The Internet is no longer limited to computer hardware and software. MSN TV enables you to access the Internet, giving you more reason to become a couch potato. Personal information managers and palmtop computers enable you to access the Internet while you're on the road. More and more people are accessing the Internet with mobile phones and other wireless devices. Special interfaces and hardware enable physically challenged individuals to access the Internet. As it has matured, the Internet has become an effective means of communication and education for the masses. Many of the newer portable technologies, however, pose problems for the old HTML specification. They simply don't have the processing power of a desktop computer, and aren't as forgiving of poorly written HTML as web browsers. The developers of the HTML specification have struggled to accommodate these ongoing changes, and the limitations of HTML have become evident. We're stretching and distorting the HTML specification far beyond its capabilities. The future of the Internet demands a markup language that's more extensible and portable than HTML. The direction is heading toward the use of XML (short for Extensible Markup Language), a subset of SGML that allows for custom tags to be processed. And that's where XHTML 1.0 comes into play.
XHTML 1.0 is written in XML, and is the current standard that will help web designers prepare for the future. Documents written in XHTML can be viewed on current browsers, but at the same time they're valid XML documents. The purpose of this book is not only to teach you HTML 4.01, but also to teach you how to format your HTML so that it's compliant with the XHTML 1.0 specification.
Technically, XHTML 1.0 and HTML 4.01 are very similar. The tags and attributes are virtually the same, but a few simple rules have to be followed in order to make sure that a document is compliant with the XHTML 1.0 specification. Throughout this book, I'll explain how to deal with the different HTML tags to make sure that your pages are readable and still look good in all kinds of browsers.