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Posted on 2009-07-10

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A mouthy blogger over at lockergnome has posted claiming that HTML5 spells the death of XHTML. The original article, including its lolcat picture proclaiming "HTML CAN NOT DO THAT!!!1!!", claim that we "had to see this one coming". Apparently this guy is not alone in misunderstanding what the W3C is actually doing.

Infact XHTML is far from dead, it has just been slightly reinvented, developed along side HTML 5, and being called XHTML 5. The decision to abandon the XHTML 2 specification came about when the major browser vendors argued it was too document centric, meaning it was great for making semantic documents that can be understood by any device that could grok XML, but would be very difficult to use for modern browsing activities such as forums and e-commerce. A lot of the new functionality from XHTML 2 actually exists in HTML 5 specification, just in a slightly different fashion for example, instead of adding the attribute "role" to the div tag, new tags were invented such as "aside" to be used in place of the div with the role attribute. The WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group), formed by the major browser vendors, makes recommendations about what they would like to see included in the next evolution of HTML. The W3C decided when they started building HTML 5 that it would not continue to be based on SGML, including dropping the doctype (a simple doctype of "html" will be used for compatibility with doctype dependant browsers). The difference between HTML 5 and XHTML 5 will not be in the features supported, such as the canvas and video tags, but by the actual semantics of the markup. HTML 5 will be flexible in how the browsers handle incorrect markup, whereas the XHTML 5 standard specifies that incorrect markup must be ignored. Thankfully, the HTML 5 specification will be very specific about how the elements must be implemented, so that the same markup will render the same way in all compliant browsers, rather than the mishmash of hacks you have to apply now to get the same page to look relatively similar in all the major browsers.

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Posted on 2009-07-09

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