XHTML expert Molly Holzschlag discusses where XHTML is heading next, including the concept of modularization and XHTML Basic.
So now you know what XHTML 1.0 is. You know how to create a document that is compatible with the standard, and you've found it pretty easy to do. So what does the future hold in store?
Well, here's where things get a bit more challenging. XHTML 1.1, which at the time of this writing is still being discussed, introduces the concept of modularization. In the most basic terms, this means that a lot of the familiar constructs of a Web document are changing. Nearly every aspect of markup of which you are aware—tables, forms, images—has been separated from the basic document and placed into a separate module. The idea with modularization is to provide authors with a kind of plug-and-play concept. If you need it, you use it. But if you don't need it, you leave it out.
A good example of this simplification is XHTML Basic. This language is an extremely pared-down version of familiar markup. XHTML Basic was created to address markup for wireless devices such as pagers, cell phones, and set-top boxes. It allows for such Web markup as basic text formatting and very basic tables. But many other elements, such as frames, simply don't exist in the language—they're not needed at this time. Development for wireless devices requires simplicity. Heavy images, complex tables, frames—these things demand processing power and complex browser rendering. But tiny wireless devices can provide neither. Therefore, the need to adhere to a standard method of markup that is appropriate for such devices is imperative.
But simplification of an actual language doesn't necessarily mean that understanding how applications and technologies within and related to the XML family is going to be easy. In some ways, it's more confusing! But the one comfort I take is that I'm convinced that learning XHTML 1.0 is an excellent starting point for the HTML author who has little or no background in XML but who needs to move toward XML applications to advance professionally and technologically. XHTML 1.0 helps put XML concepts into very real perspectives, and that, for me, is the most compelling reason why it's attractive and necessary.
An author, instructor, and designer, Molly E. Holzschlag brings her irrepressible enthusiasm to books, classrooms, and Web sites. Honored as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Women on the Web, Molly has worked in the online world for an almost unprecedented decade. She has written and contributed to more than 10 books about the Internet and, in particular, the Web.
Molly holds a B.A. in communications and writing and an M.A. in media studies from the New School for Social Research. You can visit her Web site at http://www.molly.com/.
Molly's most recent publications are Special Edition Using XHTML(Que, November 2000), Sams Teach Yourself Adobe LiveMotion in 24 Hours (Sams, June 2000), and Special Edition Using HTML 4.0, Sixth Edition (Que, December 1999).