Dynamic HTML

DHTML is the combination of several built-in browser features in fourth generation browsers that enable a web page to be more dynamic. "Dynamic" is defined as the ability of the browser to alter a web page's look and style after the document has loaded.

Dynamic HTML or DHTML
is a collection of technologies that web developers use to create web pages that are updated on demand. In a DHTML web page, fonts, element positions, and graphics can change as you look at them in the browser. Dynamic HTML makes your Web documents more interactive. In DHTML, the content might also contain instructions for how changes should take place in the presentation of the web page. Dynamic HTML occurs on the client-side. It doesn't involve reconnecting to the server for more information.

Dynamic HTML is used in conjunction with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Using coordinate positioning available in CSS, a web developer can place HTML elements in specific locations on a page. The HTML elements positioned this way can move according to a script written in either ActiveX using VBScript or JavaScript. This positioning can occur not only on the x-y plane of the web page, but also in the z direction, thereby giving the illusion of depth or the stacking of one element on top of another.

There are differences in how Microsoft and Netscape implement DHTML.

Netscape has a proprietary element called LAYER to deal with z-positioning. DHTML in NS 4 is quite simple, and comes down to essentially one word - Layer. NS 4 relies completely on a new tag, called the <layer> tag, to spin up its DHTML magic. This new tag is dynamic in that it can be xpositioned anywhere on a web page (without relation to other content), moved around, its content inside updated on demand, and more.

Microsoft agrees to the non-proprietary position of the W3C. DHTML in IE does not rely on any one tag, but rather, new objects and properties that stem out of the usual HTML tags you're used to working with, such as <div> and <table>. It is more powerful, but at the same time more complicated to grasp.

HTML elements in IE 4 now all support a style object, which is essentially the "dynamic" object used to manipulate the look and feel of that element. Like the <layer>tag, elements can also be assigned an "id" attribute, which can then be used to identify it during scripting. For example:

Dynamic HTML relates to the W3C's broader efforts to create an interface called the Document Object Model (DOM). The aim of DOM is to allow programmers to dynamically update the content, structure, and style of documents.

The promise of DHTML is dynamic interaction between the user and a web page. Java makes this same claim, but web pages using DHTML techniques are less memory intensive and faster than current Java implementations. This dynamism can give the user a richer experience on the internet. The potential is there for web pages that more seamlessly invite and support user interaction.

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