DHTML is dead. Long live DOM Scripting.

Just in case I haven’t completely hammered the point home lately, I have a feeling that 2005 is going to see a big surge in the use of the Document Object Model with JavaScript.

We’ll start to see plenty of more resources for standards-based JavaScript which will definitely be a good thing. Right now, most of the resources out there are fairly outdated. A lot of people looking for scripting resources might try googling for DHTML. If they do, they’ll discover a lot of browser-based scripts dating back to the nineties.

Rather than trying to rehabilitate and redefine DHTML, I think it’s time we ditched the term entirely.

For a start, it sounds like another flavour of HTML. You’d be forgiven for assuming that DHTML had more to do with HTML or XHTML than JavaScript.

Secondly, just what the heck is DHTML supposed to mean anyway? It’s a buzzword coined by browser makers who wanted to get us using the latest technology. I’m sure that calling something “dynamic HTML” is very useful from a marketing perspective, but it’s fairly pointless as a description.

Just look at some of the definitions of DHTML floating around out there:

“The next generation of HTML, the language that specifies exactly how text and images will be displayed on a web page. Dynamic HTML, developed by Netscape and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is based entirely on industry-standard HTML and Java.”

Now that’s just plain wrong.

We need a term that doesn’t confuse. Something descriptive that doesn’t sound like an off-shoot of HTML.

I have a modest proposal. The Document Object Model is the glue that binds together (X)HTML, CSS and JavaScript so let’s give it the recognition it deserves. I propose that the technology formally known as DHTML henceforth be called…

DOM Scripting.

We could still use DHTML in its historical context to refer to old-school browser-based forked code of the late nineties. But seeing as we’re doing web development in a new, standards-based way, let’s use a new term to describe it. For example:

“I used to code DHTML but I find DOM Scripting so much easier.”

Take this meme. May it serve you well.

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