After several years spent trying to persuade Web site developers and browser vendors to move to XML-based documents, the World Wide Web Consortium has resumed development of HTML, announcing in mid-January the first public working draft of the HTML5 specification.
The consortium, known as W3C, hasn't given up on XHTML 2.0, which strives for elegance and insists on correctness. But those developing HTML5 take a more pragmatic approach: Consider the problems plaguing Web developers today and try to make their lives easier--without rebuilding the core of the protocol.
HTML5 detractors say the spec is not a step forward; they prefer the more elegant design of XHTML2, which is still under development. At some point, they argue, Web designers must be held to a stricter standard when developing sites. Yet the reality is that wide browser support is crucial for any Web standard to be useful, and XHTML2 is a more significant change for browser developers than HTML5.
And with no support for XHTML promised by Microsoft, elegance is proving a difficult sell.