As website owners and webmasters it would be our responsibility to refresh the source code (that is the html code) of our website periodically. This would be to ensure that the code is clean and tidy at all times, and corruptions that may have crept in due to updates to the various webpages of our website are removed.
This would be done with a view to enable the continued fast loading of our website when searched for on the internet and also to ensure that the website would remain in good standing with the search engines and our website's ranking therein. This would be compulsorily a periodic ritual, if WYSIWYG web design software like Adobe Dreamweaver, Microsoft FrontPage or Microsoft Expression Web 2 amongst others have been utilized towards creating the website in the first place.
On some occasions, it is these very software that clutter up the source code of our website; and as prevention is better than cure, it would be prudent on our part to check and clean up the source code of our website from time to time.
In the earlier stages of the internet's development, the source code of the websites would require the application of html with tags for all specifications towards the creation and maintenance of the website. For instance 'p' would be for the paragraph and the specifications in its regard while 'font' would include the specifications towards the text style including color. This in more recent times evolved into the Cascading Style Sheet which allowed a separation of the coding and formatting of the website and webpages from its content. The Cascading Style Sheet could either be applied through the 'head' section of the source code of a website or through the linking of the website to a separate Cascading Style Sheet file. With the advent of the Cascading Style Sheet as a separate file on the server, it enabled the same source code to be applied to multiple webpages through the link reference stated in the head section of the website and webpage itself.
This also ensured that fewer characters on the website or webpage itself resulting in a faster page load time. This of course, would require a cleaning up of the code from time to time to ensure that the page loading efficiencies of the website are maintained at optimum levels. To reinforce this, it would be a good idea to firstly apply the simplest code available. Secondly as nesting of the code is acceptable, this too should be applied suitably. And lastly, it would be reasonable to apply Cascading Style Sheets wherever suitable. The Cascading Style Sheets have several advantages with the advent of external CSS files; which would by extension reduce the page size of the website or webpage. And best of all, it would make it relatively easier for you to edit/modify/update the content of your website with respect to the content on its various webpages; and also efficiently update/modify the code and format of your website on a site wide basis through a simple modification or editing of the external Cascading Style Sheet.
It was in the year 2000 that the new code standard XHTML was introduced, requiring all opening tags to be compulsorily closed. A shift did occur to this new standard, but not by a large margin as the World Wide Web continued to support the earlier HTML code. Further, not many website owners and webmasters took on the task of updating the source code of their websites to this new standard; as they preferred to continue applying the old and familiar codes, techniques and methods.
It is expected that in the future it would probably become mandatory to conform to the XHTML standards for electronic devices to interpret the website code correctly. So, with the passage of time the website owners and webmasters would be required to have a better understanding of the standards and proper implementation of XHTML.
The benefits of XHTML would revolve around its strict nature; with the benefit of the creation of valid and error free XHTML documents; that is websites and webpages. Further, the browsers would find it easier to parse them. The second benefit would be that it would make the website light and efficient; and with the inclusion of the Cascading Style Sheet applied externally it would remove all code and format from the XHTML document itself, leaving on it only the content.
The difficulty faced by most website owners and webmasters is with replacing the 'table' tag of HTML with the 'div' tag of XHTML which are applied to define content areas on a website. This is also known as CSS Positioning. Further, XHTML standard require the declaration of a DOCTYPE definition at the top of all documents; which would force a browser like Internet Explorer or Firefox to shift from quirky mode to the standards compliant mode, thereby improving the browser rendering.
A cleaner and more efficient source code would make the operation of a website more cost effective; saving transfer usage cost associated with high traffic websites. This improved efficiency of the website also makes it easier for the search engines to find it, parse it and index it; which would be an improvement in the search engine optimization of the website.
The current standard set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is XHTML and would in the future evolve into XHTML 2.0. It stands to reason that the website owners and webmasters implement XHTML to be in step with the changing times. It may be a daunting task to start with, but the benefits of compliance far outweigh the short period of inconvenience while the source code of their websites are brought in line with the standards.
It would be fair to mention as a closing note that the World Wide Web consortium (also called W3C) in association with others is at the final stages of introducing new source code standards through html5 and css3. It would seem that there is still some work left to be completed with regard to these new standards before they are launched. Many tags of some importance of earlier times have either been replaced with new ones or have been deprecated due to their irrelevance with reference to the new standard. But, it would be safe to expect that websites source coded in XHTML 1.0 strict and HTML 4.0 strict would continue to function with efficiency; while being closest to a shift to the new standards. This would in fact not require the launch of XHTML 2.0 mentioned above.
A personal note: Over the years I have had occasion to buy and read books on matters of website design and source code; and indeed have a substantial collection of books on the subject. So, in a sense I am able to tell the program what I want it to do; instead of the program telling me what to do. Of course, periodically I do make it a point to check the source code and remove irrelevant code which may have crept in while editing the content.
It would be fair to say that, I learn new things every day. This would be so because the world wide web is at the cutting edge and one amongst a few new things that have happened in recent times.