I have recently started looking into the new html specification (HTML5) and have noticed that benefits of this new specification include improved semantics and cleaner mark-up. Semantic HTML is a way of writing HTML that emphasizes the meaning of the encoded information over its presentation. Consider the following code snippet:
This would usually denote a small area of navigation that loosely regards a navigational class on a html page. The loose association to the navigation is because I had the sense to name the class “navigation”. Had I named the class “list” then this would have meant nothing to the reader of the mark-up. The <h2> tag relates to the <div> but is actually not part of the mark-up. HTML5 gives the ability to clean this mark-up and make it more semantic. the resulting code in HTML5 could be:
This code snippet actually lets the user see that the list of links are actually a small navigational element of the site. It will also relate the heading, Quick Links, to that small navigational element. There is another element, menu, that I will not talk about. It could be substituted for my use of <nav>
When I first started reading about HTML5 and how the semantics and cleanliness of the mark-up changed, it made be beg the question:
Is HTML5 the excuse to get front end developers to think about Clean Code?
I am a huge advocate of clean code. I expect my methods / classes and variables to have good naming conventions. I also expect the code to be short, concise and descriptive. I am a developer, not a designer. Design / front end development is usually my last port of call. therefore my mark-up and it’s structure usually suffer. this means that it can be poorly organised and when I test in different browsers, I sometimes have to shoehorn in fixes which results in my code being messy.
Html5 may not be a finished specification, but I for one will start to embrace it in my development. If there is an easy way for the front end mark-up to be as clean as business logic then I think we should all lobby the W3C to finalise the specification and get this new standard into place.