Trying to Follow the HTML Crisis

I’ve been lost over the last few days trying to understand the differing opinions on the status of the next generation of HTML code. Molly, who I’ve had the good fortune to meet and whose opinion I respect, raised the alarm about the state of the W3C development. Jeffrey Zeldman whose article “To Hell With Bad Browsers” kicked off the movement for standards-based web development doesn’t see a crisis at all.

It is pretty clear that something has been going on given the sobering testimonial of Roger Johansson who explained why he abandoned and then rejoined the W3C’s HTML Working Group.

Aside from trying to follow the problems (or lack thereof), I’ve been trying to sort out what the next generation of HTML is supposed to be. A few years ago, I convinced my company to standardize on XHTML. We worked our way through the rendering issues and finally had XHTML adoption throughout the organization.

Which is why I’ve been ignoring HTML 5. I drank the kool aid on XHTML, why would I go back to HTML now?

Seeing so much concern over HTML 5 today by the same people who advocated XHTML confused me greatly. What happened to XHTML 2.0? Why are we going back to HTML?

Come to find out, I missed a change at some point. I remember a lot of concern about XHTML 2.0 being unwieldy and a radical departure from HTML and XHTML 1.0, but I didn’t follow the outcome of those discussions fully.

Turns out HTML 5 is the agreed upon next step for both HTML and XHTML. HTML 5 is designed to resolve the issues between HTML and XHTML and converge them into one specification. While I still have some concerns about dropping the requirement or preference for well-formed markup, I’m now more reassured about the direction our core web technology is headed.

The new elements in HTML 5 sound  like improvements. The example of next generation web forms is too good to be true. The clarification of HTML 5 that those participating in the development of the specification have agreed to will be a welcome change and will hopefully prevent someone else from having to do the research I did to sort through the standards mishmash.

Molly’s call for action may have been more alarmist than it needed to be, but there have been some good outcomes from the discussion. If nothing else, I’m now excited about the potential of HTML 5 and finally understand that XHTML isn’t going away anytime soon.