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XHTML 2 vs HTML 5: let'em clash!

What do webmasters have to say about the future of the Web?

11:49 pm on Aug 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Straigth into the topic: within the W3C there is work in progress in two separate successors for HTML4.x / XHTML1.x:
XHTML 2.0 [w3.org] bids for a revolutionary and entirely breaking approach, redefining the language from zero as an XML application.
HTML 5 [whatwg.org], on the other hand, takes an incremental approach bidding for backwards compatibility and homogeneus error handling.

If you ask Google [google.com], it spits out roughly 80k answers to the issue in less than half a second (fortunatelly, you can check only those that appeal you, and you can take as long as you want to review them ;) )

Whatever happens there, it will surely affect us, the webmasters. And what a better place to discuss the topic that at Webmaster World?

Basic guidelines: this is mostly common sense, but I think some points should be stated out.

This is a debate, not some sort of exam: feel free to say what you think and, especially, why do you think so. There is no goal of achieving any "consensus" or common ground, the only goal is to gather as many opinions as possible, so we all end up with a bigger picture of the whole topic.

This is a debate, not a battlefield: this topic is already polarizing in several sectors, and a debate like this might start heating up as soon as there are a few members on each side. I think it's worth to remind here the point 14 of the ToS [webmasterworld.com]:

14. Please keep your language clean and decent. This include personal inflammatory language as well as obscenities.

As a general suggestion: if the discussion is too heated, preview your posts and read them; then decide whether to hit "Submit" or go to take a cold shower and rewrite the post afterwards.

This is not a competition: it's unlikely that we will be changing anything from this thread, so don't get obsessed. There are no winers and losers in this debate: if we end up with a deeper understanding of the goings-on of the process then we all win; if we end up with everybody being upset or angry, or we manage to get this thread blocked due to uncivilized behaviour, then we all lose.

In summary, try to exercise your freedom of opinion and speech, and make your best to respect these freedoms' of others.

Ready? GO!

5:44 pm on Nov 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Don't get me started on the Semantic Web... ;)

LOL, I would avoid the topic if I could, but it is at the core of what I am talking about I think.
How am I supposed to make websites where the topics, articles, etc. etc. in other words all text (and images I suppose) are marked up in such a way that in -let us take a big margin- 50 years time intelligent webbots can assist me (or rather my descendants) in their searches on the web.
I know, it is dangerous to paint a picture of the future. 50 years from now the internet may look completely different, or may not exist at all any more. But let us consider the possibility that the internet will follow some scenario we can anticipate based on past experience and present knowledge.
Today we limit the HTML spec because it MUST be backwards compatible, project that point of view into the future. So in 50 years time we have an internet filled with 70+ years of knowledge (and nonsense) stored in a tag-soup which nobody and nothing can retrieve. Today you search Google on "frogs" and you get 15.000.000 hits. In 50 years time you will get a million fold of that. And Google will no more be able to make soup of tags than anything else. Why? because nothing can be marked up consistently and in a "it makes sense" kind of way. Only because in 2010 we got an HTML spec that imprisoned human-language evolution on the web.

6:30 pm on Nov 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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We both agree that the HTML spec is where HTML should be specified. I think... ;)

It seems so. Now we only need to agree what HTML is. And if you think it is something else than a markup language, then we aren't likely to agree.

If by neutral language you mean non-technical language, you seem to be suggesting taking the spec bits out of the spec to make it a user reference, then putting the actual spec somewhere else(?)

No, that's not what I meant. I'll put a example, taken directly from the current HTML 5 spec. Take a look at [whatwg.org ]. The line saying
A string is a valid non-negative integer if it consists of one of more characters in the range U+0030 DIGIT ZERO (0) to U+0039 DIGIT NINE (9).

is quite technical, isn't it? And, IMHO, it's the kind of stuff that should make up a spec. Now, just after that, all the detailed algorythm on how to parse those strings, that's the kind of stuff I think is not part of the markup language's defintion itself (which is what the HTML spec should focus on).

It seems that we both agree that the spec should not be a user guide. Then why do you support the idea of making it an implementation guide instead? IMHO, the same reasons for the former apply to the latter.

You're arguing that not *one* single feature of HTML5 will be implemented because not *all* of CSS2 has been implemented.

Nop, I'm just saying that, based on what we have seen, it will take quite long before all major browsers (this includes all browsers and versions with a significant usage ration, not just "latest versions" or even "nightly builds") provide at least one of the new features in an interoperable way. And, for general web authoring, this is quite a need before such a feature can be relied upon, isn't it?
Of course, we can do lots of content negotiation, either in the server and/or in the client side; and end up giving each browser something different... but do we need a standard to do that? IMO, the point of a (web) standard is to provide some sort of "agreement" on what browsers should do, so you can rely on that working the same way on all the compliant browsers.

In the past 14 years browsers have added a lot of new features including tables, frames, formatting tags, SSL, cookies, Javascript, CSS and XMLHttpRequest.

And how long has it taken to get most of these working in a sane way cross-browser? Tables, SSL, and maybe frames, are the "best" supported ones; formatting tags still mess up differently with user settings on different browsers; cookies still do some weird things from time to time; Javascript is not really implemented by IE: they implement their own "JScript", that is mostly similar but gets completely broken when some obscure aspects are relied on; HMLHttpRequest requires explicit browser-detection tricks; and you'd better not get me started on current interoperability of CSS support... just take a look at the results on the Acid tests.

Do I think we'll see widespread browser support for at least one HTML5 feature in the next 14 years? Yes.

Me too, really! However, will we see interoperable support by all "modern" (still being used) browsers? I'm not so convinced of that.

Don't get me started on the Semantic Web... ;)

Oh, please, get. :P
Really: what do you have against authoring pages that search engines, assistive technologies, and other (often purpose-specific) tools can make sense of without relying on a human looking at and visually interpreting them?
9:13 pm on Nov 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hi Herenvardo,

I see what you mean. There's certainly been fierce debate over this in the past but the ECMAscript specs take a similar approach IIRC.

Regarding when we can use HTML5, I agree this is a long term thing. I predict we'll be able to start using it at some point after 2010 and before 2022 ;)

I think TimBL's Semantic Web is entirely feasible - we just need to upgrade everyone to Human2.0 first... [well.com]

This 63 message thread spans 3 pages: 63

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