Anne van Kesteren

WHATWG is alive again (HTML 5.0!)

After doing some translation work for Mozilla Europe it's time for markup again. Actually, I might get involved a bit more in MozillaNL and (than I am already) but markup remains important. Since the copyright issue is finally resolved Ian Hickson can get his hands on editing the specification again.

Since the license issue was resolved the mailing list discussions continued again and some old thread I started about HTML 5.0 was brought up again. The Web Applications 1.0 specification is basically HTML 5.0 in progress, with the notable exception of the Web Forms 2.0 specification of course.

Besides HTML other things are standardized as well, since you can't rely on HTML alone these days. Very interesting is that XMLHttpRequest is part of the Web Application draft, which is originally a Microsoft invention. Other interesting things include an example in chapter 2 about the difference between conforming and only being syntactically correct.

Of course, in the Netherlands we don't need such example now our government has released guidelines for websites. And although those are theoretically aimed at government sites, they are very generally written, I can say, after having read some of them.


  1. Pardon me for not seeing the point of HTML5.0. I see XHTML as the rightful heir of HTML. Development should move in the direction of structured applications, not step back into the dribble of tag soup horror. Here we go again: HTML5.0 is a step backward.

    Posted by Hayo at

  2. It's nonsense to say that HTML can't provide structure, semantics or whatever. XHTML is just more restrictive and a step towards XML. And to say that only XHTML encourages structure is ludicrous. The validator won't tell you if the code makes sense.

    Posted by Rob Mientjes at

  3. There could be a place for what you call HTML 5.0 but it needs to be submitted to a standards body and approved by them once it is finished before we can start using it.

    Posted by Peter Winnberg at

  4. I don't know if you've noticed, Hayo, but most "XHTML" sites are tag soup, too.

    Posted by Ian Eure at

  5. Let's not ignore, also, that XHTML 2.0 removes more useful features than it adds in some areas. I may not like HTML's form elements, but I sure like them more than XForms.

    Posted by J. King at

  6. Ian, that's true, I noticed. Yet when you properly use XHTML, it is a lot harder to make tomato soup. I was hoping that with XHTML we were heading towards a stricter web. Yet with things like HTML5, it's like saying 'it's okay to make a mess'. My opinion anyway.

    Posted by Hayo at

  7. I think it's saying the W3C is not in touch with reality.

    Posted by Frenzie at

  8. I really want to start building an IE implementation of Web Forms 2.0 in the new year.

    For the time being you’ll have to make do with these demos.

    Posted by Dean Edwards at

  9. Oh my goodness, way to stay on top of things, Dean!

    Posted by Evan at

  10. Honestly, Hayo, how does HTML == mess while XHTML != mess?

    HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.0 are for all intents and purposes identical. "HTML5" doesn't aim to make a mess out of things: it aims to add features and semantics that authors have expressed a legitimate need for. It may not try and achieve the same form of supposed purity that XHTML 2.0 is after, but that doesn't automatically mean that it exists to promote HTML being a mess.

    Posted by J. King at

  11. Hayo, instead of flaming about "old" topics you might want to read the specification and see that the namespace is extended as well. However, that's not the interesting news, since Internet Explorer doesn't XHTML.

    We all know you should not give a PNG image an image/gif MIME type.

    Posted by Anne at

  12. It's all about the mime type. If XHTML were served purely as XML, it would have to be properly coded (no missing end tags etc). But HTML is always served as 'text/html', which allows for anything to go in. I had some broken code the other day that didn't have the body tag (as it was being generated by the server, but the code stopped before it finished the page) yet it still displayed okay! I was surprised to see my browser, Opera 7, style the body using a background image I had put in, even though there was no body tag! Clearly the browser had 'filled in the gaps' in my code. Indeed it's possible to write pure text without any tags, and it will be displayed. Or write a page and miss out key tags like <html> and <head> and it still works. So it follows that HTML 5 will also allow this tag-soup. Whereas XHTML served as XML would not.

    Posted by Chris Hester posting on Firefox due to an Opera entities bug! at

  13. Well, if one XHTML site served with a proper mimetype has an error like that in the code, then it won't display on Opera or Mozilla without viewing the source code. When I then open it in IE, despite the error I can still view it (unless there's no text/html alternative for IE). I doubt very much if the user should be punished like that for a small mistake. I don't think the user is the place where such an error should display.

    Posted by Frenzie at

  14. I was surprised to see my browser, Opera 7, style the body using a background image I had put in, even though there was no body tag! Clearly the browser had 'filled in the gaps' in my code.

    It's not a gap as you put it. Leaving the BODY-tags is optional. A (conforming?) SGML-parser should know that a HTML-document always has a BODY-element.

    So it follows that HTML 5 will also allow this tag-soup

    It's not tagsoup. Leaving tags or leaving elements is not the same.

    Posted by Jerome at

  15. Chris, as Jerome points out, that is a part of HTML. If you don't know what HTML is about I doubt if you can/may criticize it's use.

    For example see Limpid and for two perfectly valid HTML sites that omit tags that are not needed. If you look in the DOM of those sites, you will see they have all the elements that are required by the specification.

    Posted by Anne at

  16. A little question from my side, if someone doesn't use any adition which you could use with XHTML (since it is XML) by using namespaces or anything like that and stays with the XHTML itself, in that case HTML 5.0 is more complete?

    Posted by Yorian van Leeuwen at

  17. In that case HTML is more appropriate.

    Posted by Anne at