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   Re: [xml-dev] What are the arguments *for* XHTML 2.0?

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In a message dated 20/11/2002 14:23:25 GMT Standard Time, simonstl@simonstl.com writes:

AndrewWatt2000@aol.com writes:
>Oh come on Mike. I gave you and Simon a much fuller formulation of the
>question and you both start with this type of comment.
>You are both intelligent guys. I am sure that you can separate the
>notion of starting from a complex real world position from the notion
>of how best to proceed from that complex position with all assumptions
>being examined.
>Do you genuinely find that distinction difficult to grasp?

The distinction is easy to grasp; the question is much more bluntly
whether proceeding with discussion on the terms you propose is worth the
effort.  I spent far too much time yesterday composing a response that
you appear to find disappointing on first principles, and can't say I
have time today to do the same.

Hi Simon,

It was your response:

I'm afraid I don't find that question meaningful. 

We're not starting with a clean sheet of paper, and starting over in the
existing context seems quite plainly the surest route to accomplishing
nothing at all.

that I found disappointing.

Your other response is interesting. I responded to you separately that I intended to respond to your first reply which *is* interesting. But as I also explained to you I want to get a handle on the range of opinion before responding in detail.

Once upon a time I really hoped that XML would let us discard XHTML and
start anew with an XML-based Web.  That hasn't happened for a wide range
of reasons:

* early XMLites' frequent contempt for the HTML-based Web (and its
support technologies, notably CSS), resulting in a brutal learning curve
for anyone who wanted to send XML to clients.

* the lack of interest on the part of Web developers, who couldn't see a
whole lot of point in using XML instead of XHTML, especially given the
dominance of legacy browsers that had no clue about XML.

* the lack of interest at a certain large browser vendor in presenting
XML with CSS in the browser, perhaps originating from but certainly
further reinforcing the two above trends.

There is also the issue of the prolonged absence of a linking mechanism and the continuing absence of a solution to the fragment identifier issue for XML - likely soon to be rushed to satisfactory/unsatisfactory solution.

I don't see any point whatsoever to starting from a clean sheet of

I've yet to hear any reasons from you why XHTML should be discarded so
bluntly, only questions about how the world might be improved if we did.
Given that I regard the reinvigoration of HTML as critical to getting
the Web moving again, I have a hard time taking seriously the proposal
that we spend enormous amounts of time discussing a world in which we
start over.

This comment seems to me inconsistent with the following paragraph.

Some parts of the computing world already seem to be starting over, but
I have to admit to finding the Web Services paradigm a repulsive
throwback to a client-server age where the sky was the limit on fees
that don't exist for the Web. 

Other are already starting over, as you say.

So it seems to me that avoidance of debating the merits of starting over versus whatever other options exist simply isn't a realistic or sustainable stance.

It seems to me that there has to be some paradigm shift. A free browser paradigm with free content/services isn't sustainable indefinitely. Salaries need to be paid to developers and other staff. So things *will* change. For example, we might have free browsers with fee-for-service content or thicker clients (paid for) perhaps also with fee-for-service.

Isn't it more sensible to address the issue up front with the hope of trying to achieve a solution which is least unsatisfactory?

The free-browser, free-content, free-services paradigm is going to die ... or at least it is going to shrink drastically. It is not a sustainable business model. If worthwhile content and services are to continue then someone has to pay for something at some point in the process. We need to face that reality and think through the consequences. What type of client is approriate in that upcoming world? Is XHTML 2.0 of value in that scenario or is it an irrelevance (as many developers find XHTML 1.0) or little more than an anachronism to which parts of the W3C have a sentimental attachment?


Andrew Watt


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