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W3C Whips Up API to Manage Web Languages

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Thursday finished a specification of an API for manipulating HTML and XHTML 1.0 documents and data through a programming language.

Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 HTML has been issued as a W3C Recommendation, meaning the group favors its passage. The organization said DOM Level 2 HTML makes scripting for the Web with Java, or another programming language, easier and more reliable.

DOM is the neutral specification for how objects in a Web page -- text, images, headers -- are represented. The DOM defines what attributes are associated with each object, and how the objects and attributes can be manipulated. Dynamic HTML (DHTML), which describes the combination of HTML, style sheets and scripts that allows documents to be animated, relies on the DOM to dynamically change the appearance of Web pages after they have been downloaded to a user's browser.

The new DOM Level 2 HTML spec provides the interface that gives programs and scripts a standard way to navigate, transform and update HTML and XHTML 1.0 documents.

Vendors who work within the W3C DOM Working Group include Arbortext, Corel, IBM, Netscape, Oracle and X-Hive. Netscape Vice-President of Client Product Development Laura Yecies said DOM HTML Level 2 represents important advances, such as better description of existing browsers and support for XHTML, to help her firm improve its products.

"Netscape is strongly committed to supporting this new level of standard along with other web standards because they are the foundation for interactive web content," Yecies said. "We will continue to work within the W3C to define fundamental web standards such as the DOM Level 2 HTML and to support these standards in the Mozilla browser as well as in products based upon it such as the recent Netscape 7 browser."

DOM Level 2 HTML has undergone rigorous testing: the W3C DOM Working Group performed over 500 individual tests, which were launched jointly with the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Free to developers, the DOM Test Suites give browser authors the chance to pit their software against the developing set of tests and make adjustments to code. More changes to the test suites are forthcoming now that the DOM Level 2 HTML is complete.

The W3C DOM Working Group began its work published DOM Level 1 in 1998. The majority of DOM Level 2 was completed in 2000, but DOM Level 2 Model for HTML and XHTML 1.0 documents required further work. The DOM Working Group is not resting on its laurels -- it is currently at work developing DOM Level 3.