Anyone who says that HTML is dead, and that no-one really needs to teach it any more, is missing the point. HTML is as dead as C++ is. Why is it that programming languages, such as Java, Visual Basic and C++ are still so dominant, even with all the powerful graphics development tools? It's because that they give the developer the opportunity to refine the code, and make sure that everything is achieved as efficiently as possible. It also gives the programmer the opportunity to generate their own code, for their own software libraries. This makes the code reuseable, and this can often differentiate one product from another.
With HTML we now use graphical design packages, such as Dreamweave and FrontPage to design the main code, but when it comes to actually refining the code, it still requires some editing of the HTML code. The greatest use of HTML code is really in reuse. This has been a hot topic in software engineering for a few years, and is now becoming a key part of WWW development. With reuse WWW pages are designed with component parts, which can be shared with other sites. Any change of the referenced component will update all the refered pages.
A key to good WWW page design is consistancy across pages. Unfortunately my site is now growing too large to be able to properly manage the changes in layout between pages. Thus I need to develop schemes which make it easier for me to change content, and layout, at a single place, and it should be reflected across a number of referenced pages. A good example is the banner on the home page. This will appear in a number of pages, and if I want to make a small change, I've got to cut-and-paste the HTML code from one page to the next. Thus is very time consuming.
document.write("<div align='right'><a href='index.html'><img src='pics_home_top.gif' width='202' height='63' align='right' border='0'></a>");
document.write("<a href='site_map.html'><img src='test5.gif' width='60' height='64' border='0' alt='Site map' align='left'></a>");
document.write("<a href='http://www.billbuchanan.co.uk'><img src='test1.gif' width='60' height='64' border='0' alt='Access my domain' align='left'></a>");
document.write("<a href='http://www.soc.napier.ac.uk'><img src='test3.gif' width='60' height='64' border='0' alt='School of Computing' align='left'></a>");
document.write("<a href='http://www.napier.ac.uk'><img src='test4.gif' width='60' height='64' align='left' border='0' alt='Napier WWW server'></a>");
document.write("<embed width='100' height='50' src='shock/top_home.swf' bgcolor='#FFFFCC' align='right'>'");
This code can be put into the JS file (in this case top_main.js), and referenced as follows:
This gives the following:
It is actually easier to properly design pages, when you actually edit the code in isolation. So the next time that your lecturer tells you that you don't have to write HTML code, don't believe him/her! It also makes it easier to make fine changes to pages.
If you're interested, this is how is fits into the main page:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>
<!DOCTYPE questions SYSTEM">
<title>This is the first question</title>
<title>This is the second question</title>
<title>This is the third question</title>
<title>This is the forth question</title>
<title>This is the fifth question</title>
You can see that the format is similar to HTML, but all the tags are user defined. If you're interested, here the XML file, and the Flash integration (but you'll need the Flash 5 player for this, as Flash 4 doesn't support XML). Over the next few years we will see a great increase in the amount of package which will support XML, and many modelling languages will move towards this standard.