Friday, February 26, 2010

Coming to terms with HTML 5

I haven't heard much talk among digital humanists about HTML 5. If I've missed something please let me know.

I will admit that for a long time I sort of ignored it. I was interested in xhtml 2 but that's dead. And when the html 5 discussions began, xhtml seemed like a barely tolerated intruder. That's clearly less so currently. Then there was the dismissive attitude of the "5" folk towards RDFa. Everybody seems to be talking now and that's good.

So it looks like there will be an XHTML5 that directly supports RDFa. I'm assuming that means in the DOM as it's made available to Javascript. (Somebody tell if I'm wrong about that).

With this in mind, I spent the day catching up with developments in the html 5 community. Sometimes focusing on integration with RDFa but also just catching up.

This series of articles by "boblet" was well-written and useful. On the RDFa front, I read Mark Birbeck's discussion about tokenizing RDFa. Likewise interesting. And see the RDFa section of the HTML5 page.

I like that html 5 supports structures along the lines of:

<h1>Next section</h1>
Add in more xhtml 1.0 bits and you can really think about doing a nice job of publishing prose works digitally with the html5 vocabulary. And don't forget the '<article>' element. That looks interesting as well.

Not all is perfect. I've always been bummed that the title element goes in the head of an (x)html document. That means that if you want it to show up in the document part of a browser window, you have to repeat it. There's some silliness there. Why can't a title element go anywhere? And would it it really be a problem if a document had more than one title in it? I can think of use-cases where that works: more than one article in a single html file, or a list of objects that have titles.

And there's still no preferred way of doing footnotes. The section in the spec 4.6.26 is sort of a punt. The boblet articles suggest <aside> for footnotes but that isn't encouraged in the spec. I see that there's a "note" value for the rel attribute on the WHATWG RelExtensions page. That list is an official part of the html 5 spec (see "Other Link Types"). But the spec is totally vague on how a proposed rel moves to actual approval.

And anybody using xhtml is still going to have lots of decisions about what goes in class attributes and how to specify lots of basic things like 'author'. That smacks of being proprietary. How much can Dublin Core help with this?

So... it was a day of mostly reading. I added a little bit of xhtml 5 to the git repository under an xhtml5 branch but only just a hint of what I should do to really "commit" to such a big change.

No comments: