DHTML — A Bunk Term of the Past


by Kenny Hyder

Abbre­via­tions and acronyms these days are mul­tipl­ying by the pound. Everywhere you turn someone is making up some cute saying to shor­ten something. Mostly I’m all for it, if for no other rea­son than it just makes you sound cool when you can throw these terms around and know what you’re tal­king about. Actually, I can often tell if someone doesn’t know what he/she is tal­king about because of the way that they misuse cer­tain terms or abbre­via­tions. Or even if they spell or capi­ta­lize them inco­rrectly. A com­mon exam­ple is the word Ajax. (Asynch­ro­nous Javasc­ript and XML) Which is correctly spe­lled Ajax, not AJAX. A lot of peo­ple think it should be spe­lled all caps because of what it stands for, but the term is actually it’s own word, and no lon­ger con­si­de­red an acronym. This may be news to you, but any pro­gram­mer that actually wri­tes javasc­ript will con­firm this infor­ma­tion. Another one that always makes me smirk is when peo­ple group Java and Javasc­ript together. Like they have something in com­mon. This is more well known among geek types, that they aren’t rela­ted, but I still come across it on occa­sion when hea­ring peo­ple trying to BS over their heads about stuff they don’t know.

There are a lot of terms that I like, and use fre­quently. Like ‘Social Media’ — it just feels good, it’s the embo­di­ment of the post­mo­dern web com­mu­nity. Or even ‘Web 2.0′, which ori­gi­nally I didn’t like.. But it grew on me as it began and con­ti­nues to take on new mea­ning day by day. And now is com­monly acces­sed in my library of lan­guage. And these terms are extre­mely help­ful when explai­ning things to collea­gues and well edu­ca­ted clients. For exam­ple, it’s much easier to explain Last.fm as a social media music site, than taking the time to explain all of the fea­tu­res of the site to a peer. You just slap the term social media on there, and your inten­ded audience can auto­ma­ti­cally assume a num­ber of things about the site, how it works, and how they can be a part of it. –Brilliant

But then, we have a few terms that don’t help any­body. They don’t make anything easier to unders­tand, they often require more expla­na­tion than is neces­sary, and some­ti­mes even con­fuse your audience more than before you ope­ned your mouth. We call these terms bunk-terms. One such bunk-term is DHTML. Which is sup­po­sed to stand for Dyna­mic Html (Hyper-text Mar­kup Lan­guage). But anyone that knows the first thing about html, knows that it is not dyna­mic. Hence the use of other lan­gua­ges as javasc­ript, php, and data­ba­ses. So the expla­na­tion then is that DHTML is the use of html in con­junc­tion with these other lan­gua­ges. Well that doesn’t make any sense in a num­ber of ways.

1. DHTML is not modi­fied html. You use the same html or xhtml as you do on any web­page, the only dif­fe­rence is that you add other lan­gua­ges. But this does not make the html new! xhtml is a term that makes sense, because it deno­tes that you are using a refi­ned and defi­ned for­mat of html. dhtml does not denote anything about the html!

2. Just because you use more than one lan­guage does not mean that you get to make up a new lan­guage and call it a com­bi­na­tion of the others. I speak English and Spa­nish. That does not warrant me to make up a bunk-term and say that I speak Hyde­rish. Cause then I would get to have this con­ver­sa­tion: “What’s Hyde­rish?” “Oh, it’s when you speak English AND Spa­nish” “THAT IS NOT A LANGUAGE YOU MORON!!!” And I would be a moron if I called it that.

3. Dyna­mic is not desc­rip­tive at all. It’s coun­ter pro­duc­tive in the realm of expla­na­tory acronyms. Any time I have someone use the term, they have to stop and explain what they mean by using this bunk-term. Its not like a nor­mal acronym where you can just type out each indi­vi­dual term in parenthe­sis, such as SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). And move on, but you have to explain that this bunk-term actually isn’t intui­tive at all.

So why do we con­ti­nue to beat our­sel­ves over the head with these terms that don’t help us? I would hazard a guess that anyone who is fami­liar with this term has been frus­tra­ted with it once or more times. Are we wai­ting for it to catch on? If that’s the case, who is it going to catch on to? Anyone that unders­tands the term without a lengthy expla­na­tion, most likely is bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­ted to by using more rele­vant terms. Let’s all do each other a favor and stop using such bunk-terms. –kenny

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