HTML <xmp> Tag: Usage, Attributes and Practical Examples

By Cristian G. Guasch •  Updated: 09/25/23 •  9 min read

Diving headfirst into HTML can seem a bit daunting, but there’s one tag that often flies under the radar: the <xmp> tag. In its heyday, this unassuming little piece of code was a valuable tool for displaying preformatted text on your webpages. Now it’s largely considered obsolete, but understanding its usage and attributes can give you a deeper appreciation of HTML’s history.

The <xmp> tag – which stands for ‘example’ – was designed to display text exactly as written in the HTML source code, preserving white space and line breaks without the need for extra formatting or special characters. And yes, it even displayed other HTML tags in their raw form – no easy feat!

However, before we get too nostalgic about our old friend <xmp>, I should note that it’s not supported in HTML5, and modern browsers have better alternatives for achieving the same results (like <pre> and <code>). Despite its obsolescence though, learning about <xmp> provides interesting insights into how far we’ve come in web design.

Diving deep into the world of HTML coding, one cannot overlook the importance of tags. Among these numerous tags, there’s one often overlooked yet quite useful – the <xmp> tag. It’s a relic from older HTML versions that still carries relevance today.

Why is it important? The <xmp> tag lets you display raw HTML code on your webpage without any processing or interpretation by browsers. It’s like a pause button for the browser’s rendering engine, letting you demonstrate code in its pure form.

Let me walk you through an example:

  <p>This is a paragraph.</p>

On your webpage, this will show up exactly as typed – including those angle brackets! No stylized paragraph here; just raw, unprocessed text. This feature makes <xmp> incredibly handy for tutorials and guides where showing actual code is necessary.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with <xmp>. There are some caveats to be aware of:

Despite these limitations, if quick-and-dirty raw code display is what you’re after – <xmp> might just be your ticket!

Now that we’ve got our feet wet understanding the basics of this ancient yet unique tag let’s delve deeper into its attributes (or lack thereof) in the upcoming sections. Stay tuned!

Attributes of the HTML <xmp> Tag

I’m diving into the attributes of the HTML <xmp> tag, a rarely used but handy element when you need to display text as it is in your code. It’s important to note, though, that this tag doesn’t actually have any specific attributes associated with it. Instead, it relies on global attributes applicable to all HTML tags.

For instance, let’s consider some universal attributes like class, id, and style. You could use these with the <xmp> tag to apply CSS styling or JavaScript functionality:

<xmp class="myClass" id="myID" style="color:blue;">
  This is some sample text.

In this example, I’ve applied a CSS class (myClass), an ID (myID), and inline styling (changing text color to blue). All these elements enhance the presentation without influencing the core function of <xmp>, which is displaying raw text exactly as written.

It’s crucial not messing up with event attribute handlers like onclick, onload, or onmouseover with <xmp>. Triggering JavaScript events within an <xmp> block can lead to unpredictable behavior since browsers interpret everything between <xmp> tags as preformatted text.

Despite its limited utility and lack of special attributes, there are instances where you might find using an HTML <xmp> tag helpful. For displaying large chunks of unprocessed code without worrying about manually escaping less than (<) or greater than (>) symbols in your markup language, it certainly has its place.

Always remember! The use of <xmp> tag is discouraged by W3C and it’s obsolete in HTML5. It’s better off using more modern alternatives such as the <pre> or <code> tags for similar purposes.

How to Use the HTML <xmp> Tag

If you’re diving into web development, there’s no doubt that you’ll encounter a multitude of HTML tags. One such tag is the <xmp> tag. But what does it do? Simply put, this tag lets you display text as is, without having to worry about HTML parsing. It’s like telling your browser, “Hey, just take it easy and show this text exactly how I’ve typed it here.”

Let’s look at an example:

  <p>This is how we use the xmp tag.</p>

In this snippet, instead of reading the <p> tags and forming a paragraph with “This is how we use the xmp tag.”, your browser will simply display everything within the <xmp> tags verbatim. So your output would be:

<p>This is how we use the xmp tag.</p>

Cool right? However, bear in mind that modern browsers have deprecated usage of <xmp>. They’ve replaced it with other elements such as pre or code.

Now don’t get me wrong — understanding old school HTML tags isn’t wasted effort! It gives us a deeper insight into how far we’ve come and why certain decisions were made in creating modern syntaxes.

One common mistake while using <xmp> revolves around nesting other tags inside it. Remember that anything nested within an <xmp> will be displayed as-is! So if you’re planning on using any formatting or interactive elements inside an <xmp>, think again!

So there you have it: my quick guide on using the HTML <xmp> tag. Keep coding and exploring those HTML mysteries!

Real-World Examples of HTML <xmp> Tag in Action

Let’s dive right into the world of coding and explore a few real-world examples of how we can use the HTML <xmp> tag. You’ll soon find that it’s not as intimidating as it may appear!

First off, imagine you’re creating a tutorial website for budding web developers. You’ll naturally need to display chunks of code without them actually executing on your page. That’s where our trusty <xmp> tag comes in handy! Here is an example:

    <h1>Hello World!</h1>

In this scenario, instead of rendering “Hello World!” as a heading, your webpage would actually display the whole raw code within the <xmp> tags.

Here’s another common situation: say you’re building an online platform for sharing programming snippets. Users should be able to see and copy each other’s code easily. With the <xmp> tag, displaying preformatted text becomes child’s play:

    function greet() {
        alert('Hello, user!');

No matter how complex or lengthy your users’ scripts get, they will always render exactly as typed inside those helpful little <xmp> tags.

However, I urge caution when using this tag – there are some pitfalls to watch out for. Primarily remember that <xmp> is obsolete in HTML5. So while it might work fine now in most browsers, future compatibility isn’t guaranteed. Furthermore, unlike the more modern <pre> or <code> tags which accept CSS styling and character entities respectively; with <xmp>, what you type is what you get – no exceptions!

Finally, let me show you one last example demonstrating a typical mistake often made by beginners:

<xmp>This is a <em>great</em> day!</xmp>

In the above example, you might expect “great” to be emphasized. But remember, <xmp> doesn’t process any tags within it. So, instead of rendering “This is a great day!”, your webpage would simply display the raw code exactly as written.

Using HTML <xmp> tag can be quite straightforward once you get the hang of it! However, do bear in mind its limitations and consider using <pre> or <code> for better functionality and future-proofing your website. Happy coding!

Conclusion: The Impact and Importance of Using HTML <xmp> Tag

I’ll tell y’all, the HTML <xmp> tag doesn’t get enough credit. It’s a powerhouse in the world of web development, playing an instrumental role in displaying preformatted text on your webpage. This underappreciated gem has been saving developers countless hours by preserving whitespace and special characters.

Let me give you an example. Suppose you want to show some code snippets or ASCII art on your webpage without any changes. Instead of painstakingly entering &lt; for every ‘<‘ character or worrying about extra spaces disappearing, just wrap it all up in an <xmp> tag like this:

void main() {
  printf("Hello, World!");

And voila! Your text will appear exactly as is, making life so much easier.

But be careful not to misuse it. A common mistake I’ve seen is using <xmp> tags for large blocks of text that aren’t meant to be displayed “as is”. This can lead to unnecessary scrolling and may even affect the readability of your website.

So why does the humble <xmp> tag matter? Here are three key reasons:

Despite its benefits though, take note that the <xmp> tag isn’t supported in HTML5. You might want to consider alternatives like the <pre> or <code> tags which offer similar functionality with wider support across modern browsers.

In essence, while old school and often overlooked, there’s no denying that the HTML <xmp> tag has had its fair share of impact and importance in the realm of web development. And who knows? Maybe it’ll make a comeback someday. Until then, it’s got my respect for its simplistic brilliance and practicality!

Cristian G. Guasch

Hey! I'm Cristian Gonzalez, I created HTML Easy to help you learn HTML easily and fast.

Related articles