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XHTML 1.0 vs. XHTML 1.1

From: Sean B. Palmer <sean@mysterylights.com>
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 17:10:19 -0000
Message-ID: <026601c08496$41f35200$d7dc93c3@z5n9x1>
To: <www-html@w3.org>
I have a feeling that when XHTML 1.1 [1] goes to recommendation, the main
question will be, "why should I bother changing for 1.0 Strict to 1.1: what
advantages does it have to offer?" Therefore, I hope to pre-empt this
before it happens, and provide some answers.

Firstly, the syntactic differences aren't that large. 1.1 only differs from
1.0 Strict in that the "name" attributes have been removed, and ruby has
been added. Ruby [2] is very useful, from both a design and accessibility
point of view, because it allows for some annotation of text; acronyms and
the like, as well as (its main purpose), i18n problems.

So is that it? Is that the only reason to change from 1.0 to 1.1: the
addition of ruby? What if I don't use Ruby, then there'll be no point,
right? Wrong. One of the largest differences is in the construction of the
markup definition (the DTD) itself. XHTML 1.1 is modularized, which means
it has been broken up into small sets of language that have been tacked
together. Therefore, XHTML 1.1 is seen by some as more of a
proof-of-concept exercise for the HTML WG rather than a new markup langauge
of its own. I have to admit that that is partly the case, but that isn't
the reason you should use it. The best reason I can think of for using 1.1
is that it is the end of the line as far as HTML is concerned.

In other words: what next for XHTML? Well, logically you would think XHTML
2.0. This is partially correct; the XHTML roadmap does say that 2.0 will be
the next step in the evolution. However, all signs point to the fact that
XHTML 2.0 won't be backwards compatable with current browsers and clients
(for example, the registration of new MIME type...), in which case, I don't
envisage that all that many people will be using it. I could be proven
*very* wrong though, because it is possible
that if 2.0 is highly interoperable and more XSLT tools come around, we
could be storing our data safely in XHTML 2.0 chunks, and converting it to
other formats on the fly. But what chance does 2.0 have of being fully
interoperable, I mean really? [Actually, I'm pinning all my hopes on 2.0,
so feel free to call hypocricy on me].

This leads me to conclude that the Modularization (m12n) of XHTML [3] is a
fair saving grace. If you don't like a feature of XHTML, or want to see
another added, well now you can just do it. Back to our original 1.0 vs.
1.1 debate, 1.0 is not modularized, wheras 1.1 is. Therefore, using 1.1
promotes the use of m12n for a start. Secondly, it means that at a later
date you can play around with the syntax, especially if you play around
with saving the files on your own server. The following is fully permitted
by the XHTML specifications:-

   <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN"

As long as the XHTML 1.1 DTD appears at the system URL. All this means that
as your page evolves away from XHTML 1.1 (if at all) you can express the
changes in the DTDs and still have your page validate.

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/Ruby/
[3] http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml-modularization

Kindest Regards,
Sean B. Palmer
@prefix : <http://infomesh.net/2001/01/n3terms/#> .
[ :name "Sean B. Palmer" ] has :homepage <http://infomesh.net/sbp/> .
Received on Monday, 22 January 2001 12:11:10 UTC

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