13 September 2004

You say WHAT?

I recently became aware of the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG). WHAT is working towards the next generation of HTML and associated standards, with final standardisation of their work to come from the W3C.

This work is interesting because it's something that the W3C themselves have steered clear of in the last three or four years. We haven't seen any real advancement on the XHTML 1.0 standard, in both standards development and compliance.

In a way, this is the fault of both the W3C and the browser vendors. The guys at the W3C seem to have given up flogging the dead horse of HTML and its associated standards, when all the action is happening in the XML world. On the other hand, browser makers have set standards compliance generally very low on their priorities. But then again, who can blame them, when providing support for any standard above HTML 4.01 results in little more than XML-cleanliness? As far as users are concerned, there is absolutely no functional improvement gained in the web standards developed since 1997. Accordingly, a mish-mash of scripting and non-standard markup is the story of the web today.

Amongst this shambles, it's refreshing to see a new group out to take on the challenge. It will be interesting to see what comes of their efforts.