Revisiting the world of DHTML in 2024

Week 330 was posted by Charanjit Chana on 2024-02-19.

My first adventures with web development involved devouring DHTML books from the library and constantly browsing online for how these elements worked and interacted together. There was a good topic on DHTML from the past on HTML Hell over Christmas.

The good and the bad

Looking back through the article, there are certain bits I kind of wish had stuck around.

I miss <center>

Despite my love of CSS and abstracting out the presentation, the center element was one that just made positioning so easy. Given we often center align items, it would be useful to have... easy to replicate with a class and a line of CSS but maybe if it had been relegated to being an attribute rather than an element, that could have been a happy medium. There's also the situation where you want vertical alignment that's missing, but when I first started out this was an element I made plenty of use of!

Image maps were cool

It's still possible to work with image maps but it feels like they died with DHTML.

<frameset> broke it down

I loved framesets. Not perfect, but they got us to a better place with organising layouts. You can achieve it all with CSS now but the small bit of abstraction was useful. That abstraction now comes in the form of front-end frameworks which are more complicated.

The awful <font> tag

I do not miss font tags at all. The bane of my life in the early days and a continuing nightmare when it comes to email templates. Burn it with fire!


jQuery changed the game and played a big part in plugging a gap. It pushed web development along at the same time as HTML5 took hold of markup and CSS was on the rise.

The reality is that I have a lot of nostalgia for DHTML but no real need. There's nothing I can't achieve with modern tools (even without a framework) and that's a great place to be.

Tags: html

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