How Do Developers Use HTML?

Jan 27, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Absolutely fascinating analysis of how HTML markup us used by developers, based on a Google study of roughly a billion web pages. Authors of metadata standards should look at these results (though they certainly should have observed these trends long before now, and yet, for some reason, don't take them into account). Perhaps the most telling - and characteristic - remark in the Google study comes in the discussion of the use of the body element: "One conclusion one can draw from the spread of attributes used on the body element is that authors don't care about what the specifications say. Of these top twenty attributes, nine are completely invalid, and five have been deprecated for nearly eight years, half the lifetime of the Web so far." Now we have to ask, when people don't care what the HTML standard says, why would they care what your standard says? A note on the graphics: the document uses SVG, which is in many cases not supported; they recommend using Firefox 1.5 if you want to see the images - of course, I am using Firefox 1.5 (on Linux) but the images are still blank. How hard would it have been to use the gif format instead?
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