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W3C Considering An HTML 5 414

Posted by Zonk
from the party-like-its-1999 dept.
An anonymous reader writes "When the decision was initially made to move in the direction of XHTML, instead of a new version of HTML proper, it seemed like a good idea. Years later and the widespread adoption of CSS (among other things) has proven that things don't always develop the way we expect. As a result, HTML 5 has been revived by the W3C. After some lobbying and continued work by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group, the old web markup language is getting an official face-lift. A post to the Webforefront blog explains the history behind the initial decision to move to XHTML, and why things are so different in the here and now."
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W3C Considering An HTML 5

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  • Absolutely right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimicus (737525) on Friday July 20, 2007 @08:40AM (#19925565)
    Because what the world really needs right now is another version of a web standard which has had hardly any full, correct implementations in any version that's ever existed.

    Or are the W3C just trying to justify their existence?
    • by Valacosa (863657) on Friday July 20, 2007 @08:46AM (#19925601)
      Because this time people will code to it, dammit.
      • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:02AM (#19925727)

        Because this time people will code to it, dammit.
        You got coffee on my monitor.
      • by arivanov (12034) on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:02AM (#19925729) Homepage
        Yeah, right.

        That shall be coding to a standard defined by a vendor infested committee where each representative has been obsessed to ensure that all of their bugs are standardised as "this is not a bug, it is a feature".

        As a result the implementations will remain as quirky as they are now. At best. At worst...
        • by Allador (537449) on Friday July 20, 2007 @02:55PM (#19930689)
          Did you read the proposal, or anything around WHAT-WG's HTML5?

          It's actually incredibly sensible, and is a very practical and natural extension of what we're doing with HTML now.

          It has very little to do with browser bugs, or even web sites per-se. It's more about adding features to more naturally support web 'apps'.

          Read up on it, it actually makes a lot of sense.

          I just hope it can make some progress, but given that it was started by Mozilla, Apple and Opera, the people making the best browsers out there, it may actually have a chance of being supported.
      • by fbjon (692006) on Friday July 20, 2007 @10:13AM (#19926477) Homepage Journal
        You jest, but it is actually that simple. HTML 5.0 = HTML 4 with some new sugar + XHTML parser strictness.


        The result is that browsers will show you the finger if you don't code to the standard.

        • Re:Absolutely right (Score:5, Informative)

          by Excors (807434) on Friday July 20, 2007 @11:11AM (#19927159)

          HTML 5.0 = HTML 4 with some new sugar + XHTML parser strictness.

          That is incorrect: the HTML5 parsing algorithm [whatwg.org] never just stops and returns an error message (like in XML) - it specifies how every single stream of bytes is parsed into a DOM, with error-correction where necessary, in a way that tries hard to be compatible with the ~10^11 existing HTML pages on the web (which, in most cases, means being compatible with the behaviour of IE6).

          Almost all the content on the web today is invalid HTML, and it's never going to go away, which is why the browser developers have been pushing for a specification that describes how to handle invalid content instead of pretending it's not important.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rikkus-x (526844)

            a specification that describes how to handle invalid content

            Perhaps you'd like to write it? I'd like to see such a thing. It would be quite amazing if it was done well.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by thrillseeker (518224)
              a specification that describes how to handle invalid content

              Perhaps you'd like to write it? I'd like to see such a thing. It would be quite amazing if it was done well.


              I'd recommend a nice blue colored background with lots of white text and numbers when anything goes wrong - I kind of miss it not being in the web world ...
        • Re:Absolutely right (Score:5, Informative)

          by jalefkowit (101585) <jason@@@jasonlefkowitz...net> on Friday July 20, 2007 @11:15AM (#19927211) Homepage

          You jest, but it is actually that simple. HTML 5.0 = HTML 4 with some new sugar + XHTML parser strictness.

          The result is that browsers will show you the finger if you don't code to the standard.

          I'm a participant in the HTML Working Group [w3.org] and I can tell you that this is incorrect. You're thinking of XHTML2, not HTML 5. XHTML2 has the XML parser strictness and pages will fail to display if they're not well-formed. HTML 5 is going the complete opposite direction, assuming that people will code poorly and defining failure modes for browser vendors to follow when that happens.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2007 @12:16PM (#19928261)
            I'm very troubled by the implication that HTML5 will focus on the assumption that people will code poorly and the proper solution is to provide better failure modes for browsers. This is more likely to have the effect of lowering the standard than improving it as humans will simply take the easy road.

            I would plead for a higher standard that would require strict compliance to well-formed rules that would lead to better overall web governance, security, and standards that benefit the authors and readers. I'm really fed up with not being able to use my favorite browser for everything because the code is broken on one browser brand or version, or because one browser vendor simply wants to make their own rules.

            Let's do this generation of standards right. Make the coders comply with strict, well-formed rules or make them pay the price.
    • Re:Absolutely right (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tolan-b (230077) on Friday July 20, 2007 @08:50AM (#19925615)
      Actually HTML5 is largely a result of work by the main browser makers, except Microsoft I believe. Hixie from Opera is the project lead of the WhatWG which was created to extend HTML to make it more applicable for web applications. It fixes a lot of the problems with both HTML 4 and XHTML, and its backwards compatible with *both*.
      • by WED Fan (911325) <akahigeNO@SPAMtrashmail.net> on Friday July 20, 2007 @10:17AM (#19926517) Homepage Journal

        Actually HTML5 is largely a result of work by the main browser makers, except Microsoft I believe. Hixie from Opera is the project lead of the WhatWG which was created to extend HTML to make it more applicable for web applications. It fixes a lot of the problems with both HTML 4 and XHTML, and its backwards compatible with *both*.

        Excuse me, but it must be pointed out.

        When you start talking standards and you gather a group of browser/client makers to discuss new standards, you really do need to have the giant on the block represented. Otherwise, you get a set of standards that run the real possibility of being ignored, or worse, supplanted by the giant's idea.

        When the combined numbers of the "others" don't even come close to trumping the giant's numbers, you are heading to failure. In this case MS, like it or not, is the giant. The easiest way to stop this crazy, "IE only partially implements html x.0/css x.1/xhtml x.x" crap is to involve them.

        Of course, this is just crazy talk, right. Oh heavens, we might actually run into the problem of MS taking over the standard. You know what, when you have a formation marching down the street, and 70% are on one heel beat, and the other 30% are out of step with the 70% and aren't even in step with themselves, its the 30% that need to get with the beat.

        Failure to accept this is only going to widen the gulf, unless MS, through largesse or coincidence follows the new standard.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jalefkowit (101585)
          Microsoft has several people participating in the HTML Working Group [w3.org], and Chris Wilson [msdn.com], the leader of the IE team, is the chair of the group. So you don't have to worry about Microsoft being left out.
          • Re:Absolutely right (Score:5, Informative)

            by Trails (629752) on Friday July 20, 2007 @12:03PM (#19928017)
            Chris Wilson is a guy with his heart in the right place working for people who, in the past, put business strategy over standards support (I'm not editorializing, that's what they did). This is why MS's standard support is lame.

            That being said, Chris Wilson (at least) talks the talk, and IE 7 was a (small) step in the right direction.

            The more important, and encouraging, signal imo is MS hiring Standardista Molly Holzschlag. Given her history, I think we can expect more and better from MS on this front in the future.
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      Short answer. YES

      Long answer. Wc3 is made up of many different represenatives of different companies.

      If you could force all those damned scumbags that are still using the old Dreamweaver 8 (2004MX)..

      Ohhh how dare they use a old version of our apps that makes prefectly good HTML! DAMN THEM!

      as well as force adoption of new software all across the board as HTML changes force upgrades.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ronadams (987516)
        1. It's made of many people, period. Some of them do not work for any tech firms.
        2. If the primary (or even subsidiary) interest in updating standards was to sell more copies of Dreamweaver and other similar products, then why would there be free updates to Dreamweaver extensions to reflect standards changes? Also, the majority of the industry is not coding in Dreamweaver, so there's no chokehold on the business here.
        3. Sorry, no point-and-click HTML generator makes "perfectly good HTML". Many do a decent job, bu
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          if the W3C's purpose was to bolster commercial software sales, they sure are going about it in the most ineffective way possible.

          I dunno, I sure have bought a lot of copies of Notepad in the last ten years!
    • I am sure it does not make a difference at all, but at Georgia Tech, we used to have our students make a website as a 1% assignment in the course. Up until around 2006, we used to have them ensure W3C compliance. Afterwards, we just said it must work with any web browser that their TA may choose to use and that W3C was a good way to ensure that. I've met many a web designer who would be stumped for a few seconds if I ever asked them "Is ... W3C compliant?" as if they were evaluating then and there if it was
    • Re:Absolutely right (Score:5, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmail.cFREEBSDom minus bsd> on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:38AM (#19926079) Homepage Journal

      Or are the W3C just trying to justify their existence?

      That's a bit cynical, don't you think?

      HTML5 is the result of the hard work done by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group [whatwg.org] (WHATWG). The WHATWG is composed of members from all browser makers, with the occasional public comment thrown in for good measure. As a result, the group has been removing or reducing the ambiguity about implementing the various standards (especially the parser!) and have added features that bring HTML up to a true application platform. Their work is represented in web browsers every time someone uses the Canvas tag, Audio object, Storage API, and other modern features.

      The WHATWG was formed because the W3C was seen as too slow to execute such new technologies. Now that the WHATWG specs are stablizing, the W3C has taken a dump of the WHATWG HTML 5 standard and proposed it for ratification under W3C bylaws. This has several advantages over the WHATWG standardization, not the least of which is extracting patent waivers from companies like Apple who technically "own" some of the technologies behind the WHATWG standards.

      Note that the HTML5 group at the W3C is a bit different from most. In an attempt to remain as open as the WHATWG, they are accepting just about anyone as an "invited expert" to provide input and comments on the standards process. This is a huge departure from the way that most W3C standards are handled, and is probably a good choice for a standard as comprehensive and complex as HTML5.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        Some of the WHAT-WG's proposals for HTML5 look fun. The canvas tag (originally from Mozilla, I believe, but now in WebKit and Opera) lets you draw bitmap images via the DOM, but my favourite is client-side storage. This lets you store several KB of data locally, enough for simple documents in a number of formats.
        • Re:Absolutely right (Score:5, Interesting)

          by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmail.cFREEBSDom minus bsd> on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:48AM (#19926195) Homepage Journal

          The canvas tag (originally from Mozilla, I believe, but now in WebKit and Opera)

          Actually, it was originally from Apple Safari. Apple invented it for their desktop widget thingys. Opera and Mozilla have both embraced it with open arms. :)

          my favourite is client-side storage.

          I agree. I absolutely love this feature! Unfortunately, it's only implemented by Firefox at the moment. I was hoping that it would show up in Safari 3.0 so that richer iPhone applications could be written, but it was not to be. The feature request [webkit.org] is still sitting out there with no assigned implementer. I'm tempted to dive into Webkit and maybe see if I can add it.
        • Re:Absolutely right (Score:4, Interesting)

          by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdotNO@SPAMnexusuk.org> on Friday July 20, 2007 @12:30PM (#19928481) Homepage
          Some of the WHAT-WG's proposals for HTML5 look fun.

          Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of crazyness in there too. XHTML 1.1 went some way towards reducing the redundency of some tags. For example, the object tag replaces embed, iframe, etc with a single unified tag to handle all embedded objects (not sure why they didn't ditch img at the same time.

          HTML 5, on the other hand, seems to be keeping object but also reviving iframe and embed. Meanwhile they are introducing a load of tags to do the same job - video, audio, etc. This is crazyness since it means you have to revise the markup language every time someone invents a new type of embedded object, whereas just using a single object tag for everything means your browser can determine the type of content from the MIME content type of the object and render it if supported.

          I would prefer to see new features going into XHTML rather than HTML. However, XHTML does need a modification IMHO: the spec states that XHTML which isn't well formed must not be rendered - I think it would be better to require the browser display a page saying something along the lines of "this page is broken, click this button to try and fix it - it may not render correctly". Forcing web developers into writing well formed code is a Good Thing, but the end user needs a way of trying to render the page anyway if the developer did muppet it up.

          The trick to making bad web developers write good code is to make sure the people who are paying them know that they are bad developers - presenting a page stating that fact is a good way to do that.

          I don't believe the spec can (or should) define how to handle broken code in the specific sense - defining the handling for every corner case is impossible and would make the spec far too complex. Much better to just say "you present an error, give the user the option to fix it and then fix it up as best you can (how to do this is outside the scope of the spec)".
  • And yet another reason was that HTML was based on the older and more immense SGML language, where as XHTML was to be based on XML, which provided a more simplified rework of SGML.
    It appears [coverpages.org] the author doesn't know that xml is a subset of sgml
    • by ronadams (987516) on Friday July 20, 2007 @08:52AM (#19925629) Homepage
      There was an interesting discussion about this in the xml-dev mailing list [xml.org]. Rick Jelliffe had this to say:

      XML was developed as a subset of SGML. Most of the ISO working group which looked after SGML were also involved with the creation of XML (Clark, Kimber, Bosak, also Goldfarb, Peterson, me, and others). The correction for SGML came out before XML was finally put as a recommendation (AFAIR) so there never was a time when XML was not a true subset of SGML. Where there were differences, ISO8879 was corrected specifically to make sure that XML was indeed a subset. In fact, Charles Goldfarb even said at one stage "XML *is* the revision of SGML" (debate on the revision of ISO 8879 had started years before: XML was the embodyment of that).
      XML can be argued as both the revision to and a subset of SGML. Hence my disappointment in anything new that seems to shy away from this path, like HTML 5 instead of XHTML.
      • by tolan-b (230077) on Friday July 20, 2007 @08:59AM (#19925713)
        HTML 5 is also 'XHTML 5'. You can use well-formed XHTML style syntax, and deliver it with an application/xml or application/xhtml+xml mimetype, *or* you can format it HTML style and deliver it with a standard HTML mimetype.

        http://blog.whatwg.org/html-vs-xhtml [whatwg.org]
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ronadams (987516)

          Intersting! That makes me a bit more hopeful for the standard. The whole idea is to move towards the "semantic web": say what you want, and render it in the most accessible ways possible. More and more sites and services are being presented in both a standard and mobile format, as well as several handicapped-accessible formats. More choices is a good thing.

          What I'm not seeing (perhaps because I haven't read the standard yet, or thought it through enough) is what HTML brings to the table that XHTML can't.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by julesh (229690)
            Why bother with allowing the HTML mimetype, if it has no advantages other than it's what was done in the past?

            Because XHTML adoption has been slowed by a lack of backwards compatibility: you can't currently deliver XHTML in a standards-compliant way and expect it to work on anything other than a small minority of browsers. Sending the data with content type 'application/xhtml+xml' or whatever confuses the current installed base of internet explorer, making it an extremely bad idea, and probably unusable fo
    • by $1uck (710826)
      I have the joy of working with both (SGML in the Airforce and XML in the army). It was always my understanding that XML was inspired by SGML but it is NOT a subset/sgml standard (HTML is). Xml documents do not require DTD to be valid. I thought SGML did (its been a long time, I think you might be able to specify the dtd inside the sgml document, but you still needed it).
  • by ronadams (987516) on Friday July 20, 2007 @08:45AM (#19925595) Homepage
    TFA makes several great points about how this seeming sentiment of "we'll stick with the HTML we know and love" is more an unwillingness to change than it is to update a standard. The whole idea of XHTML was to provide a segueway into an altogether new way of distributing content. This really seems a regression more than anything. What does XHTML fail to deliver that would cause WC3 to shy away from the previously hardline (and appropriate, IMHO) stance of "this is the new HTML, get used to it"?
    • What does XHTML fail to deliver that would cause WC3 to shy away from the previously hardline (and appropriate, IMHO) stance of "this is the new HTML, get used to it"?
      First, having reviewed some of the things in the draft HTML5 standard Opera and Apple have been working on, I have to say that it is indeed worth standardizing.

      Second, I wonder about this "hardline" approach. Who made the W3C gods of the internet? I mean, things need to be standardized, but they refused to do their job and standardize, and guess what, the industry got together and made another standardization board which was mentioned in the OP. The W3C can't hardline anything... they just format the direction we're going... they don't choose it, the industry does that.

      Go ahead, think I'm wrong, think the W3C should just stick it to all those web developers and browser companies that have spent years working around the group that is supposed to make their lives easier. The W3C is a paper tiger... they are completely at the mercy of everyone else. They can't hardline anything, much less something which was being standardized without them anyway.
      • by Nimey (114278)

        Second, I wonder about this "hardline" approach.


        Yeah, because gods know that we need to have more Web pages that are best viewed with the writer's favorite web browser.

        If I want to look at someone's page with elinks, the page should work fine. Ditto if I want to use Konqueror or Opera.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:01AM (#19925721)
      Ill tell you why web developers do not adopt XHTML, its not because of reluctance to change, its because XHTML OFFERS NO BENEFITS TO HTML 4.

      Why would anyone in their right mind spend time updating from HTML 4 to XHTML 1.1 when there is no visible benefit and a LOT of pain.

      HTML 5 FINALLY introduces features that web developers NEED. Things like native client side validation, canvas and menu elements. These are things that we have been crying out for years but W3C disappeared up their own self-validating a**es. If they had introduced these features into XHTML then I am sure it would have been adopted by browsers and developers alike.

      The lack of support from a certain vendor would not have mattered because they would have been pressurized into supporting the standard by the >10% share of browsers that would support it.

      P.S. Posting in good 'ol plain text :)
      • by TheSunborn (68004)
        The reason might also be that Neither IE6 nor IE7 can really show xhtml, and insted treat it either as 'tag soup' or a tree, depending on your content-type header
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LingNoi (1066278)

        Things like native client side validation, canvas and menu elements. These are things that we have been crying out for years but W3C disappeared up their own self-validating a**es.

        Even with client side validation you would still have to validate it server side anyway unless you are a crap developer.

        I would rather have xhtml then go back to the mess that html was with its styling embedding directly into the tags and I know that if its allowed its going to happen. Some day I am going to get the tag soup code

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tknd (979052)

        Ill tell you why web developers do not adopt XHTML, its not because of reluctance to change, its because XHTML OFFERS NO BENEFITS TO HTML 4.

        Incorrect. Web developers don't adopt it because they're not required to. XHTML offers one big benefit that many bad web developers, like yourself, fail to see. That is strict parsing and failures associated with parse errors. When you write a program, the compiler/interpreter expects you to write code that adheres to the syntax defined by the language. Failure to d

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        I about couldn't disagree more.

        ``Ill tell you why web developers do not adopt XHTML, its not because of reluctance to change, its because XHTML OFFERS NO BENEFITS TO HTML 4.''

        On the contrary. XHTML, contrary to HTML, is easy to parse. There is a whole slew of tools available for parsing and processing XML documents, which can be used with XHTML straightforwardly (by virtue of XHTML being XML). Now, these benefits might be external to web developers, but, eventually, they should (and have) come back to them.
    • The whole idea of XHTML was to provide a segueway into an altogether new way of distributing content. . . . What does XHTML fail to deliver . . . ?

      It has failed to deliver adoption. We can argue about why (IE's lack of support, no compelling features), but the fact remains that a standard is worthless unless it actually becomes, you know, standard. Standardization is less a technical matter than a social one. Most of HTML's value derives not from its technical strengths, but from its ubiquity.

      To da

  • hmm. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Friday July 20, 2007 @08:48AM (#19925609)
    are they going to enforce all the current browsers to support it fully and correctly as well?

    or will some browsers go their own way with "extensions" and "implementations" specific to their own system like last time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ronadams (987516)

      are they going to enforce all the current browsers to support it fully and correctly as well? or will some browsers go their own way with "extensions" and "implementations" specific to their own system like every time.

      Fixed.

      No, the W3C has no authority or ability to enforce it. Browsers will do what they do. Hopefully, what they do is at least in the general neighborhood of the standards. Rules were made to be broken, and Web Standards were made to be bastardized by incompatible browsers.

  • Cry for relevency (Score:3, Insightful)

    by palladiate (1018086) <palladiate@gmai l . com> on Friday July 20, 2007 @08:52AM (#19925633)

    They can't let HTML die. The W3C would become irrelevant quickly if they stopped tweaking the language. Finally, even nomral users and web surfers have started to use HTML in web forums and MySpace (to usually garish effect, but still. XHTML just doesn't have the portability and ease of use that HTML did for things like forums.

    Take Fark for instance. After years and years, a critical mass of people are finally learning a, b, u, i, big, super, img, and other standard tags, most of which just don't work the same or at all under XHTML.

    Sadly, many useful old tags probably won't work in HTML 5, or not in any useful fashion. The W3C will most certainly mess with the language to bring it in line with XHTML conventions. They've already taken target="_blank" from us, what other useful gizmos are they going to futz with this time, bookmarks? You can pry my octothorpe from my cold, carpel-tunnel hands.

    Sure, CSS is damn useful and nobody generally liked frames. However, everything else about HTML was fine circa 1995. Maybe I'm being an old codger who still writes HTML pages without fancy crap like Frontpage, but I'm getting tired of their self-important crap. Breaking useful conventions just makes trying to communicate on the web that much harder. But, every time I tag font or add target="_blank", I do think about the W3C. Maybe that was just their goal all along.

    • Re:Cry for relevency (Score:5, Informative)

      by HappyHead (11389) on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:27AM (#19925945)
      After years and years, a critical mass of people are finally learning a, b, u, i, big, super, img, and other standard tags, most of which just don't work the same or at all under XHTML.

      Um, what? Seriously, the b, u, i and big tags are _exactly the same_ in XHTML. There was never a super element in HTML 4, it's just sup, and it's unchanged. The a tag does everything from HTML 4 the same way in XHTML. The only difference in it is that it's allowed extra attributes.

      Out of all of those things, the only one that's changed at all is the img tag, and that's only in two places - first, in XHTML you are required to provide an alt= attribute (instead of just strongly recommended like in HTML 4), and second, you have to close the tag properly, with a /> at the end.

      Frames are also still part of the XHTML spec.

      The font tag however, is gone and won't be missed any more than the blink tag was, by anyone other than frontpage (which absolutely loves adding thirty or so font tags in a row setting and unsetting the color 'white' from the text.
      • The a tag does everything from HTML 4 the same way in XHTML.

        Well, there is also that problem with taking away a few attributes, like the target I mentioned. I can provide a list if you like. My point isn't that things are broken yet, just that the W3C will likely pull crap to remain relevant. XHTML just doesn't seem to provide everything some people need, and thus the reason for the continued use of HTML.

        Frames are also still part of the XHTML spec.

        Yes, in the frames spec, not strict. But, as I

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Derek Pomery (2028)
          The only advantage font gives over using the style attribute (which gives far greater control) is that forum text sometimes disables CSS due to security concerns.
          This can be solved with moderately smarter CSS munging (whitelist the font-* stuff) or simply not allowing your users to use HTML in form posts in the first place - use bbcode instead.
          That can be munged by the server however it wants.

          Rest of what you were saying was kinda silly so I just focused on the one legitimate one.

          Oh, and target="_blank" - t
    • by Steve001 (955086)

      palladiate wrote:

      They can't let HTML die. The W3C would become irrelevant quickly if they stopped tweaking the language. Finally, even nomral users and web surfers have started to use HTML in web forums and MySpace (to usually garish effect, but still. XHTML just doesn't have the portability and ease of use that HTML did for things like forums.

      I think a reason that XHTML has not taken off is due to its unforgiving strictness. From what I understand, if you make a single mistake in XHTML the page will

      • Re:Cry for relevency (Score:4, Informative)

        by mikael_j (106439) on Friday July 20, 2007 @10:14AM (#19926493)

        I think a reason that XHTML has not taken off is due to its unforgiving strictness. From what I understand, if you make a single mistake in XHTML the page will not work and for that reason it is not intended to be handwritten. But with HTML you often have different ways of achieving the same effect, such as with centering.

        Actually, one of the reason many people have picked up on XHTML is because it's a lot "cleaner" than "good" ol' HTML 4, the strict rules are one of the reasons for this, in XHTML you're not allowed to do stupid shit like "<i>foo and <b>bar</i> are both words</b>". And writing XHTML by hand is much easier than relying on some horrible WYSIWYG tool's generated code.

        This is the reason for the continuing appeal of HTML: its simplicity. My understanding that XHTML requires is that document formatting be separate from the content of the document. Yet sometimes is so much simpler to use a CENTER tag versus having to mark a section of text with a customized tag and then go into a style sheet to center a single section of text.

        Actually, formatting should be kept separate from the content for several very good reasons. Maintainability is a biggie as anyone who's ever had to redesign a static HTML website riddled with <font> tags. Extra points if it was made using a WYSIWYG tool that uses three or for tags when you only need one...

        Anyway, I for one hope that XHTML is path we stay on. And I think the main problem that XHTML+CSS has had is Internet Explorer and its craptastic handling of CSS (still crappy in IE7 although it's gotten slightly better).

        /Mikael

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Bogtha (906264)

        I think a reason that XHTML has not taken off is due to its unforgiving strictness. From what I understand, if you make a single mistake in XHTML the page will not work

        This is not true. There is only one class of errors that causes a fatal error, and that's when the document isn't well-formed. Invalid pages can still be served without tripping the mandatory error-handling.

        for that reason it is not intended to be handwritten.

        No, handwritten is still fine. Handwriting XHTML and then publishin

    • by AceJohnny (253840)

      The W3C would become irrelevant quickly if they stopped tweaking the language.
      That's the essence of where the W3C went wrong: it's supposed to be a technical group existing solely to promote better standards.

      If they promote standards just to justify their existence, then they've fallen for the Dark Side of Committees, and should just be brought out back and shot in the head.
  • If you look at the docs and stuff, there's just so many stupid things.. like there now being no semantic replacement for like there is with and , and the stupid rules involving
    • s not being allowed in

      s. And the worst part, and I don't know if this is w3c's fault, but using & for html entities is inexcusably broken. URLs have already had & reserved for years, and now you suddenly can't use a & in a link.

    • by webrunner (108849)
      Okay, "plain old text" apparently doesnt mean what It's supposed to mean.

      If you look at the docs and stuff, there's just so many stupid things.. like there now being no semantic replacement for <u> like there is with <i> and <b>, and the stupid rules involving <ul>s not being allowed in <p>s. And the worst part, and I don't know if this is w3c's fault, but using & for html entities is inexcusably broken. URLs have already had & reserved for years, and now you suddenly c
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by sveard (1076275)
        Isn't the & character forbidden in XHTML links? You have to use the & entity, if I remember correctly. Sure, it's allowed in HTML 4.01, but not in XHTML (again, if I remember correctly)
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          That's because XML expects that all attributes are properly encoded. There's a method behind their madness. It's not like they just said "hey, lets see how we can screw up links in XHTML." No, they took XML, which already didn't allow & or many other characters in attributes without encoding and stuck to that standard. XML was standardized years before we decided to use it for webpage markup, it's not like they could just go ahead and change it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Quickly, and in the order you mentioned them...

        First, the italic and bold tags don't have semantic replacements either. You have the em tag, which is supposed to represent emphasised text, and the strong tag, which is supposed to represent strongly emphasised text. Following standard typographic conventions, emphasised text is rendered in italics, and strongly emphasised text is rendered in bold. These are not the same thing as the i and b tags. A screen reader would completely ignore those, but might use t
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by brunascle (994197)
      you, sir, are apparently the last person i should be listening to about HTML.

      it's a joke. laugh.
  • It's too hard to implement, because there is no default way it should look like. There is no default, standard stylesheet. What height is H1 supposed to look like by default?

    Also look how hard and painful it is to implement a 3 column liquid layout with just HTML and CSS. Compare this to XUL's grid, vbox and hbox (yes, I know there are now CSS selectors in Firefox, Opera and Safari to do that)

    Fact is, HTML is based on a page/document model, whereas, nowadays, HTML "pages" are most of the time "screens", part of an application. The idea to separate content and layout is nice, but the thing is, most content in pure-ist HTML+CSS is basically a bunch of div's and span's. It isn't much semantically richer than tablesoup.

    IMHO, if I were to redesign HTML today, it would look a lot like Xul, with XBL2 and microformats on top.
    • Also look how hard and painful it is to implement a 3 column liquid layout with just HTML and CSS
      It's trivial with CSS3, which includes a set of rules for defining multi-column [w3.org] layouts.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bogtha (906264)

      It's too hard to implement, because there is no default way it should look like. There is no default, standard stylesheet. What height is H1 supposed to look like by default?

      I fail to see the difficulty. Headings aren't supposed to have a particular default height. What makes this difficult? Browser vendors can simply pick one themselves.

      Also look how hard and painful it is to implement a 3 column liquid layout with just HTML and CSS.

      It's trivial. It's a bit more complicated if you are t

  • What are these people, engineers or something?

    It needs to have a spiffy name like Extreme HTML or HTML-Pro or Sup-R-HTML or HOT!ml.

    Or... I have it. Call it HTML 2.0.

    Bother the fact that that version number has already been used, everyone knows that the purpose of version numbers is not to identify sequence but to communicate a marketing message and what could be better than an implication that it's "the HTML for Web 2.0?"

  • by ajs318 (655362)
    Let's have HTML5 exactly like XHTML, but make it case-insensitive. Especially ditch the awful <font> tag. And allow "centre" to be spelt correctly!

    The thing that ruined XHTML was that it introduced case-sensitivity to a system which had previously been case-insensitive. This is a recipe for breakage. Case-sensitive behaviour is fine in its own right -- after all, just because the dollar sign and the figure 4 come from the same key on the keyboard, they aren't interchangeable, so why should the l
    • by pne (93383)

      And allow "centre" to be spelt correctly!

      Now what we need is a new version of HTTP that allows "Referrer" to be spelled correctly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:24AM (#19925925)
    Another web standard for microsoft to ignore.
  • by apathy maybe (922212) on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:32AM (#19926007) Homepage Journal
    Can I have a client side include this time around?

    Server side includes are very nice, except that they require a server!

    Client side includes have the potential to be much nicer! Two quick reasons: the first is when (X)HTML is used on (for example) CDs or similar, there isn't a server, and trying to make each page the same either requires fucking around with templates and software, or else using forms...; the second is it would work the same was as having external CSS, saves on download time, allows parts of the page to be downloaded only once and so on. (This second point would also make it really easy to offer different versions of the same page, include header and footer, and don't for example.)

    I know that JavaScript client side includes exist. They, however, are a kludge. They need JavaScript for one!, they might not work on all browsers, they might not be standard and so on. No thanks.

    A simple client side include that worked on the client side the same way the PHP include does, and I'll be happy.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I can't for the life of me understand why this type of stuff doesn't exist. If you can pull down images, video, and all that other stuff and display it inline, then surely you should be able to do the same with HTML content. There's been a lot of kludges made in Javascript and the use of iFrames and other wonderful things, but personally, I think that client side includes has been the most glaring omission. The only problem that I could think of, is whether or not the urls from the href,src, and others s
  • Clearly XHTML is inferior to HTML otherwise the people behind this push for HTML 5.0 would be pushing for XHTML 2.0 instead. But why is XHTML worse than HTML?
  • After all, XHTML is currently considered harmful [hixie.ch].

    Sure, HTML includes browser-specific extensions, but if you do not use those, and instead HTML+CSS, you'll end up as more standards compliant than using XHTML with CSS and the wrong MIME type.
  • date tag? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ngunton (460215) on Friday July 20, 2007 @09:53AM (#19926249) Homepage
    I have suggested this before and always got shouted down for it... but as a web developer, I really wish they had simply implemented tags like 'date', which the browser would automatically know about as a date field and have its own built-in popup calendar for browsing dates, rather than having to either rely on plain text, lame dropdown menus, or else implementing yet another date popup javascript library (or including yet another javascript library which slows down the user experience even more).

    There are so many things that could be included in the html language if it weren't for the purists - dates, columns, real collapsable tree controls, counters, AJAXified controls that work without all the crap you have to do today to detect browsers... but no, the purists say "you can do it in this (incredible convoluted) css" or "you can implement this in javascript" (cue long convoluted "obvious" solution).

    Geeks are notorious for generalising and making everything nice and orthogonal, but they often forget that sometimes it's worth having something that makes life easier 90% of the time, even if it's technically possible to reduce it to a set of other constructs that already exist.

    Remember lisp, nobody uses it for real-world programming even though it's incredibly powerful. No, we use other languages that have lots of useless and redundant and inflexible syntax that makes the act of everyday programming easier and more straightforward most of the time. Are these inferior languages as powerful, expressive and all-encompassing as lisp? No. Are they easier for 99% of mere mortals to comprehend and use? Yes. If we had tags for controls that reflected the more dynamic nature of the Web today, even if many of those tags could be implemented in javascript, it would make pages smaller and faster 90% of the time (you could still implement it yourself if you really needed additional functionality).

    But, as usual, the purists are in control. We're not supposed to use tables for arranging pages; no, we have to use CSS to do that. So now we have a bunch of pages that don't render properly. But do they admit that it was a bad idea? No, it's the browsers' faults for crappy implementations. I don't get it, this religious mindset that says "You must do it one way, our way is the only way". "The TABLE tag is for tabular data only, don't use it for arranging the page". What crap. The table tag is amazingly useful, it works in all browsers, and no I don't mind in the least typing TR and TD everywhere. It's simple and it works. Yes, it's more verbose perhaps than the CSS version but at least it works in all browsers and doesn't end up with overlapping crappy text all over the place.
    • Re:date tag? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jalefkowit (101585) <jason@@@jasonlefkowitz...net> on Friday July 20, 2007 @11:25AM (#19927361) Homepage

      "The TABLE tag is for tabular data only, don't use it for arranging the page". What crap. The table tag is amazingly useful, it works in all browsers, and no I don't mind in the least typing TR and TD everywhere. It's simple and it works.

      Unless your reader is blind or visually impaired, and using a screen reader, in which case your page will blow up spectacularly. Or if they try to access your page via a mobile phone browser. Etc., etc.

      Attention all web developers: please read this [diveintoac...bility.org] and think about how broad the range of web users truly is.

      (Oh, and if you don't give a flying fark about blind people or phones -- moving your style instructions from the HTML into CSS files will cut down on the total volume of info your users have to download by an order of magnitude, reducing your bandwidth costs.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Alomex (148003)

      The problem comes when languages got religion. Lisp went from a list based language to list based syntax jihad. Ditto for Pascal and his strictly enforced strongly typed functions and Java and its everything-is-an-object global-variables-are-forbidden jihad.

      SGML as well as the newer versions of HTML are in a format-is-100%-orthogonal-to-content jihad.

      Notice that all of the principles listed above are good and correct. The problem comes from emforcing them too strictly.

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday July 20, 2007 @11:43AM (#19927647)
    HTML 5 won't matter until Microsoft almost handles it in Internet Explorer. I'd guess that might happen 5 years after the standard is adopted.
  • by leighklotz (192300) on Friday July 20, 2007 @02:03PM (#19929893) Homepage
    W3C was formed to create a "consortium" not only of browser makers, but also tool vendors and other major HTML users. The W3C explicitly differed from IETF in having members pay dues (and hefty ones for big companies), and in having more structure, though still less than real standards bodies such as ISO.

    One of the goals was to make sure that all the players had a voice, not just the browser vendors.

    Well, everybody got together and decided to design something that had clear semantics, well-defined behavior, and was modular. CSS came out of this, and XHTML came out of this. Netscape didn't like CSS, so Microsoft did. Then Netscape capitulated on CSS, then it folded.

    Then nothing happened. For a long, long time. (You may recall this period.)

    Opera was founded by Hakon Lie Waum, and it found a great niche market in embedded browsers, but getting there required it to be "IE5 bug compatible," at a tremendous engineering effort.

    Then a bunch of other companies came along and started making browsers and tools and middleware and all sorts of stuff that implemented the plethora of W3C modules, and started to target enterprise customers and mobile phone vendors with products implementing XHTML Basic (which replaced WAP/WML in short order), SVG (which made Flash be stillborn in the phone market), XForms (which appeals mostly now to vendors who can control the middleware, but gives them the AJAX advantage without browser dependence). It became clear to the now old-guard browser vendors that if they didn't do something to enshrine "IE5 bug compatibility" in HTML, it was going to be subsumed by new, easier to implement standards, probably starting from the cell phone and enterprise markets, but pushing out into full consumer/open web markets from there.

    So, they created a crisis by starting their own parallel standards group and threatening W3C. The keep this threat up, and use the same kind of populist appeal and divisiveness we see in US politics to stir up hatred and polarization, all the while keeping the parallel work on the forefront.

    All I can say at this point is that you should be prepared for JavaScript to become the language of expression on the web, with markup languages being reduced to a graphics library for scribbling on screens.

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach

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