W3C releases XHTML Basic spec for mobile devices

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The World Wide Web Consortium Tuesday released its Extensible HTML Basic specification as a W3C recommendation.

XHTML Basic is a simpler version of XHTML 1.0 -- a blending of HTML and XML -- that allows for the delivery of Web content using advanced technology to smaller non-PC devices such as mobile phones, PDAs, pagers and television-based Web browsers, W3C spokesman Ian Jacobs said.

Specifically, the W3C combined its XHTML 1.0 Recommendation, which was originally published in January with aspects of another specification entitled "Modularization of XHTML" to create XHTML Basic as a markup language that works better on mobile Web devices, Jacobs said.

"XHTML 1.0 is based on HTML 4, which is a rather big specification; about 400 pages. That doesn't work very well on mobile devices due to things like their small screen size, and the fact that they don't have much memory or power. XHTML Basic allows for conformance to smaller pieces of XHTML 1.0," Jacobs said.

"We broke it down so that developers can pick and choose various aspects [of the XHTML 1.0 core set] and we expect these to be useful to almost all browsers," Jacobs said.

In issuing the W3C recommendation, the organization is affirming that after a full review by the W3C Membership, it finds XHTML Basic to be a stable specification that contributes to Web interoperability and is worthy of adoption as an industry standard, Jacobs said.

The editors of XHTML Basic include Masayasu Ishikawa of W3C, Mark Baker of Sun, Shinichi Matsui of Panasonic, Peter Stark of L.M. Ericsson Telephone, Ted Wugofski of Openwave Systems and Toshihiko Yamakami of the Japanese company Access Co. Ltd. The editors are part of the W3C HTML Working Group, which was responsible for producing the XHTML Basic document, W3C said in the specification on its Web site.

The group also used input from the WAP Forum, which is working on its Version 2.0 of Wireless Application Protocol, W3C said. The next major version of the protocol for providing Internet-based data services on mobile phones, which is expected to be approved by mid-2001, is expected to complete a migration to XHTML as well as TCP -- Transmission Control Protocol.

The W3C HTML Working Group and the W3C Mobile Access Interest Group will work together to find common ground for future markup languages aimed at content for small information appliances, though the idea isn't for XHTML Basic to grow, Jacobs said. "XHTML Basic is a return to simplicity, because there are fewer features," Jacobs said.

Web technology pioneer and current W3C director Tim Berners-Lee founded the W3C in 1994.

The XHTML Basic recommendation can be found here.

The W3C can be contacted at 617-253-5884, or at http://www.w3.org/.

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