Yesterday, the big news on the Web broke that the XHTML 2 Working Group will cease work on XHTML 2 by the end of 2009.
This is exciting news for two significant reasons: first, it means all attention and energy will now be focused on HTML5, ensuring that spec gets both the support and the (constructive) criticism it deserves. Second, it shows that pragmatic approaches prevail over completely purist ideology.
I’ve sometimes been criticized in my work for being too much of a purist, for caring too much about doing things the absolute best way possible when more pragmatic approaches exist. This is not an example of that; XHTML 2 has been dead in the water almost since its inception. It was mired in unrelenting ideology, whereas HTML 5 has shown enough pragmatism to garner adoption from the industry professionals thatactually build websites with these specs.
Sometimes people seem to forget what and who these specs are actually for in the first place.
Designing With Web Standards, I expressed concern with the direction of XHTML and the notion that a more abstract and variable XML was the markup language of everyone’s future. On the other hand, XHTML 1.0 was and is a stable, clean, and logical standard markup language that every browser supports (with the exception of MIME type in IE). At the time of the first and second editions, even with HTML 5 in the wings, XHTML 1.0 still made sense to me as a solid toehold for web development for years to come.
In case anyone is wondering: I’ve been using the HTML 5 doctype on as many projects as possible almost since it first came around. The theme currently used on this site, not containing any HTML5, is not mine but someone else’s WordPress theme I intended to only have around for a couple months. Sometimes life gets in the way, but very soon now I truly will put my own design in place, and it will be Modernized and made with HTML5.