[whatwg] notes on current HTML5 draft

Shelley Powers shelleyp at burningbird.net
Sat May 2 07:22:03 PDT 2009

Per Ian Hickson's request, first of my notes on the current HTML 5 draft

Section 1.6.3, where you compare HTML5 with XHTML2 and XForms, you write

"However, XHTML2 and XForms lack features to express the semantics of 
many of the non-document types of content often seen on the Web. For 
instance, they are not well-suited for marking up forum sites, auction 
sites, search engines, online shops, mapping applications, e-mail 
applications, word processors, real-time strategy games, and the like.

This specification aims to extend HTML so that it is also suitable in 
these contexts."

This sounds more like marketing speak than something one would find in a 
specification. If it's important for an individual to know why they 
might want to use HTML5 over XHTML2, then the information should be 
given in detail, rather than in one vague paragraph.

In addition, I've not found that the HTML5 specification answers the 
claims given in the above paragraph. For instance, why would HTML5 be 
better for a mapping application than XHTML2? Or an auction site?

In section 1.7, you write

"The "DOM5 HTML", "HTML5", and "XHTML5" representations cannot all 
represent the same content. For example, namespaces cannot be 
represented using "HTML5", but they are supported in "DOM5 HTML" and 
"XHTML5". Similarly, documents that use the noscript  feature can be 
represented using "HTML5", but cannot be represented with "XHTML5" and 
"DOM5 HTML". Comments that contain the string "-->" can be represented 
in "DOM5 HTML" but not in "HTML5" and "XHTML5". And so forth."

"And so forth", is not something one wants to read in a specification, 
because we expect precision, and "and so forth" is vague, and imprecise.

Since the HTML5 supposedly represents both a HTML and a XHTML 
serialization technique, perhaps the document can take a lesson from the 
RDF community and provide a separate document, or at least a section 
detailing the two different serialization techniques. This would go far, 
too, in clearing up the confusion regarding XHTML. Too many people are 
making assumptions that "XHTML is dead" because the XHTML serialization 
of HTML5 is not spelled out as clearly as it could be.

You actually do mix the differences between the two throughout the 
document, but that, to me, seems to 'clutter' up the spec -- making it 
difficult to determine what's new in the spec. If the HTML5 document is 
a new model for web page markup, then the model aspect of the spec 
should be detailed separately from its various serializations, and that 
includes any API.

Right now, it's difficult to read the specification because it jumps too 
frequently between the abstract and the implementation, sometimes in one 

More later.


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