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XHTML usage finally exceeds HTML usage
Posted by Matthias Gelbmann on 11 August 2009 in Markup Languages, XHTML
Considering that XHTML became a W3C recommendation in January 2000, one would expect that now, almost 10 years later, there should be no traces of any preceding standard on the web. Isn't the web known to be very short-lived?
XHTML seems to be an exception from that rule. Even today, it is - strictly speaking - not supported by any version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (XHTML pages are interpreted as HTML, which normally works just as well). Other browsers got better XHTML support, but only in the last years. As a web developer, trying to fully adhere to this standard still feels like being an early adopter, struggling with incomplete implementations and workarounds.
Under these circumstances, what is the percentage of websites serving XHTML pages? I'm not aware of any long-term investigations on that figure, but I would have expected it to be low. According to our markup languages survey however, over 55% of all websites are using XHTML now1, making something else than HTML the prevailing markup language for the fist time in the history of the web.
Nothing lasts longer than a provisional solution
XHTML can be defined as transitional or strict. The name transitional suggests, that it's a way to deal with difficulties during a transition period, when a new standard is being introduced. After 10 years, is that transition period over by now?
When we look at the detailed XHTML survey, we see that 82% of the XHTML-serving websites use transitional. That is also a bit of a surprise to me, because this distinction has nothing to do with the poor browser support mentioned above. I would have expected that people, who want to use the latest standards, to go for the strict version of that standard, and do not stop in-between. More along my expectations is, that the HTML guys stick to transitional.
In 2002, W3C made an update of XHTML from version 1.0 to 1.1. Our XHTML sub-version report shows, that a quite low percentage of websites use that new version. Obviously, there was no burnig need for that update.
New kids on the block
It was interesting to watch the grassroot movement, that defined a new HTML version, gaining acceptance. Not only from the browser providers, but also from the W3C. This has finally resulted in finishing the work on XHTML 2 at W3C, so that we can expect the trend towards XHTML to be reversed within the next few years. I'm looking forward to see the first "version 5" entries showing up in the HTML report.
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