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HTML 5 - Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG)
Earlier this year, the W3C chartered a new HTML Working Group. It's an endorsement of the WHATWG's work, and an admission that HTML as the foundation of the web is going nowhere for the foreseeable future. Further reinforcing that idea was the proposal made by representatives of Apple, Opera and Mozilla to adopt the WHATWG's HTML 5 specification as a starting point for work within the W3C. This was voted on and accepted by a large majority, meaning that the years of work carried out by the WHATWG will be taken forward into the W3C.

“Abstract- W3C

This specification defines the 5th major revision of the core language of the World Wide Web, HTML. In this version, new features are introduced to help Web application authors, new elements are introduced based on research into prevailing authoring practices, and special attention has been given to defining clear conformance criteria for user agents in an effort to improve interoperability. “

Also of note regarding the new Working Group Charter is the unprecedented requirement that it's open to anyone interested in contributing to the process. Microsoft's Chris Witson (product manager of IE) and the W3C's Dan Connolly chair the Working Group, which contains representatives from major browser vendors and W3C members, as well as a host of independent developers. It's open to anyone, so if you have strong feelings about the direction the group is taking, you can subscribe to the mailing list and get involved.

Why do we need HTML 5?

HTML is the lingua franca of the web — without it, there would be nothing. The W3C decided some years ago that the future of the web was XML, and put together a group to work on XHTML — a reformulation of HTML as XML. Initially popular among developers, XHTML has been leading a charmed life. Browser makers haven't embraced it: IE in particular doesn't support XHTML documents served with the application/xhtml+xml MIME type, so any XHTML documents sent to it are treated as normal HTML and the advantages that XHTML is supposed to bring are not evident.

The long-term future of XHTML isn't clear. XHTML 2, now in working draft, is controversial because it's not backward-compatible. It's a new markup language that cannot be used in any current browsers, and many see it as irrelevant.

The W3C has now come to the same conclusion as the WHATWG: it's necessary to develop HTML alongside XHTML. Work on XHTML hasn't stopped, but is running parallel to the development of HTML-- the language that developers need today.

We can expect many new features in HTML 5.

Notable are the new block-level elements: section, header, footer, nay and article. These enable authors to mark up documents with more structure than with non-semantic div elements. There's also a host of new semantic inline elements, including time, meter and progress. All these are improving HTML in an incremental, backward-compatible way.

They degrade gracefully in today's browsers, and move HTML forward from its roots as a scientific document markup language.

More controversial is the inclusion of numerous presentational elements, such as i and b. The theory is that if these elements were not included in browser implementations, less knowledgeable authors would abuse elements such as strong and em to give presentational effects when they should be used as semantic devices.

Of course, what's exciting about the new HTML WG is that if you don't think these presentational elements should be in HTML 5, or you're desperate for some feature you think everyone has forgotten about, you're free to join the Working Group and get involved in the discussion. This is a significant step for the W3C to make, and I believe it's the right one. We're used to listening to people complain about the closed decision-making process that has historically gone on inside the W3C. Now I point these people in the direction of the sign-up forms: stop moaning and do something about it.

For more information on this please visit when you can subscribe to there newsletter or make comments about this.
Webnetics UK Ltd.

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