The Opera web browser is made in Norway (.. with headquarters in Oslo, the nation's capital). Before reading today's entry you should download & install a copy (currently at v11.x) .. as a way of thanking them. For what? Keep reading.
HTML 5 is coming. Sooner than many had expected. That's good news. (The Standards-creation process » aqui.)
The W3C, which is headed by Tim Berners-Lee -- the guy who invented the Web and was subsequently knighted -- operates on a consensus basis.
This might be why changes to Web standards (called Recommendations) such as HTML & CSS are made at such a frustratingly glacial pace.
Getting people from Microsoft & Apple (and others who make browsers) to agree on anything is no mean feat.
In '98, the W3C decreed that HTML was done (toast) and that XML represented the way forward.
The current spec/standard (that I use) is called » XHTML 1.0, which is simply an XML version of HTML. It uses HTML elements wrapped in (stricter) XML syntax. This is the standard used by most web pages being written today.
» <!doctype html>
HTML5 was not always called HTML5. Rather it started out as something called » Web Applications 1.0, which began in 2004 when folks from Mozilla & Apple joined forces with a group from Opera, who was not convinced that XML represented the best way for the Web to proceed.
They called themselves the » WHATWG .. the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group. (You must admit, WHATWG is a funny name .. especially for a group of über-geeks.)
» The Philosophical Battle Line » Backwards-Compatibility
But let's back up a bit. What's known today as HTML5 actually began as a philosophical battle. (Everybody loves a good philosophical battle, and a good story.)
The battle was over » backwards-compatibility. Sorta. It was definitely a prime consideraton in the battle that ensued.
The problem was » XHTML 2.0. It was a revolutionary design-concept .. that broke backward compatibility with HTML. Something that had never happened before. Moreover XHTML 2.0 came with draconian error-handling, which would cause browsers to stop rendering a page if errors were detected.
This draconian path of XHTML 2.0 that broke backward-compatibility with HTML, and where errors would not be tolerated, was the course the W3C had chosen for the Web's future.
In 2004, the W3C's futuristic purity-of-design philosophy (embodied by XML-based » XHTML 2.0) was challenged by a small group from Opera, who claimed that a pragmatic approach (that didnt break backward compatibility) would be a better solution. A better idea.
» Pragmatism vs Purity of Design
Pragmatism vs purity of design .. that's a good match up for any geek. Normally (without knowing the details) I would side with P-o-D.
But, we're talking about the Web .. which we want to be EASY for people to use.
I mean, ease-of-use is one of the main things that makes the Web so cool. Right? Anybody and their grandma can use it.
But I can feel it becoming more difficult. Of course, the more power you bring to any software or technology .. the greater the learning curve to wield that power.
Before I learned CSS, webmaster-life was tough sledding. Before I learned my way around the Linux shell, web admin-life was also tough. When you learn how to use it (.. becoming a student) .. technology can be pretty cool.
Anyway, the gang at Opera developed a proof-of-concept spec called » Web Forms 2.0 - that extended the functionality of HTML forms withOUT breaking backward-compatibilty. "See!" they exclaimed. "It can be done. In your face, Timmy-boy. I mean, Sir Tim."
Nevertheless, the W3C rejected their proposal, claiming it conflicted with the course they had already laid out and had already committed to.