Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the future of XHTML

W3C has compiled this list of questions to help public and W3C Members alike understand the future development of XHTML in the W3C.

What will happen to the XHTML 2 Working Group?

When W3C announced the HTML and XHTML 2 Working Groups in March 2007, we indicated that we would continue to monitor the market for XHTML 2. W3C recognizes the importance of a clear signal to the community about the future of HTML.

While we recognize the value of the XHTML 2 Working Group's contributions over the years, after discussion with the participants, W3C management has decided to allow the Working Group's charter to expire at the end of 2009 and not to renew it.

What will happen to the HTML Working Group?

The HTML Working Group will continue with its current charter. W3C management plans to increase staff resources dedicated to the Group, including dedicated Michael Smith's time entirely to it. We will continue to strive to make sure the group serves the interests of the W3C community.

What are W3C's plans for XHTML?

We distinguish:

  1. XHTML meaning "an XML serialization of HTML," and
  2. A family of documents including XHTML 1.0, XHTML 1.1, XHTML Basic 1.1, and XHTML Modularization.

Regarding the XML serialization of HTML, the HTML 5 specification includes a section on XML serialization, as well as a section on text/html serialization. W3C plans to continue work on both serializations in the HTML Working Group. Thus, we expect the next generation XML serialization of HTML to be defined in the HTML 5 specification. Currently, the HTML 5 specification refers to this serialization as "XHTML 5" [HTML 5, section 1.6]

Regarding maintenance of the XHTML family of specifications, see below.

Does W3C plan for the XML serialization of HTML to remain compatible with XML?


Does W3C plan for the XML serialization of HTML to support XML namespaces?

Yes. The HTML 5 specification says in section 9.1 "The syntax for using HTML with XML, whether in XHTML documents or embedded in other XML documents, is defined in the XML and Namespaces in XML specifications."

However, see the question below for the relationship between XML namespaces and decentralized extensibility.

How will HTML 5 manage (decentralized) extensibility?

In its specifications and process, W3C seeks a balance between stability (for interoperability) and flexibility (to accommodate evolution).

HTML 5 has a number of extensibility mechanisms, but none yet that satisfies the requirement XML namespaces was designed to address of decentralized extensibility - allowing parties to include their own elements or attributes in content without risk of name collisions (whether those names are the result of a consensus process or not).

An HTML Working Group issue on decentralized extensibility is still open and unresolved. The text/html serialization of HTML5 contains extensibility points but does not provide a decentralized mechanism.

One of the open questions is what extensibility mechanism can be used such that, when it is parsed from either the HTML or XML serialization, the DOM that results is the same (see HTML Design Principles section 3.5).

W3C plans to organize a panel at TPAC 2009 on the topic of decentralized extensibility in HTML and will continue to try to bring the community together to find a solution.

What are W3C's plans for RDFa?

RDFa is a specification for attributes to express structured data in any markup language. W3C published RDFa as a Recommendation in October 2008, and deployment continues to grow.

The HTML Working Group has not yet incorporated RDFa into their drafts of HTML 5. Whether and how to include RDFa into HTML 5 is an open question on which we expect further discussion from the community (see also the question on decentralized extensibility).

What are W3C's plans for the deliverables of the XHTML 2 Working Group?

Some work is expected to move to another group:

XML Events 2.
The Forms Working Group is the most likely destination.
Role and Access modules.
The HTML Working Group is the most likely destination.
For the role module, see also these HTML Working Group issues: 14, and 51.

Part of the discussion over the next several months will involve easing the transition of the above work into the appropriate groups. Some charter modifications may be necessary to accomplish these transitions.

For the remainder of its charter, the XHTML 2 Working Group will focus on maintaining the following specifications through the Proposed Edited Recommendation process:

There are a number of known issues (e.g., DTD bugs) with these specifications that should be fixed while HTML 5 is still in development. A number of unaddressed issues led W3C to rescind four Proposed Edited Recommendations in May 2009. The XHTML 2 Working Group will work with the community to ensure that open issues have been addressed.

As mentioned earlier in the FAQ, the expectation is that HTML 5 will define the next generation XML serialization of HTML. Therefore, W3C does not at this time plan to allocate resources to the maintenance of XHTML 1.1, XHTML 1.1 Basic, and XHTML Print beyond the current round of revisions. W3C does not plan to revise the XHTML 1.0 Recommendation.

Work will stop on these documents (likely to be published as Group Notes):

Note: RDFa uses CURIE technology by inclusion; the role module uses it by reference. At this time we do not plan to publish the CURIE specification as a stand-alone Recommendation. However, ongoing discussions of RDFa and the role module are likely to touch on CURIE technology.

If the community expresses sufficient interest in reviving any of these work in the future, these specifications may be revived as Recommendation-track deliverables.

Can you say more about W3C's plans for XHTML Modularization?

The XHTML Modularization specification has been used to create profiles. W3C does not at this time plan to invest more resources of a successor to the XHTML Modularization Recommendation. For those whose application development benefits from schema validation, W3C XML Schema, Relax NG, other schema languages remain available.

What are W3C's plans regarding XForms?

W3C plans to continue work on XForms within the Forms Working Group (see information about deployment [6], [7]).

What are W3C's Plans regarding HTML 5 for Authors?

As of June 2009, many parts of HTML have been written primarily for browser implementers. W3C has heard the demand from authors for a specification that addresses authors. This is still an open issue and W3C welcomes volunteers to work with the Working Group on a version for authors.

Philippe Le Hegaret and Ian Jacobs
Please address questions to Mike Smith <mike@w3.org> or Philippe Le H├ęgaret <plh@w3.org>

$Date: 2009/07/02 17:41:10 $