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I don’t understand what these people are thinking. It was looking like finally things were looking up in the world of web development. I mean, even Microsoft was starting to come around, although IE7 still has many problems. But now I hear the W3C / WHATWG is working on a spec for the new version of HTML. Although this may sound like progress is being made, in my mind it is not.

HTML 5 introduces new elements to HTML for the first time since the last millennium. New structural elements include aside, figure, and section. New inline elements include time, meter, and progress. New embedding elements include video and audio. New interactive elements include details, datagrid, and command.

That’s not what the web needs. We don’t need more tags that aren’t necessarily going to be used. More tags with specific rendering requirements means more complex cross browser issues. Imagine how differently Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla are going to implement the progress element. These new, more complicated elements only make things worse for an already troubled set of browsers. There would be little excuse for companies like Microsoft if there were a much simpler way of dealing with markup.

The next thing that is really troubling me is that the new spec for HTML still supports old style markup. Remember the days of not closing your paragraph and option tags? This makes absolutely no sense to me. When XHTML was very exciting to me. It is more structured and forces people to write better (if only slightly) markup. Now, I know not everyone has time to be an expert web developer, but the way I see it, if you can’t do it well, don’t do it at all. People who don’t want to learn the markup language should just use a tool that generates it for them.

XHTML2 and this specification use different namespaces and therefore can both be implemented in the same XML processor.

So, basically what they’re saying here is that they are developing HTML5 in parallel to XHTML2. This is disturbing to me because there is even more room for error in the browser. They have to be able to parse different versions of markup. As it stands right now there are too many issues. Introducing more specifications is just going to make things worse.

At this point, HTML is a dead language to me. XHTML was a great idea and I think that it was a great first step toward the way the web should be. I think what we need is a completely dynamic markup language that gives the developer direct control over how elements are rendered. This would make things a lot easier for web developers and browsers like. This would create a single point of failure in the browsers. All they would have to do is follow the style rules put forth by the web developer. The web developer would be able to start with a clean slate (or, a template they have built previously) when building a site. There would be a lot fewer cross browser issues, and boy, wouldn’t that be something.

Sources:
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/html5/
http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/
http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/x-html5/

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One Comment

  1. “””All they would have to do is follow the style rules put forth by the web developer.”””
    Yeah that would be nice…

    I wonder when (if ever) HTML5 is usable (IE…) Why can’t they just make some standards that are more or less compatible with older browsers like the rel attribute. The rel attribute is a good example that some pre defined tags are never enough. This means HTML should be extensible.
    So you’re right, why having HTML when you can use XML and XHTML. The only reason could be that you don’t do valid markup.


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