Web Authoring Statistics: Editors and their custom markup

GoLive's footprints are all over the Web. A scary number of pages use <table gridx="" gridy="" showgridx="" showgridy="">, not to mention the multitude of <csscriptdict>, <csactiondict>, and <csobj> elements.

GoLive is of course far from the only offender. There are more <o:p> elements (from Microsoft Office) on the Web than there are <h6> elements. There are also plenty of <x-claris-window>, <x-claris-tagview>, and <x-sas-window> elements (from Claris Homepage, we presume). Apparently Actinic, a British company that produces e-commerce solutions, has software that is now quite widely deployed , too: <actinic:basehref>, <actinic:section>, <actinic:nowserving>, and <actinic:curraccount> elements litter the Web. Macromedia join in the fun as well, with <mm:endlock> and <mm:beginlock> elements found on a number of pages (the former somewhat more than the latter, oddly). NetObjects Fusion is the source of a startling number of nof="" attributes on many elements (not quite enough to hit any of the "popular attributes" charts, but hiding just below the fold of the table, body, img, td and a elements' tables).

Some of the more obscure cases of non-standard tags we found include a series of tags with the st1: prefix, such as <st1:city>, and <st1:placetype>, <st1:country-region>, <st1:state>, which we are told come from Microsoft Office ("smarttags"). Those four tags are used more often than the ins and del elements from HTML4 (and there are others).

Of interest to the SVG crowd may be the fact that all of the elements mentioned so far are more popular than IE's VML. <v:stroke> is the most popular VML element, followed by <v:shape>, <v:shapetype>, <v:path>, <v:f>, <v:formulas>, <v:imagedata>, and <v:fill>. The last of those is only used about 40% as often as the first one. (There's actually a v:shape attribute that is used on div elements a lot more than the v:foo elements, as well.)

Certain individual sites use custom markup that appeared on the radar, too: the New York Times, for instance, with, for example, their <NYT_COPYRIGHT> element.

The good thing, if we can be forgiven for trying to remain optimistic in the face of all this non-standard markup, is that at least these elements are all clearly using vendor-specific names. This massively reduces the likelihood that standards bodies will invent elements and attributes that clash with any of them.