HTML 4 vs HTML 5: Difference and Comparison

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. HTML forms the base of any website as HTML contains the information about the document, tells the browser the data on the page in terms of text and links and directs the browsers where to find images.

The most common and popular versions of HTML are HTML 4 and HTML 5.

Key Takeaways

  1. HTML 5 has improved support for multimedia content such as video and audio, while HTML 4 does not have these capabilities.
  2. HTML 5 includes new semantic elements that provide better structure to web pages, while HTML 4 relies on generic div and span tags.
  3. HTML 5 is designed to work better with mobile devices and responsive web design, while HTML 4 is primarily focused on desktop browsers.

HTML 4 vs HTML 5

HTML 4 is a 4th version of markup language with fewer features and tags. It is powerful and can work on different browsers. It has limited multimedia support. HTML 5 has a variety of advanced features and tags like a <canvas> tag in which javascript is used to draw pictures. It supports multimedia.

HTML 4 vs HTML 5

In HTML 4, the medium of communication between the server and the client is through streaming and long polling. There are no web sockets in HTML 4.

It has applet tags to display the applets on web browsers. Script attribute is necessary for HTML 4 as it links tags and refers to JavaScript and other similar scripts.

To track the user’s location in HTML 4 is difficult.

On the other hand, HTML 5 has web sockets for the communication if the client and the server. This allows full-duplex communication between both parties.

The applet tag has been replaced from HTML 5 by a new tag called <object>. Script attribute is not mandatory in HTML 5. The location of the user in HTML 5 can be easily found by leveraging the JS GeoLocation.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHTML 4HTML 5
Version HTML 4 is the 4th version of HTML and is also the extended version of HTML 3.2 HTML 5 is the 5th version of HTML and is also the extension of HTML 4
Features It is an older version, so it has fewer features It is a new version and has advanced features
Error handling It provides decent error handling and moderate consistency in malformed documents. It provides better error handling and has high consistency in malformed documents.
Third-party elements Many third-party elements like Silverlight and flash support HTML4Multimedia support HTML5
Tags provision There is no provision for new tags in HTML 4 It allows new tags like video, canvas, audio, and others

What is HTML 4?

HTML 4 is a markup language that was published in 1997 as a W3C Recommendation. HTML 4 is an extended version of HTML 3.2.

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It is a revision of the previous HTML. It supports various features like a scripting language, style sheets, embedding objects, richer tables, object support, and other advanced accessibility features for special users who have a disability.

HTML 4 has more powerful capabilities than the previous versions of HTML. It is established, standard, and hence compatible with numerous web browsers.

HTML 4 has high internalization, which helps to write documents in different languages and can be transported all over the world.

HTML 4 had the addition of access keys and has the potential to form groups of controls semantically and other active labels. The structure and presentation in HTML 4 are better and with the ability to even markup text descriptions.

The elements in HTML4 document have three parts – a start tag, content, and an end tag.

The elements in HTML 4 are case-insensitive and can be written in any way. The attributes of the elements can define the properties of that particular element.

An ideal HTML 4 document will begin with a DOCTYPE declaration, and the element will contain a HEAD and a BODY. The information is contained in the former, while the latter contains the content of the document.

html 4 1

What is HTML 5?

HTML is the fifth and latest major version of HTML, a WWW Consortium (W3C) recommendation. It was released on 22nd January 2008.

The objective of the new version was to support the latest multimedia and bring forth other new features. Language became easy and could be easily read by humans and integrated into computers and devices.

HTML 5 is the extended version of HTML 4. The new version not only subsumes HTML 4 but also others like DOM Level 2 HTML and XHTML 1.

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It has detailed processing models and can be easily implemented. It improves, extends, and rationalizes HTML documents, API, and other web applications.

There are several new syntactic features included in HTML 5. They are <video, audio, and canvas. It even introduced new elements and attributes to reflect the typical usage of modern websites.

It is not based on SGML. HTML 5 supports backward-compatible and triggers the standard-compliant rendering mode.

The new features in the API are timed media playback, editable content, offline, drag and drop, microdata, MIME type, history, protocol handler registration, web storage, and other features to improve the API with a larger storage capacity.

It also supports GeoLocation, web cryptography, SQL database, indexedDB, and other advanced features.

html 5

Main Differences Between HTML 4 and HTML 5

  1. HTML 4 uses <acronym> tag to display abbreviations in the web browser, while HTML5 uses <abbr> tag to display the abbreviations in the web browser.
  2. HTML 4 is established, standard, and compatible with numerous web browsers. HTML 5 is evolving and is not compatible with different browsers.
  3. In HTML 4, the <meta> tag contains the schema attribute of the HTML document, while in HTML 5, the <mera> tag defines the header section of the HTML document.
  4. HTML 4 has no <canvas> tags, while HTML 5 has introduced <canvas> tags which are used to draw graphics using JavaScript.
  5. In HTML 4, the table tag has several attributes, while in HTML 5, the table tag has only one attribute: the border.

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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18 thoughts on “HTML 4 vs HTML 5: Difference and Comparison”

  1. While HTML 4 served its purpose, HTML 5’s advanced features and better error handling make it a more preferred choice for modern web development.

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