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DHTML – Definition & explanation

DHTML stands for Dynamic HyperText Markup Language and is a term used to describe a mix of programming languages used to make web pages interactive. The programming languages often referred to are HTML, CSS, Javascript, and DOM (Document Object Model), but there are a few other technologies that can be substituted for these.

The term DHTML was first introduced in 1997 and is generally considered an outdated term today. The terms “DOM-scripting” and “unobtrusive Javascript” are more commonly used today.

Uses of DHTML

DHTML is generally used to create on-page effects, like small animations and interactive buttons/menus. For example, a dropdown menu can be animated using DHTML. More complex animations can also be achieved with DHTML For example, moving images and text on the page. This has allowed games to be developed using DHTML in the past.

The four elements of DHTML

DHTML generally consists of four elements, namely HTML, CSS, Javascript, and DOM (Document Object Model). Below is a summary of what each of these elements does.


HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, and it’s the most essential markup language for creating websites. HTML is generally used to create a page’s structure and layout.

This programming language works with elements, each of which is used for a different type of content. For example, HTML may indicate that the first line on a page is the heading using the <h> tag or that blocks of texts form a paragraph with the <p> tag.

HTML was first invented in 1991, with the most recent version, HTML5.2, first being made available in 2017.


CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets and is used to style a page. CSS tells browsers how the HTML on a page should be displayed, improving flexibility.

CSS was first developed to make designing websites easier. It allows changes to be displayed site-wide. An external CSS file can be used to specify the font, background color, and many other things site-wide, saving developers time. Before it was introduced, these changes would have to be made on a page-by-page basis.


Javascript is a scripting language that makes it possible for users to interact with a web page. It is one of the most important programming languages for the web, along with HTML and CSS.

Javascript can be used to automatically update news feeds and make things like contact forms and buttons function. Javascript is extremely dynamic, however, it can cause issues for search engine crawlers if not optimized correctly. This can potentially harm a site’s search engine performance.


DOM stands for Document Object Model. It describes the properties of all HTML elements and how they can be accessed. The DOM creates a way to find and change the HTML on a page.

The DOM allows the HTML to be made dynamic using Javascript by allowing the HTML elements to be changed using Javascript. It can also change the CSS on a page, among various other things.


In the following example, JavaScript is used to write the text "ExampleText" into the body of an HTML page:[1]

<title>DHTML with JavaScript</title>  
<script type="text/javascript">  

Here's another code example where CSS is used to change the style of the h1 heading:

<title>DHTML with CSS</title>  
<h1 onclick="this.style.color='blue'">This is a h1 heading</h1>  

The difference between HTML and DHTML

The main difference between HTML and DHTML is that HTML is a markup language, whereas DHTML is a term used to refer to a group of programming languages used in conjunction with one another.

Using HTML, a web developer can create a static web page that forms the structure of a website. Other technologies are used to make HTML pages dynamic and functional.

DHTML can be used to create dynamic web pages since it encompasses all important technologies needed to do so. This allows for more flexibility when creating web pages.

Its importance for SEO

Since DHTML leverages Javascript, it’s an important concept to understand for SEO. Incorrect implementation of Javascript can cause issues for search engine crawlers, potentially harming a page’s performance in the SERPs.

Incorrect implementation of any of the elements used in DHTML sites can also cause issues with the user experience. For example, a site may become slow or certain resources may not display correctly.

By understanding the different elements, the best practices, and ensuring the features you use are supported by the most important browsers, a site’s performance can be improved with DHTML.


  1. DHTML Tutorial JavaTpoint. Retrieved 16 June 2021.

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