W3C Hashes Out New Interoperability Standard

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an
organization dedicated to setting interoperability standards for the Web,
Tuesday proposed a method for separating XHTML 1.0 into modules, which would
provide greater flexibility for developers of Web-enabled products and
services.


This “modules
modularization,”
as the organization calls it, gives product and
specification developers building blocks for creating content and standards
for specifying which blocks are used. This is especially targeted for the
proliferation of devices used to access the Web, including personal digital
assistants, interactive television devices and Web appliances.


What modularization does is give the developers control over designs by
providing the means for subsetting and extending XHTML, including lists,
forms, tables and images, which make it suitable for use on many Web
devices.


An XML language, Extensible Hypertext
Markup Language (XHTML)
is a hybrid between HTML and XML designed for
Net device displays. Like Sun Microsystem Inc.’s seminal Java family of products, the point of the
WC3’s recommendation is to open up interoperability among components and
platforms.


“Modularization of XHTML gives content developers the ability to choose
modules, either alone or in combination with others, which are all
components of the XHTML family, ensuring interoperability,” explained Steven
Pemberton, chair of the HTML Working Group. “By using standardized modules
in clearly specified ways, we are able to use automated tools to transform
content to suit various devices, so content developers can focus on what
they do best.”


Pemberton & Co. decided on the recommendation with the idea that many
companies have chosen to integrate the XHTML language into their products
and services. The W3C’s proposal also stemmed from the idea that XHTML
Basic, the infancy stage of Modularization, is already endorsed by the
mobile telecommunications industry.


To be sure, it has a staunch supporter in mobile telecommunications firm
Ericsson.


“Modularization of XHTML provides a standard way of customizing markup
languages based on XHTML,” said Martin Jönsson, strategic product manager,
Ericsson. “It makes them more suitable for different types of Web clients
such as mobile phones, and lets us include the best features from different
markup languages in XHTML. We are planning using modularization of XHTML to
extend XHTML Basic with WML markup, to combine the best of the new Web and
the best of WAP.”


Other endorsers of the modularization proposal include Applied Testing and
Technology, CWI, IBM, Intel, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.
(Panasonic), Microsoft, Mozquito Technologies, Netscape/AOL, Openwave
Systems, Opera Software, Philips Electronics, Quark Inc., Sun Microsystems
and WebGeek, Inc.


Although it is called a recommendation, it is actually a standard, having fulfilled requirements by the W3C:
a W3C recommendation indicates that a specification is stable, contributes
to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C Membership, who
are in favor of supporting its adoption by academic, industry and research
communities.


This is the third Recommendation the W3C HTML Working Group has produced in
the past 15 months, building from XHTML 1.0 in January 2000, and XHTML Basic
in December 2000.

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