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Created: July 22, 2004.
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W3C HTML Working Group Publishes Updated XHTML 2.0 Draft and XHTML FAQ.

Members of the W3C HTML Working Group have released a sixth XHTML 2.0 Working Draft and a new HTML and XHTML Frequently Answered Questions.

XHTML 2 is a "general purpose markup language designed for representing documents for a wide range of purposes across the World Wide Web. A modularized language without presentation elements, XHTML 2 takes HTML back to its roots in document structuring."

XHTML 2 supplies a "generally useful set of markup elements with the possibility of extension using the class attribute on the span and div elements in combination with stylesheets, and attributes from the metadata attributes collection."

The current Working Draft version includes an early implementation of XHTML 2.0 in RELAX NG. The Working Group intends to include implementations in DTD and/or XML Schema form in subsequent versions "once the content of the language stabilizes."

Although XHTML 2.0 is a next generation markup language, its functionality is expected to remain similar to that of XHTML 1.1. "However, the markup language may be altered semantically and syntactically to conform to the requirements of related XML standards such as XML Base and XML Schema. The objective of these changes is to ensure that XHTML 2.0 can be readily supported by XML browsers that have no arcane knowledge of XHTML semantics such as linking, image maps, forms, etc."

Bibliographic Information

XHTML 2 Design Aims

"In designing XHTML 2, a number of design aims were kept in mind:

  • Design as generic XML: if a facility exists in XML, try to use that rather than duplicating it
  • Less presentation, more structure: use stylesheets for defining presentation
  • More usability: within the constraints of XML, try to make the language easy to write, and make the resulting documents easy to use
  • More accessibility: some call it 'designing for our future selves' — the design should be as inclusive as possible
  • Better internationalization — it is a World Wide Web
  • More device independence: new devices coming online, such as telephones, PDAs, tablets, televisions and so on mean that it's imperative to have a design that allows you to author once and render in different ways on different devices, rather than authoring new versions of the document for each type of device
  • Less scripting: achieving functionality through scripting is difficult for the author and restricts the type of user agent you can use to view the document; we have tried to identify current typical usage, and include those usages in markup..." [adapted from Section 1.1.1]

Gleanings from the XHTML FAQ Document

  • Why XHTML 2? "HTML and XHTML [1] have done good service, but there are many things that can be improved. Areas that have received particular attention include better structuring possibilities, removing features that are duplicated in XML, usability, accessibility, internationalization, device independence, better forms, and reducing the need for scripting..."

  • Is <img> being replaced by <object> in XHTML2? No, use src="" — in XHTML2 you can put a src attribute on any element at all.

    "The design of <img> has many problems in HTML: (1) It has no fallback possibilities, so that if you use an image of type PNG for instance, and the browser can't handle that type, the only alternative is to use the alt text. This fact has hampered the adoption of PNG images, which in many ways are better than GIF and JPG, since people have continued to use the lowest-common denominator format, to ensure that everyone can see the images. (2) The alt text cannot be marked up, so that if it gets used, you just get the plain text. (3) It is possible to include a longdesc link to a description of the image, to help people who cannot see, but it is seldom implemented. What XHTML2 does is say that all images are equivalent to some piece of content; it does this by allowing you to put a src attribute on any element at all. What this says is: if the image is available, and the browser can process it, use it, otherwise use the content of the element. For instance: <p src="map.png">Exit from the station</p>... The advantage of this is that if the image is not available for some reason (such as network failure) or the browser can't render that sort of image, your document is still usable..."

  • Why doesn't XHTML2 use XLink? "XLink and XHTML had different requirements for linking that turned out not to be reconcilable."

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