Interview with Ian Hickson on X/HTML 5

March 28, 2007

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What is more important to the future of the web than the future of HTML, and adoption of technology in the browsers? Our own Ian Hickson has been blazing a trail under the WHATWG umbrella, as he tries to do the right thing, and standardize what is already being down, instead of making a specification in an isolated room.

Back in 2005, Ian conducted a comprehensive, detailed analysis of how markup is used on the Web which gives his real world metrics to go by.

Vlad Alexander from was invited to post a series of questions to the X/HTML 5 team on their public mailing list, and recently published their Q & A session.

If you haven't stayed up to date on what is happening around the standards, take a peek to see how the team answered questions such as:
  • Why do we need X/HTML 5? When did this need become apparent?
  • X/HTML 5 is currently in Working Draft stage. What is the tentative timetable for moving X/HTML 5 through the standards approval process towards Recommendation stage?
  • X/HTML 5 introduces new markup constructs such as sectioning elements, enhancements to the input element, a construct for dialogs, a way to mark up figures, and much more. Can you briefly describe these new constructs and the reason they were added?
  • X/HTML 5 has a construct for adding additional semantics to existing elements using predefined class names. Predefined class names could be the most controversial part of X/HTML 5, because the implementation overloads the class attribute. XHTML 2 provides similar functionality using the role attribute. Which approach is better and why?
  • Is it due to a flaw in HTML that it is difficult to build authoring tools, such as WYSIWYG editors, that generate markup rich in semantics, embody best-practices and that can be easily used by non-technical people?
  • Since much of the content on the Web is created using such authoring tools, can we ever achieve a semantically rich and accessible Web?
  • The XHTML 5 spec says that "generally speaking, authors are discouraged from trying to use XML on the Web". Why write an XML spec like XHTML 5 and then discourage authors from using it? Why not just drop support for XML (XHTML 5)?
The full writeup can be read here.