XHTML2 is dead, long live HTML5

The W3 has announced today that the XHTML 2 working group will not be rechartered after its current charter expires at the end of 2009.

In many respects, this is not unexpected, and given the direction HTML5, and browsers have been taking, XHTML2 was looking like an increasingly theoretical, however worthwhile enterprise.

One of the lessons the web continues to teach us is that it values pragmatic development over theoretical perfection.

XHTML itself is not dead on the web – HTML5 has an XHTML version, which when served as application/xml or application/xml+xhtml must be treated by parsers as XML.

And parts of XHTML2, like section and the sectioning model are also part of HTML5.

Personally, I much prefer the modular nature of the XHTML2 specification (and CSS3 as well), to the monolithic HTML5 specification, which I’ve recently spent a considerable amount of time dissecting for an upcoming book. Having read in detail many specifications, I must say I find the quality of the current HTML5 specification lacking in comparison with other W3 specifications. Yes, it’s still in draft, but many sections are in last call for comments stage, and really need considerable work. A modular approach to developing the spec (which we are in effect seeing to an extent with the spinning out of some parts of what was initially part of HTML5) I think would definitely benefit the effort.

There’s a lively conversation over at zeldman.com with excellent input, particularly from Tantek Çelik, who has been involved with the development of CSS and HTML for many years.

6 responses to “XHTML2 is dead, long live HTML5”:

  1. Hi John,
    It would be useful if you could elaborate on which sections in HTML5 that you feel are in need of work so that we can get the issues resolved.

  2. Hi Lachlan,

    I’m hard at work on a constructive critique that I’ll publish soon.

    My concerns about the semantic model and lack of any even simple extensibility are outlined in detail here


    Now, despite what my twitter stream may indicate


    I am far from against HTML5.

    I’ll publish more soon



  3. […] Voir XHTML2 is DEAD — http://www.webdirections.org/blog/xhtml2-is-dead-long-live-html5/ […]

  4. Selecting what kind of gift to a friend is a big bore to most people, especially to your fashion girlfriends.

  5. […] who you ask.1 Comment • Insert a dynamic date hereWork on XHTML 2.0 has been discontinued: http://www.webdirections.org/blo…Simon Willison • Insert a dynamic date hereView 1 CommentCannot add comment at this […]

  6. […] the work on the HTML5 spec is now happening within the W3C.Work on XHTML 2.0 has been discontinued: http://www.webdirections.org/blohttp://diveintohtml5.org/past.html is a superb explanation of exactly how all of this came to […]