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.