Sunday, November 12, 2006

XHTML Basic 1.1 is less basic but is it better?

The W3C defined "XHTML Basic" as a cut down version of HTML, for low power and hand-held devices , including mobile phones, iTV, PDAs, coke machines and car dashboards. A new Working Draft of XHTML Basic 1.1 was released 5 July 2006. I used XHTML Basic 1.0 for teaching web design for general, mobile and accessible devices.

XHTML Basic 1.0 includes web headings, paragraphs, lists, links, basic forms, tables and images. It leaves out frames and styles defined inside the document (you had to use external style sheets). This makes it much easier to stop web designers learning bad habits. Instead of just saying "don't spread formatting information throughout your document, put it in a style sheet", a syntax driven editor will enforce this rule with XHTML Basic. If the designer uses a non-conforming tool, their web pages will not validate when tested.

This is okay for teaching, but XHTML Basic left out some useful stuff for the real world. I use the "Target" attribute to do web pages for group presentations. When you click on an external link, this opens a second window on the browser. It works very well on in an Access Grid room, with multiple screens: the main presentation stays open on one screen and you can open referenced document on another. But XHTML Basic 1.0 doesn't have the target attribute.

Also having to use external style sheets becomes annoying. You have to define a style sheet just to change one little part of a web page.

Revision, 1.1 of XHTML Basic the W3C have added these features back, along with:
  • XHTML Forms (defined in [XHTMLMOD])
  • Intrinsic Events (defined in [XHTMLMOD])
  • The value attribute for the li element (defined in [XHTMLMOD])
  • The inputmode attribute
Of course, it will be some time before tools support XHTML Basic 1.1 and there are some grumbles about it leaving the path of purity.

There is also a new "Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 - Basic Guidelines", 2 November 2006, to help with doing web pages for phones, TVs and PDAs.

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