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Where is the "coding base" of the web headed?
Will it eventually phase over to XML/XHTML?
Wertigon




msg:561990
 8:45 pm on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have been trying to answer myself this question for quite some while, and I still don't know either in or out. I don't know if I'm correct or not, and thus the reason why I post the question here.

This is what I think will happen; Note that I might be right, or might be completely deluded by the propaganda being fed to me, I have no idea. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. :)

Anyhow, the way I see it the web will at some time in the future move on to XML. It may not happen for years yet; But eventually it *will* happen.

Why? Well, consider the fact that Microsoft is using more and more XML in their applications. If I'm not mistaken, Office 2003 already uses it, and Visual Studio.NET and Longhorn will use it as well as the primary way of exchanging information internally. A few years down the road people will then think "... Wait a second... So now IE supports my Word documents seamlessly? And all other browsers does too? WAY COOL! X-D" and start use XML more and more. This in turn will lead to a more seamlessly integrated web. Like it or not, for better or worse, I think Longhorn will push the web a great deal closer towards XML and well-formedness.

And once documents starts getting well-formed, well, what's the reason in keeping old, bad and malformed HTML left? Thus HTML pages which doesn't validate will slowly dissapear out of focus; And browser manufacturers, in order to stay in competition and have the fastest and most "slimmed" browser on the market, will drop more and more support for malformed HTML. They might have some mercy for pages that validate, but that support too might eventually get dropped. And that's how HTML will eventually be phased out.

So am I right, or should I lay off that crack pipe and get out some more? I think only the future can provide the answer to that... In the meanwhile, anyone care to give some input to a confused mind? ;)

 

Mohamed_E




msg:561991
 9:12 pm on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

There are immense amounts of malformed HTML on the web, much of them containing useful and static material. Much as they may not want to, browser vendors will have to support it for a very long time.

How much COBOL code is still out there, leading a useful and productive life? :)

ProfMoriarty




msg:561992
 9:12 pm on Sep 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hello Vertigon,

nice and interesting topic!

Like it or not, for better or worse, I think Longhorn will push the web a great deal closer towards XML and well-formedness.

Well, I really doubt that new OS like Longhorn will move any website-coder to use well-formed HTML/XHTML/XML. Why? I assume that the OS internal use of XML is hidden to the big number of users and the others may already know the benefits of XML - and these ones may need other arguments than new operating system use it for internal data exchange.

Thus HTML pages which doesn't validate will slowly dissapear out of focus; And browser manufacturers, in order to stay in competition and have the fastest and most "slimmed" browser on the market, will drop more and more support for malformed HTML. They might have some mercy for pages that validate, but that support too might eventually get dropped. And that's how HTML will eventually be phased out.

Whatīs the horizon? Three years? Five years? Ten years? Think of how sensational it is when big sites change to tableless css-based layouts and donīt care for NS4 et al. How long did this step take? Another point is the fact, that well-formed html is still quite easy in comparison to xhtml 2.0 (e.g. the "l"-tag) - and remember the general data overhead of xml-data.

To come to an end: Let all web-citizens take the first step before taking the third. Thatīs using all fifth generation browsers only displaying css-based tableless layouted sites, then let everybody code valid _H_TML - letīs see if itīs 2005 or rather 2010. XML will be the future of the web, but not the nearest.

Just my 2 cents,

ProfMoriarty

Wertigon




msg:561993
 8:14 am on Sep 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yes, you are correct that in the near future it'll not mean a great deal, and for now you should spend more time worrying about CSS layouts, getting your code to validate, accessibility issues etc. But in 20 years, who can tell?

I am aware that HTML will be around for a *long* time - But I don't think it'll be around forever, and I think that once companies starts realising that Longhorn actually runs on XML they'll start taking advantage of that, in one way or another. Your average user won't really see much of it at all, atleast not for quite some time.

Like I said, Longhorn will probably be one of the biggest factors when it comes to XML:ing the web. That saying, Longhorn won't be the *only* factor. Just one of several.

And it's not the coders that will get this change to come; Coders are generally a conservative and lazy bunch who doesn't wish to change their habits unless there are clear benefits in doing so. I know, I'm one of 'em. ;)

korkus2000




msg:561994
 1:08 pm on Sep 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

XML is a natural pergression. A lot of open source has been using it for a while. .Net was a great push for XML since it basically communicates in xml. Databases have been using it for a while also. HTML is moving towards an XML future while css is moving towards a more XSL future. HTML will be legacy, but supported as XHTML.

Wertigon




msg:561995
 1:46 pm on Sep 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

But won't that mean that pages has to validate? Since unvalidated XHTML will break?

Mohamed_E




msg:561996
 1:56 pm on Sep 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

There is a fundamental chicken and egg problem with forcing validation (or migration to a new language).

As long as many pages are invalid browsers cannot afford to require valid code.

As long as browsers do not require valid code there is no motivation for those involved (whether hand coders or producers of WYSWIG editors) to care about it.

That is why I am pretty sure that even grossly invalid code will be around for a long time.

<edit>Fixed typo.</edit>

[edited by: Mohamed_E at 3:13 pm (utc) on Sep. 16, 2003]

korkus2000




msg:561997
 2:10 pm on Sep 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just as we grandfather NN4 code, I think browsers will grandfather invalid code for a long time. It will start hurting the sites as new technology comes out. Valid code is important now and is only become more crucial.

drbrain




msg:561998
 4:48 pm on Sep 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

IF you tell Gecko browsers that your page is XML (give an XML MIME type) you are required to have a well-formed page. If your page is not well-formed (or has undefined entities), you get an error. Gecko does not contain a validating parser, so it does not check for validity.

There is a problem holding up use of XML: IE can't understand it, so authors must use XHTML with a text/html MIME type.

Since IE understands onlf text/html, not XML MIME types, web authors will get bitten hard if IE ever enforces content types. I don't believe Microsoft will do that for quite some time, people complained during the IE6 betas that featured all the strict parsing.

mattur




msg:561999
 9:19 pm on Sep 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't think the web as we know it will move over to xml, but the web's replacement probably will be xml based. SOAP seems good like a good contender as a component technology.

Trying to make humans and machine use the same pages was always a bizarre idea. For example, humans usually want to page through a long list of data. A machine just wants all the data, and having to page through the data just slows it down. So why compromise? Give the humans pages designed for humans (and their buggy browsers, the swine;))and give machines a SOAP interface.

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