. If I were to call out three important facts and aspects of HTML I’d pick the following:

  1. Hyperlinks, a elements, undiluted anchors without rel=nofollow and without new-window nonsense are what makes for the World Wide Web. You here know that, but not everyone is that aware.

  2. HTML, as a technology, has not nearly been exhausted yet in terms of the semantic wealth that it offers, nor when it comes to its technical optimization potential.

  3. Writing good HTML makes not only for a superb craft that you cannot just put on your CV without studying and practicing; it really is what allows us to make the vision for the Web a reality: to make information accessible to everyone.

Where are we on those fronts?

That’s something that the now-yearly Web Almanac helps to answer; and something I’m very happy to have worked on answering in this year’s HTML chapter, with support by Catalin Rosu and Ian Devlin: Part I, Chapter 3: Markup.

  1. Since the beginning of time, a elements have been among the most popular, most commonly used HTML elements. In 2020, they are trailing only div elements: The 6,347,919 mobile pages we analyzed for the Almanac use 844,580,132 anchors. The probability that a document contains an a element is likewise very high: It’s at 98.32%.

  2. HTML has 112 elements. The median web page uses 30. The 90th percentile, 41. You don’t need to, you can’t even use all HTML elements. Yet it’s likely that we observe quite a one-sided use of HTML; consider just the extreme popularity of div and span elements. HTML is not nearly being exhausted yet.

  3. When you then look at not only what markup is being used (those custom elements, those obsolete elements, those proprietary and invented elements) and how that markup is being used (from h7 and h8 headings to the specific use of details and summary), and then note how many pages are (of course!) invalid when they’re ever validated (79%), then… then we’re not left with much of a craft, then, after decades, we haven’t quite made much of the vision yet.

Enjoy the full report, and keep pushing on your use of HTML. (If you’re interested, I write much about HTML, including publishing a little book series about small things to improve HTML code.)

About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on April 29, 2020.

I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m a web developer and author. I love trying things (sometimes involving philosophy, art, or adventure). Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.

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Have a look at the most popular posts, possibly including:

Cover: CSS Optimization Basics.

Perhaps my most relevant book: CSS Optimization Basics (2018). Writing CSS is a craft. As craftspeople we strive to write high quality CSS. In CSS Optimization Basics I lay out some of the most important aspects of such CSS. (Also available in a bundle with Upgrade Your HTML and The Web Development Glossary.)

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Last update: November 10, 2020

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