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Posted April 10, 2011
What are the improvements in this 1.6 version of Joomla? To me, the best is simply the improvement in the outputting of HTML table code in templates. The book is quite upfront in decrying the drawbacks in 1.5 and earlier versions, where HTML tables were used to also define page layout. Though, somewhat cynically, if you read the earlier books on Joomla, you won't likely find this mentioned at the times when those versions were the latest. Another related improvement is the discarding of Joomla custom tags in table output. What is seen now, if you were to peruse the Joomla table sections of the template, is the original H1, H2 [etc] tags.
Tiggeler cites several advantages. The code is now likely to be shorter and easier to read. The shorter length improves downloading, especially in bandwidth constrained contexts, like cellphones. The easier manual reading helps debugging by programmers. The standardisation makes the downstream use of the Joomla output easier by other programs.
Plus, and this is a non-trivial consideration, it helps search engines more accurately parse the tabular output to discern the meaning of your page. You want better search engine rankings for the page, right?
In a related way, check out the last chapter, SEO Improvements. SEO means Search Engine Optimisation. It discusses other related changes to Joomla HTML output that can possibly improve the semantic analysis of your pages by a search engine. Whether your website is a commercial enterprise or non-profit, you surely always want better rankings, so the chapter is worth careful parsing.