HTML-XML Combo Finalized

SAN MATEO (01/28/2000) - The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), seeking to expand the use of XML without making existing HTML elements obsolete, recommended the XHTML (Extensible HTML) 1.0 specification as a bridge between the two language environments.

The specification is designed to allow developers to create Web pages that combine the data structuring of XML and the presentation of HTML.

XHTML 1.0 was created by rewriting HTML 4 as an XML application, creating a specification that will work with HTML browsers and leverage XML's device-independent access capabilities.

"The challenge is that XML has been fantastic, and everyone wants to leverage its extensibility and power; however, everything being developed now is in HTML, so how do you deal with that combination," said Sally Khudairi, CEO of the ZOT Group, a Boston-based Web strategy consultancy.

Developers already writing HTML 4 documents should have a smooth transition to XHMTL 1.0, said Janet Daly, a spokesperson for the W3C, adding that the W3C provides tools to convert HTML 4 documents into XHTML.

"As the Web has been moving toward the XML direction, it became apparent that even the Web users of today and the Web authors of today using HTML want to be able to do more," said Daly, noting the prevalence of new devices such as smart phones and mobile handhelds. "They want to do more structurally, they want to reach more of the new users that are now demanding Web access."

XHTML will simplify the Web development process by obviating the need for developing multiple versions of a single Web site based on the type of device upon which the site will run, ZOT Group's Khudairi added.

"[XHTML] is the immediate link between the two standards, allowing developers to program their Web Sites without having to go through and strip out everything and reprogram what they already have in order to take advantage of XML," Khudairi said.

The World Wide Web Consortium is at www.w3c.org.

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