In HTML WTF, Jeffrey Zeldman says “XHTML is dead—kind of.” The dozens of comments following his pronouncement indicates there is still plenty of confusion regarding XHTML and the budding HTML 5 standard. In Stoneship, Denis Defreyne’s comments mocked the comments from Zeldman’s readers. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber says there are a lot of misunderstandings out there regarding HTML 5.
Can someone bring clarity to the issue?
I’m relatively new to serious web page coding, so I can’t speak from either experience or capability, but if ever there was an issue that needed clarity it’s HTML 5.
Having recently been given the assignment to re-build Mac360 I decided to look closer at browser page rendering capability and the various W3C standards, including CSS. HTML 5 has been added to my list.
Regarding Jeffrey Zeldman’s pronouncement, I sympathize completely with his perspective, and that of many of the commenters. It’s a mess. I don’t see how HTML 5, especially now that there is no agreement on audio and video codecs, improves the mess. Instead, it adds to the mess.
As someone now entrusted with code development on a few sites, I have a basic objective. Sites with clean, uncluttered, manageable code, standards compliant, that also look good in major browsers of recent heritage.
Easier said, than done, huh?
This whole area of web page rendering and standards is a serious mess; mostly born of Microsoft’s continued incompetence and flaunting of any standards other than their own; the de facto standard, itself highly fragmented. It’s a sad state of affairs, improved only somewhat in the recent competition between Apple, Mozilla, and Opera to produce browsers that render W3C standardized code pretty much the same way.
That said, I decided that the code I should use going forward is XHTML 1.0 Transitional, though, admittedly, the choice has absolutely zero to do with the future of XML, and nothing to do with anything transitional. I just want a code base that will be around for a few years and present web pages that look decent in most browsers. The various HTML standards have received little attention other than neglect in recent years. It’s still impossible to use HTML and embed audio and video into a page, have it display properly in most major browsers, and be standards compliant.
For a few months I devoted a lot of time to building web pages with valid code and an increasing amount of CSS (it’s a horribly convoluted learning process, fraught with hacks), only to see the results of web pages distorted, cracked, broken, or mutated by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer’s ridiculously incompetent page rendering; especially IE 6.x, slightly less so in IE 7.x, surprisingly too often in IE 8, considering how long they’ve had to work on it.
Seriously, what a mess.
XHTML 1.0 Transitional seemed to me to be the one W3C standard that rendered web pages decently in most major browsers with the least amount of hacking, including Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. With coding emphasis on CSS these days, it also seemed to be a good choice to move eventually from XHTML 1.0 to HTML 5, which may have a future, but still misses at least one major element needed for future success (besides ratification)—audio and video media components rendered the same in Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, Opera browsers.
Admittedly, I’m intrigued by HTML 5 because it should bridge the gaps between HTML and XHTML, adds sorely needed new functions and features, but I fear Zeldman’s assessment is correct. WTF? Without all the major browser makers on board, and without an intent to render pages in their browsers the same way (most of the time), it’s just another layer which complicates the matter rather than solving the problems that exist now.
John Gruber is right. There are a lot of misunderstandings out there regarding HTML 5. Therefore, clarity as to the value and future of HTML 5 would be beneficial. Someone with a clear, strong, knowledgeable voice has an opportunity to do this. Denis Defreyne’s mocking comments to Zeldman and commenters isn’t it.