HTML vs. XHTML: Understanding the Key Differences

Have you ever been puzzled by the differences between HTML and XHTML? Is it possible to bridge the gap between their features? And how can you best understand the differing web standards? These questions and more will be addressed in the article “HTML vs. XHTML: Understanding the Key Differences”.

The divergence between HTML and XHTML results from the divergence of web development, which generally falls into two categories: static websites and dynamic web applications. Static sites are mostly coded in HTML using one-time coding in order to display content – they do not include any additional features. Conversely, dynamic applications are coded using languages such as PHP, Ruby, and Python, with their core database allowing for the incorporation of various features. In other words, HTML is the perfect choice for static web pages, while XHTML provides a great platform for dynamic applications.

In this article, you will learn about the common features of HTML and XHTML, their differences, and the advantages and disadvantages of using each of them. Moreover, you will get an insight into the importance and the best practices of web standards, as well as trends and the evolution of web development.

HTML vs. XHTML: Understanding the Key Differences


HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is a language for displaying information on websites. It is also used to create and structure documents by defining the structure and layout of content. HTML enables the user to easily create complex web pages with a variety of text-based elements. XHTML (Extensible HyperText Markup Language) is a markup language based on HTML which is an application of XML (Extensible Markup Language). XHTML was created to make HTML more consistent and extensible.

Below, you can find a brief overview of the key differences between HTML and XHTML:

HTML is platform-independent, which means it can be used on both desktop and mobile devices. XHTML is designed for mobile devices with limited resources and limited capabilities, meaning it can only be used on mobile devices.
HTML has a less strict syntax when compared to XHTML. XHTML is more rigid and requires strict adherence to its syntax rules.
Support for Text-Based elements:
HTML has greater support for text-based elements such as lists, tables, images, and forms. XHTML does not support such elements.
Structural Tags:
HTML does not have any specific structural tags that are required for proper formatting. XHTML, on the other hand, has structural tags like , , and

Browser Compatibility:
HTML is more widely compatible with web browsers, while XHTML is not as widely supported.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
HTML has an advantage when it comes to SEO since it is more widely supported. XHTML is typically not recognized by search engines and therefore can reduce the SEO rankings of a page.
XHTML is more extensible and extensible elements can be added to the language with ease. HTML, on the other hand, is limited in its extensibility.

Comparing the Specifications of HTML and XHTML

Once upon a time, two webs of world wide web roamed the digital landscape. They were HTML and XHTML, proud yet compete peers, competitors that shared much in common but still withstood each other’s prowess in a never ending battle for supremacy. HTML, the old standard still going strong, is a familiar name to most of us by now. But XHTML — short for ‘Extensible Hyper Text Markup Language’ — is still contested between tech experts trying to decide its place in the digital world. Let’s break down and compare their unique specifications and learn what makes them stand out from one another:

Differences in Syntax

The primary difference between the two lies in their syntax. For HTML, the syntax requirements aren’t that stringent; it’s quite easy to write code that won’t be filtered out in the validation process. But XHTML requires stricter syntax than HTML. Specifically, all tags must be closed, attribute values should be within quotation marks, and tags must appear in lowercase.

Usage of Attributes

Another difference arises in how both languages use attributes. In HTML a number of attributes are ‘optional’ and don’t require quotation marks. But in XHTML, all attributes — even optional ones — need to have quotation marks.

  • HTML allows multiple attributes without value.
  • XHTML requires all attributes to have an accompanying value.
  • HTML doesn’t require attributes to be in quotation marks.
  • XHTML makes all attributes mandatory within quotation marks.

Furthermore, XHTML requires that all attributes must be defined within the start tag of an element whereas HTML accepts attributes, even in the end tag. A prominent example would be the ‘checked’ attribute for checkboxes and radio buttons which is largely accepted in HTML.

Document Structure

Lastly, document structure in both languages is also very distinct. While HTML allows elements to appear almost anywhere in a document, XHTML requires elements to appear in a certain order. This makes the documents written in XHTML more easily understandable which is why professional developers prefer XHTML despite its harsher syntax requirements.
So, although HTML and XHTML share certain similarities in common, the subtle but distinct differences between them can ensure you the perfect code for your site. A choice between the two comes down to what you expect from your code — flexibility from HTML or a cleaner, more structured document from XHTML. Because, after all, there’s no definite answer to which one’s better — it just depends on what you need.

Exploring the Advantages and Disadvantages of HTML and XHTML

HTML – Hypertext Markup Language

We all know that ‘Content is KING’ and HTML language has been its loyal servant since its inception in the early 90s. From the signature blue hyperlinks to the now fashionable menu, HTML has made content so accessible that it has become talk of the town for most web developers. But is it the end of the road for HTML? Has XHTML been able to take its place?
Like many things in life, there are both pros and cons to each language and the real quandary lies in understanding the differences between the two and then using the right language for the right task. So, let’s begin exploring the advantages and disadvantages of both HTML and XHTML to help make an informed decision.

Advantages of HTML

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language and is the backbone of almost all the websites we use daily. It is fairly easy to learn as compared to the more complex XHTML and supported by almost all browsers. There is also the flexibility that HTML offers in terms of the range of features it brings to the table like styling of texts, embedding of images and other multimedia elements let it be video or audio.
What more do you ask for? How about the fact that HTML can be used to create dynamic web pages with JavaScript or PHP, without unnecessary long-winding scripts? This makes it simpler to grasp, faster to debug and easier to deploy for both novice and experienced developers alike.

Disadvantages of HTML

Unfortunately, HTML fails miserably when it comes to syntax validation and can return unreliable results when used with certain browsers. Also, as HTML was originally meant as a static web-page generator, when it comes to a larger context like creating data-oriented applications, it’s easy to find yourself walking around in circles trying to make a dynamic web-page using HTML.
That said, HTML also has missing key features when it comes to maintaining web standardization, which is essential for a website or application to remain compatible across all platforms and user agents. This is where XHTML steps in and makes things easier.

Advantages of XHTML

XHTML, short for Extensible Hypertext Markup Language, is one of the successors of HTML that was created to include the features missing in HTML and to regulate standards on integrating multimedia elements and structured documents. XHTML is already built on XML and so carries inheritances from existing XML structure that come with powerful data processing capabilities.
Developers can use the larger pool of tags available at their disposal with XHTML making it easy to create highly structured applications with XML support. A lighter and more condensed code structure than traditional HTML also means more reliable XML document support.

Disadvantages of XHTML

XHTML development requires that of a higher level of web coding skills than HTML as the language itself is more complex. This added complexity also brings along with it compatibility and browser rendering issues. This means that depending on the size and work-flow of your project you might have to bear with XHTMLs shortcoming, like debugging or browser testing, for the uniformity of the same components across multiple platforms.
So, in conclusion, HTML and XHTML both have their advantages and disadvantages, and the ultimate decision to use either language depends on the size, scope, and complexity of the application. Thought-provoking as it may sound, do we really need both HTML and XHTML? On one hand HTML is like a powerful and trusted work-horse whose limitations can easily be overcome with a sprinkle of creativity, while XHTML offers a never-ending array of powerful coding techniques, reliable standards, and long-term application scalability.

Examining the Growing Popularity of XHTML Over HTML

Rocking the World of Web Development

For many years, HTML (HyperText Markup Language) has been the most widely-used language for developing webpages. Year after year, millions of websites were built with the help of HTML, and in turn, its popularity skyrocketed. But little did we know that a new platform was gearing up, ready to revolutionize web development – XHTML (Extensible HyperText Markup Language).
So, what’s the difference between HTML and XHTML? Though these two languages appear similar in the eyes of the casual web developer, they are actually vastly different. HTML is a markup language that works with no fixed set of rules. On the other hand, XHTML is created with strict rules for the browser to follow and is based off of XML (Extensible Markup Language).

XHTML’s Edge Over HTML

The jump to XHTML brings a world of advantages. Having a defined set of rules means that webpages will be significantly easier to read. Furthermore, programs such as search engines will also be able to interpret the data. This allows them to get a better understanding of a page’s content, giving more accurate information to users and improving website performance as a whole.
Apart from this, XHTML allows developers to make their code as efficient as possible. This means that the page can be loaded far quicker than with HTML as a result of the smaller file size. Additionally, developers can create multiple pages from a single document due to XHTML’s modular nature.
But, XHTML isn’t only beneficial to developers – the end user can benefit from XHTML too. As mentioned, XHTML makes it easier to read a page’s code, which allows browsers to render the page almost immediately onto the screen. This means that webpages will be rendered a lot quicker, making for a much smoother experience when switching from page to page.
Smarter devices such as smart phones and tablets are now beginning to support XHTML as well, so, being able to code in XHTML allows developers to build webpages that also work on devices such as these. On the other hand, HTML is becoming increasingly harder to view on certain devices due to its lack of support.

Is It Time To Make the Switch?

It’s clear that XHTML brings a number of advantages over HTML that could help to revolutionize web development as we know it. But the big question is – is it time to make the switch?
As technology begins to progress, users increasingly expect to have a faster and smoother experience when navigating between webpages, and with XHTML’s ability to render webpages more efficiently, it could be the perfect choice for developers looking to create vibrant user experiences.
Therefore, with the rise of smarter devices, along with its easy-to-read code and more efficient loading times, it would seem that XHTML is, for all intents and purposes, the way of the future when it comes to web development.


As more and more websites move to the digital age, it’s important to understand the differences between HTML and XHTML. With new technologies constantly emerging, it can be difficult to keep track of what will work on your site and what will break it. So, how should we decide which of these standards will be best for our website? Is there any way to know which is better for a given situation? This is a thought-provoking question that only experience and research can answer.
The traditional HTML protocol, developed in the late 1990s, is the most implemented web standard. While XHTML, which has been around since the early 2000s, has aimed to be a stricter version of HTML. It enforces many of the same rules as HTML but also adheres to the rules of XML. Both standards can provide additional features, such as multimedia, to help make your website more attractive to viewers.
For those trying to keep up with changes to HTML and XHTML standards, there are many resources online. HTML and XHTML blogs are a great place to stay informed on the latest updates. Readers should be sure to follow these blogs and stay tuned for new releases. Additionally, it is important to consult knowledgeable developers and web designers when making decisions about your website. Together, these resources can help you ensure your site is using the best format for the job.


What is HTML?
HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It is a programming language used to create websites that are displayed in web browsers. HTML consists of elements that define the structure and content of a webpage.
What is XHTML?
XHTML stands for Extensible Hypertext Markup Language. It is a variation of HTML that adheres to stricter rules and XML standards. It is more widely used and supported than HTML.
What are the key differences between HTML and XHTML?
The key differences between HTML and XHTML are the syntax and code structure. XHTML requires the tags to be nested properly and written in lowercase, while HTML allows tags to be opened and closed in any order and using uppercase or lowercase.
What are the benefits of using XHTML?
The main benefits of using XHTML are that it is easier to debug and maintain, and it is more likely to work in both modern and older web browsers. It is also easier to learn for developers who are already familiar with XML.
Is HTML a deprecated language?
No, HTML is not a deprecated language, but the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommends that developers should use XHTML. XHTML is their preferred language for web development because it is more reliable and has a more consistent syntax.