The Future of HTML, Text, and the Web Browser

Standards bodies are now trying to make sure Web 2.0 has a direction. This article discusses the future of HTML and the standard setting efforts of WHATWG.

In this two-part series, Edd Dumbill examines the various ways forward for HTML that Web authors, browser developers, and standards bodies propose. This series covers the incremental approach embodied by the WHATWG specifications and the radical cleanup of XHTML proposed by the W3C. Additionally, the author gives an overview of the W3C’s new Rich Client Activity. Here in Part 1, Edd focuses primarily on two specifications being developed by WHATWG: Web Applications 1.0 (HTML5) and Web Forms 2.0.

For those of you that are not familiar with their efforts:

It [WHATWG] is a loose unofficial collaboration of Web browser manufacturers and interested parties who wish to develop new technologies designed to allow authors to write and deploy Applications over the World Wide Web.

I commend the group for their realization that we need to address the creation of web applications. I also am happy to see an increased movement towards richer functionality. However, my fundamental problem with this and other efforts is that they assume that our current web browser environment is good enough. I assume that is because folks that have made investments in the current environemnt are shaping the standards.

I recently spoke with a friend of mine about this issue, Rafael Bracho. Rafael is the CEO of Abgenial (very cool company) and was the founder of Active Software. And I think we agree that the current browser environment is not the final answer. Does anyone else think that it is a bit weird that our current browsers force developers to transform server-side objects into XML, send XML over to the browser environment. just so someone can parse the XML and put it BACK into objects for manipulation?

I love Firefox. But, all good things most come to an end. Especially in software. I agree with the folks at Flock that think it is time for a change in the browser environment. The current browser was designed for a text-centric, publication experience. Instead of hacking Firefox to accomodate the new world of service-oriented, information sharing, why don’t we start thinking about a new browser?

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