Recognizing the importance of an open forum for the development of the predominant Web content technology, the W3C has invited browser vendors, application developers and content designers to help design the next version of HTML by participating in the new W3C HTML Working Group, according to a W3C statement. Based on significant input from the design and developer communities within and outside the W3C membership, the organization has chartered the group to conduct its work in public and to solicit broad participation from W3C members and non-members alike.
“HTML started simply, with structured markup, no licensing requirements, and the ability to link to anything. More than anything, this simplicity and openness has led to its tremendous and continued success,” explained Tim Berners-Lee, W3C director and inventor of HTML. “It’s time to revisit the standard and see what we can do to meet the current community needs, and to do so effectively with commitments from browser manufacturers in a visible and open way.”
The Evolution of HTML
After the publication of HTML 4, and following a 1998 Workshop, W3C set forth to turn HTML into an XML-based format, called XHTML, due to the benefits of XML formats, the organization statement continues. The first full XHTML recommendation was issued in early 2000. But due to the significant legacy of Web content that is some variant of HTML, traditional browser vendors moved slowly to adopt XHTML. This, in turn, has meant little motivation for content developers to adopt XHTML for the traditional desktop environment. Leaders in the Web developer and design communities therefore urged W3C to renew its commitment to HTML by adding new features (starting with the HTML 4 standard) in a manner that is consistent with community practice and backward compatible. W3C, the organization says, will help ensure interoperability by making robust test suites and validation services available to the community for future technologies.
W3C says it is pleased to relaunch work on HTML with support from its members and more staff resources (including people and hardware). W3C has tailored the HTML Working Group Charter to enable active participation from browser vendors, application designers and content developers, whose joint participation is key to the success of the future HTML.
The Value of XHTML
XHTML has proven valuable in other markets, says the organization statement, including the market for mobile devices, in enterprise applications, on the server side, and in an increasing number of Web applications such as blogging software. For example, the Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group has included XHTML Basic as a cornerstone of the Mobile Web Best Practices because software running in less memory can support it. The markets for XML content are significant and growing, so W3C will define an XML syntax for the new HTML in addition to the classic HTML syntax.
One design aim for XHTML 2.0 has been to keep it as generic as possible, reusing applicable XML standards, including XForms, XML Base and XML Events, instead of HTML features that served similar purposes. Those design choices have led to XHTML 2.0 having an identity distinct from HTML. With the chartering of the XHTML 2 Working Group, the organization says, W3C will continue its technical work on the language at the same time it considers rebranding the technology to clarify its independence and value in the marketplace.
In addition to the new HTML and XHTML 2 Working Groups, W3C is rechartering the Hypertext Coordination Group and the Forms Working Group. The Forms Working Group will continue work on the XForms architecture, which has seen significant adoption in a variety of platforms.
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