Have we just seen the death of XHTML2? The XHTML 2 Working Group charter will not be renewed after 2009 according to an announcement on the w3c site. Seems likely that parts of this will reemerge inside future parts of HTML5 (or stricter versions where it looks like XHTML) but only if the hackers at Google and Mozilla want to implement it.

The arguments and confusion that occurred during the development process were detailed in a register article, which is interesting because of its claims that proprietary RIA plugin development was causing conflicts. An IBM developer article neatly lays out the different paths that the two standards took. Looking back, it seems obvious that such major changes to the standard were far too dramatic – incremental change looks like the way forward.

Standards Vs Market

An interesting split is occurring inside the group developing the next iteration of HTML.  Many of the individual companies working in the group would like audio and video support (in the style of appropriate codecs that would be embedded inside the browser executable). Reaching agreement on which particular formats should be supported is the problem:

The current situation is as follows:

   Apple refuses to implement Ogg Theora in Quicktime by default (as used
   by Safari), citing lack of hardware support and an uncertain patent

   Google has implemented H.264 and Ogg Theora in Chrome, but cannot
   provide the H.264 codec license to third-party distributors of
   Chromium, and have indicated a belief that Ogg Theora's quality-per-bit
   is not yet suitable for the volume handled by YouTube.

   Opera refuses to implement H.264, citing the obscene cost of the
   relevant patent licenses.

   Mozilla refuses to implement H.264, as they would not be able to obtain
   a license that covers their downstream distributors.

   Microsoft has not commented on their intent to support video at all

However – Mozilla (Firefox) and Google (Chrome) have committed to actually supporting Ogg, despite some questions about the quality that is possible. Will the market simply respond to these by using them? Or will the proliferation of (perceived) freely available codecs mean that nobody cares? It’s well worth looking at some of the astonishing apps built using javascript and an embedded codec to see what’s possible (Ajaxian has great coverage):

Update: arstechnica has a detailed analysis

links: whatwg webmonkey