The Future of HTML: XHTML 2.0


XHTML 2.0 is the W3C's effort to fix inherent problems with HTML and to meet the growing requirements of web-based solutions. XHTML 2.0 takes the move toward XML to the next level and will try to acheive the following design goals:

  • Use XML as much as possible: Where a language feature already exists in XML, don't duplicate or reinvent it.
  • Structure over presentation: Thanks to CSS stylesheets, you no longer need explicitly presentational tags in HTML.
  • Make HTML easier to write: Remove some of the needless idiosyncrasies of HTML.
  • More accessibility, device independence: Make as few assumptions as possible about the way a document will be read.
  • Improved internationalization.
  • Better forms: Long overdue improvements are required!
  • Reduce the need for scripting: Include typical scripting usages in HTML itself.
  • Better semantics: Make it easier to integrate HTML with semantic Web applications.

Of particular interest to me is the goal of XHTML 2.0 to provide a declarative format for specifying user interfaces in a similar way to Mozilla's XUL or Microsoft's XAML. W3C will also define XBL2, a declarative language that provides a binding between custom markup and existing technologies. XBL2 will essentially give programmers a way to write new widgets for Web applications.

If you want to prepare yourself for the future an article on IBM Developer Works suggests the following:

  • Get serious about using CSS, and try to remove all presentational markup.
  • Think about how you can deploy microformats in your pages. (Microformats are a way to make human-readable elements in Web pages carry semantics that computers can interpret too. They are a bridge between today's HTML-based ad-hoc semantics and tomorrow's RDF-compatible XHTML 2.0 metadata.)
  • If you've not done so already, get experience with XHTML 1.0.
  • Experiment with the X-Smiles browser, an experimental platform with early support for many of the W3C's new client technologies such as XHTML 2.0, SVG, XForms, and SMIL 2.0 Basic capabilities.
  • If you create new client systems based on XHTML-like functionality, seriously consider using XHTML 2.0 as your starting point.

XHTML 2.0 is not likely to become a W3C Recommendation until 2007, according to W3C HTML Working Group Roadmap. Now is the time to start reading and experimenting with XHTML 2.0 – and prepare for the future!

For the full article from IBM Developer Works click here.

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