Friday, October 27th, 2006

Another HTML group is born at W3C

Category: Announcements

Tim Berners-Lee has announced that another HTML working group will be formed:

Some things are clearer with hindsight of several years. It is necessary to evolve HTML incrementally. The attempt to get the world to switch to XML, including quotes around attribute values and slashes in empty tags and namespaces all at once didn’t work. The large HTML-generating public did not move, largely because the browsers didn’t complain. Some large communities did shift and are enjoying the fruits of well-formed systems, but not all. It is important to maintain HTML incrementally, as well as continuing a transition to well-formed world, and developing more power in that world.

The plan is to charter a completely new HTML group. Unlike the previous one, this one will be chartered to do incremental improvements to HTML, as also in parallel xHTML. It will have a different chair and staff contact. It will work on HTML and xHTML together. We have strong support for this group, from many people we have talked to, including browser makers.

There is also a plan for a separate group to work on the XHTML2 work which the old “HTML working group” was working on. There will be no dependency of HTML work on the XHTML2 work.

This is going to be hard work. I’d like everyone to go into this realizing this. I’ll be asking these groups to be very accountable, to have powerful issue tracking systems on the web site, and to be responsive in spirit as well as in letter to public comments.

Good luck to the new group. Hopefully politics will not be first in peoples minds, and the best thing for the users will win out.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 7:50 pm

3.8 rating from 33 votes


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Does he still not get it? Tag soup isn’t a bug, it’s a *feature*. Any WG that doesn’t get this is going to be hamstrung by trying to tie things to a less expressive or forgiving XML variant.

Standardizing parsing exception handling? Good. Mapping the world to XML with the hope that someday the Law of Notepad will be repealed? Dumb.

/me sighs

Comment by Alex Russell — October 27, 2006

*oh boy, look what the stork brought us honey*

*but what… what is it?*

*why my dear, it’s a bouncing new w3c working group*

Comment by henrah — October 28, 2006

HTML is so passe. At this point it is simply just a universal way to supplant data into a readable format, and has no functionality. Why are there so many other tools out there that modify HTML, yet for over a decade HTML has resisted any significant intrinsic change, in order to make it more than just an avenue to putting content into a browser? Yes, I know, it is a standard and must remain so, but it has been too static for too long. Since my introduction to layers and CSS, I have all but no use for all the other tags used in HTML (except ‘img’, and ‘a’). It’s overbearing, and too simplistic. What HTML needs is to make a change that can blend into all the current web technologies out there. Web programming has come a long way since HTML 1.0 and the W3C needs to create a more flexible markup language. They also need to put the lock(/smack)down on Microsoft, and disable its ability to constantly create its own standard for browsability (i.e. IE)

Comment by CJ — October 28, 2006

To CJ: If you only use “layers”, images and anchors, no wonder you find HTML lacking. To be sure, it isn’t all it could be or even all it should be, but HTML has a lot to work with, a lot of meaningful structure that will give your applications or documents a lot more power than forcing divs and anchors to be more than they are.

And I fail to see how the W3C has any control whatsoever over Microsoft’s idiotic standards breaking. The standards are there to use, but the W3C is not the HTML police (nor should they be). The only way Microsoft will change is if users and developers force them to, or abandon them for something better.

Comment by Trevor — October 28, 2006

Trevor: You make a valid point, but the reason why I said those things, is because, the fact that I use only layers for markup, in conjunction with CSS, is that I really don’t see the difference between styling a header tag or any block of text with anything else. The only reason why I use an image or link tag is simply because they seem to be the only tags that serve a purpose outside of text formatting. I can very simply accomplish all the other stuff with a highly stylized div tag. HTML is boring. I would suggest that the new W3C scale it back, and begin to make it more functional. A standard is set forth for the sole purpose of bringing a multitude of variables into a nice neat package for compatibility, usability, and progress.

Comment by CJ — October 28, 2006

I really don’t see the difference between styling a header tag or any block of text with anything else.

Perhaps you don’t see the difference, but search engines see the difference, devices for people with disabilities see the difference, anything else that will be retrieving data for anything other than simplistic display will see the difference.

It’s amusing that you speak of “usability” in the context of dismissing the semantic structuring of documents HTML is already capable of.

Sounds like what you want is a very rudimentary, scaled back XML. Well, why don’t you just use that? It’s already available.

Comment by Trevor — October 28, 2006

My thoughts regarding the future of HTML:


Obviously the W3C doesn’t have anything better to do. I think they formed the W3C in order to continually piss off the people they are trying to ‘help’. They also seem to like to feel self-important by being members of this group yet none of the members (microsoft, mozilla, etc..) really follow their own groups ‘recommendations’.

Can we have a 10 year hold on any more changes to HTML/XHTML/CSS,JavaScript etc.. we need time to push the limits of what we already have, the rules don’t need to be continually changed in pursuit of some level of abstraction that 99% of people dont want or need.

Please W3C, just let’s first try to let the browser makers catch up and make all their products work consistently, before trying to add any more complications. It really makes my life, and many other’s lives hell who develop web solutions. We have what we need already, please let us master it before you try to change it all over again!

Comment by Damien — October 28, 2006

Wow, what a bunch of interesting, positive and encouraging comments!

I can’t believe I’m reading this on… There is just no way DOM scripting and Ajax could have made it mainstream without the separation between content and presentation CSS and the W3C brought up.

Now if you want to dwell in table-based design and font attributes, fine , but please, don’t expect all of us to do so.

Comment by Tobie Langel — October 29, 2006

Hey neat, another group that won’t get anything done!

Who cares?

Comment by Tom — October 30, 2006

I think I’m going to stop reading the comments on Ajaxian.

Comment by Matthew Ratzloff — November 3, 2006

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