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Re: XHTML 2.0 considered harmful

From: Jonny Axelsson <jax@opera.no>
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2003 12:35:01 +0100
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <opri3bsnc2iaf507@localhost>

On Thu, 16 Jan 2003 11:12:33 +0100 (CET), Daniel Glazman 
<glazou_2000@yahoo.fr> wrote:

>> The goal isn't, and should not be, to
>> make Yet Another Hypertext Markup Language. Backwards incompatibility
>> is to be avoided, change is bad.

> I am afraid to understand... Are you really saying that the goal of
> XHTML2 isn't, and should not be, the successor of  HyperText Markup
> Language ?

XHTML 2 isn't the successor to HTML, anymore than XHTML 1, HTML 4, HTML 3.2 
or HTML 2 were. HTML 2 made the move into SGML, XHTML 1 made one into a 
SGML subset. If you are a spec writer or debatant, XHTML 2 is a fundamental 
departure, as the previous versions of XHTML were defined by reference to 
HTML 4, and XHTML 2 isn't. If you are a web page author or an implementor, 
you couldn't care less (apart from not needing to cross-reference quite as 

Creating some Perfect New Hypertext Language isn't a worthwhile project in 
my opinion. HTML evolve, it doesn't change through death and rebirth. HTML 
has never been advanced or cutting edge, it is simple, ubiquitous, and a 
good team player. This in my mind is the secret of its success. As long as 
XHTML 2.0 can be handwritten, as long as a page is obvious and doesn't 
contain pageloads of magic incantations, as long as the first word that 
springs to mind when you hear "XHTML 2.0" is "boring", we haven't gone 
wrong. As a consequence we should be as concerned with taking away features 
as we should be with adding new ones, making sure that the features we do 
take away can be achieved in a better way.

This ties in with my concept of "not backwards compatible". Many pages out 
there might just as well been written in PostScript. These will not 
translate easily into XHTML 2.0, and I don't care. Pages that are well made 
in XHTML 1.0 or XHTML 1.1 should translate into XHTML 2.0 with little or no 

(I stay out of the style attribute debate, others are much more riled up 
pro/contra than I am, and thus make better arguments, or at least better 

Jonny Axelsson,
Web Standards,
Opera Software
Received on Thursday, 16 January 2003 06:37:15 UTC

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