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On HTML5 and Jumping the Gun

Last week a friend brought to my attention that the XHTML2 working group will close at the end of the year, with resources being switched to focus on HTML5.

About time, too – it was this post, back in April, by Dave Shea that got me thinking how XHTML had been a false dawn, one which web developers – myself included – adopted with too much eagerness and without any real justification for switching from HTML4.1.

I remember six years or so ago, when semantics were all the rage and elitist developers would look down their noses at people who had the gall to stick with HTML4.1 and its woolly allowance for unclosed tags. XHTML seemed like the perfect solution to the problem of sloppy code because you had to be strict about structure and tag nesting. The premise was good – if we all wrote perfect code then the browsers stood more chance of uniformly displaying the pages as intended. A sort of meet-them-in-the-middle approach to achieving the Utopian web standards we all dreamed of.

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