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W3C HTML Working Group Updates and Questionnaire

Will there be a new Doctype Switch for Authors to Opt In to Standards Mode?

So things are a brewin’ over at the W3C, as the Working Group has posted a Questionnaire and results about accepting the WHATWG’s HTML5 and Web Forms 2 spec work as the starting basis for the review in the new efforts. This isn’t to say it’ll be used 100% to the letter, but the point is, it’s a place to start.

So far the results seem positively in favor of accepting the HTML5 work as a starting point. If you haven’t looked at the spec, it’s long and I haven’t read the full thing but it is interesting, as it definitely begins to blur the lines between XHTML and HTML, but focuses on a practical approach of what’s being employed in browsers already on the market. It tries to clear up a DTD mess. Also, it offers clarification on content types and mime types and how the documents should be served.

While offering a bunch new features, of course.

WHATWG Offers their Spec Copyright to the W3C

Several weeks ago, the WHATWG full offered up the whole spec copyright to the W3C as was one of the concerns. The W3C typically operates in a mode where vendors can’t directly own the copyrights to these recommendations, which really if you think about it, is the way it should be, so it’s nice to see the WHATWG offering it up like that.

While I haven’t been following the mailing list or joined the Working Group, anybody can as it’s open to the public to join and subscribe to the mailing list. If you’re interested, it’s a chance to participate or at least be a voyeur. If you’re into that sort of thing ;-)

Another Doctype Switch or Other Version Flag for Standards

Chris Wilson spoke at MIX07 and was quoted as mentioning a new “switch” where Web authors would need to “opt-in” to build things with new standards support.

This isn’t new as the Doctype Switch has been around for years. Microsoft introduced it into IE6 a few years after everyone else in order to enhance IE6 to closer support for the specs.

Note that no W3C “spec” is a specification, they’re actually “Recommendations”. So whatever that means. So they aren’t “standards” either. Web standards gets tossed around, but it is what it is.

Some of the thinking from Microsoft on this can be elaborated on in a Chris Wilson post to the working group mailing list, which is an interesting read, even more so the subsequent thread and discussions on a new DTD and so forth.

Seems like at least MS will introduce yet another doctype switch or other flag which will indicate another rendering mode. A real pain to be sure, but there should be a controlled way to adopt new standards in some cases, when there are backwards compatibility issues. Of course, you’ll have authors everywhere accidentally triggering it and not knowing what to do, just like last time. I guess that’s what keeps us gainfully employed.

I’m hoping the WG comes to a conclusion that won’t force a proprietary MS thing in order for MS to continue to evolve IE. I haven’t read the most recent postings, but it’s all there for the taking.

Update 5/10/2007: It appears the W3C has accepted the WHATWG HTML5 spec as their starting point for review in the new HTML Working Group. Most excellent.

May 10, 12:32 PM in Web Development (filed under Web-Standards, Elsewhere)

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