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1. Does XHTML 2.0 have a future? Yes. For those who believe in and
want to pursue development of the Universal Interface Virtual Machine (UIVM)
as Paul calls it, a native language for that machine is needed. We explored
this same avenue in the US Navy MID project and came to similar answers.
A problem of course, is that mixing all of the GUI widgets and document
widgets, and data into the same language gets bulky. There is a tendancy
to start splitting these apart (see XForms) and reintegrate later.
At that point, the UIVM becomes Windows and the footprint of the browser
is rather large. Throw the legacy of say tag soup languages in (see HTML),
and it is considerable. So even if one believes one can't start from a
clean sheet, one ought to consider it. HTML is a marketing success but
a technical mistake. Those who are advised to emulate its success should
consider the costs (money up front but lose your shirt in the maintenance).
2. Is that the only future? No. For some time, people on this list and
elsewhere have yearned for a true XML browser. In effect, an HTML-based
browser is unsuitable for that except by means of transformation. On the
other hand, it appears that applications such as Office (Word, Excel) can
be made XML Schema aware and become XML clients. Also, the
smart client features of .Net et al enable one to build clients that
consume and emit XML. So perhaps the future of XHTML resides
with the web browser, but not the future of XML overall as far as clients
are concerned. The future of the web itself is not browser-centric
and even less so if the option to dump tag soup support cannot be taken.
This suggests that XHTML 2.0 should proceed. What is not sure
and won't be sure is how many and which web browser vendors
will implement it given the alternatives. One might ask if given
smart clients, one needs XForms? SVG is certainly of value,
but again, it is implemented today not as a namespace-add in,
but as a plugin client, so what of XHTML needs to change to
meet that need?
The future of the web browser as UIVM and of XHTML seem to be
inextricably linked. However, alternatives to HTML-centric
web systems are now available and growing as the strengths of
schema-centric markup are coming to the fore. This is finally
and really SGML On The Web and something of a real change at last, in the
way the Internet is used as a markup medium transport.