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Niels Matthijs spends his spare time combining his luxury life with the agonizing pressure of blogging under his Onderhond moniker. As a front-end developer he is raised at Internet Architects, investing plenty of time in making the web a more accessible and pleasant place.
A few weeks ago, I dug up an old article that I wrote for Smashing Magazine, “When One Word Is More Meaningful Than a Thousand.” While I stand firmly behind all of the HTML development principles I listed back then, the article lacked one important thing: hands-on examples.
Sure enough, the theory behind component-based HTML is interesting in its own right, but without a few illustrative examples, it’s all very dry and abstract. Not that HTML enthusiasts should shy away from that (on the contrary, I would say), but there’s nothing like a good example to clear up some of the finer points of a concept.
I’m pretty confident that I won’t surprise anyone here by saying that CSS sprites have been around for quite a while now, rearing their somewhat controversial heads in the Web development sphere as early as 2003.
Still, the CSS sprite hasn’t truly found its way into the everyday toolkit of the common Web developer. While the theory behind CSS sprites is easy enough and its advantages are clear, they still prove to be too bothersome to implement, especially when time is short and deadlines are looming. Barriers exist to be breached, though, and we’re not going to let a couple of tiny bumps in the road spoil the greater perks of the CSS sprite.
You may be wondering why you're reading about the good old semantics on Smashing Magazine. Why doesn't this article deal with HTML5 or another fancy new language: anything but plain, clear, tired old semantics. You may even find the subject boring, being a devoted front-end developer. You don't need a lecture on semantics. You've done a good job keeping up with the Web these last 10 years, and you know pretty much all there is to know.
People looking for bananas might think twice before buying these.
I'm writing about HTML semantics because I've noticed that semantic values are often handled sloppily and are sometimes neglected, even today. A huge void remains in semantic consistency and clarity, begging to be filled. We need better and more consistent naming conventions and smarter ways to construct HTML templates, to give us more consistent, clearer and readable HTML code. If that doesn't sound like paradise, I don't know what does.