OK there’s a lot of conversation in the web standards community about the W3C scrapping of the XHTML 2 specification but consider this a realignment, not a revolutionary leap. In fact, considering the amount of resources that can now be plowed into the HTML 5 Working Group from this point forward, there may be good reason to drink a few rums and have a little dance. Why? Because XHTML 2 collected good ideas without the future potential to realise them. It was a shot duck.
So all is not lost in the land of standardista code whores – XHTML 1.0 will remain supported in the long term, HTML will evolve into the HTML 5 specification, and there will be an XML serialisation of HTML 5 called XHTML 5. As I understand it, if you deliver pages as a html mime type then it will be HTML 5. And if you want to use XHTML 5 then it has to be delivered as an xml mime type. Which, in a way, solves a lot of fundamental disputes about the current XHTML delivery options.
From my gut here’s the take… what we need to accept is that specifications need to be advanced that take us further down the road towards a better web experience for industry and our business clients. Its that simple. Anyone who believed for a second they would learn HTML or XHTML and it was all over then they were sadly mistaken, computing is a career path with a constant learning curve that we have to accept. So when anybody gets tired of the learning curves then I’d suggest its time to get off the fast tram and go into management (just an idea).
Rather than hit you up with a diatribe of regurgitated waffle pretending that I know what I’m talking about, I’d suggest you spend some time this week catching up to the conversation yourselves. Its not a one-way thing, you need to read and come to your own conclusions. But the fact is this is the direction we’re going. Nothing will stop you writing good code that makes semantic sense and which degrades gracefully in older browsers – your methodologies need not change. The following articles should offer you more insight: XHTML DOA WTF by Jeffery Zeldman, RIP XHTML 2 on Sitepoint, and An unofficial Q&A by Henry Sivonen.
You might also find time to start getting keyed up on HTML 5 starting with A Preview of HTML 5 by Lachlan Hunt, Semantics in HTML 5 by John Allsopp, and the HTML 5 Cheat Sheet available on Smashing Magazine.
I guess the only words I can add to this post and the conversation is that XHTML 2 was a shot duck because it was never going to actually go anywhere, regardless of the high ideals. I do however feel that HTML 5 needs extensibility… but you can’t have everything that everybody wants in any single specification. By the time HTML 5 hits the mainstream we’ll be working on other future specifications with brand new needs and market drivers at play. So stand up to the challenge… and ciao XHTML 2… hello HTML 5.
Update: 8 July, 2009
Jeffrey Zeldman’s post today In defense of web developers is also well worth the read. He points out this is not a time for gloating about any death of XHTML proper because XHTML 1.0 will continue to work as it is into the future, this is just the end of XHTML 2 which was not going anywhere.
Its interesting in Zeldman’s comments to see the twisted and embittered anti-XHTML comment trolls kicking away in their glee, some I recognise from several years ago (Rimantas, for example). I’d just say to the trolls, get a life because if you’re still psychotically losing sleep this far down the track you’ve got work-life issues beyond any specification. Troll plus abuse equals marginalisation – don’t complain nobody listens if you call them an idiot coming out of the box.
Update: 9 July, 2009
Put most eloquently by Jeremy Keith – Misunderstanding markup. Well worth a read if you’ve got three minutes.