My ideal XHTML (if I were dictator)

David Megginson david at
Fri Sep 3 00:11:50 BST 1999

Paul Prescod writes:

 > > The current "10% solution" (three namespace URIs) is IMNSHO the
 > > wrong tack -- either don't address it at all, or hold out for a
 > > complete solution, but don't put something in that's widely
 > > perceived as broken and is universally acknowledged as
 > > incomplete!
 > I agree and I would feel the same about a single namespace. We
 > don't need no steekin namespaces (yet!).

I'd have to say that I'd prefer no XHTML spec to the last-call WD that
we have now, but for me (and other implementors) a single, standard
HTML Namespace is really the *only* point of an XHTML spec.  I'd be
happy just with an XHTML NOTE that looked something like this:


  [W3C logo, blurbs, disclaimers, etc.]

  This note defines an XHTML, an HTML vocabulary for XML.  The XHTML
  vocabulary consists of all of the elements and attributes included
  in HTML 4.01 (all flavours), but using XML rather than SGML syntax.

  [give a few illustrative examples with commentary]

  All XHTML element and attribute names belong to the Namespace
  "".  This Namespace URI is
  intended to be presistent; the attribute
  "{}version" is reserved to
  distinguish future versions of XHTML when there are

  [explain rules for unknown elements and attributes]

  [give examples of Namespace use]

  In an XHTML document, or within XHTML markup embedded in another
  document type, any non-XHTML extensions must be clearly
  distinguished by being placed in a separate Namespace.

  [give examples of XHTML with extensions and of embedded XHTML.]

  [provide a couple of non-normative sample DTDs in an appendix]


Is this underspecified?  Well, yes.  Is it better than the status quo?
It sure is!  It's also probably the most that we can sell to the Web
community at once, and probably the most that they can successfully
implement in the next few years.

Something this simple has the potential to revolutionize the Web and
greatly improve search engines, things that we promised XML would do
in the first place: applications will be able to recognize HTML markup
in any XML document, and to recognize foreign markup in HTML documents
-- that's *way* more than we have now.  

People can get to work defining and standardizing vocabularies, so
that search engines can look for
"{}subject-code" or
"{}price" across large heterogenous
document bases.

I figure that we have only a 50% chance of success even with something
this simple, about a 15% chance of success with the current XHTML WD,
and about 0.1% chance of convincing the Web community to use schemas,
modules, etc.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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