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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

HTML5 and Nofollow

HTML5 appeared as first working draft at the World Wide Web Consortium. Partially, XHTML2 made more sense to me (e.g. a simple <h> instead of <h1>, <h2> and so on could be used for headings, accompanied by a <section> element... and RSS features were integrated right into the document). We’ll have to see where the W3C wants to go – and then wait some years for browsers to actually implement any of this... and then wait for those browsers to be reasonably deployed.

Right now, this Alpha specification seems to try to acknowledge some web realities (like an <article> element for typical blogs, called “Web logs” in the draft), while ignoring others (for instance, elements like <address> are still included even though they remain to be largely ignored by web authors even after years). It’s a bit of a manifesto – written in rather non-accessible language, in good W3C tradition – trying to merge different “HTML religions” (e.g. Plain Old HTML vs XHTML/ XML), so many aspects of it are merely of religious interest it seems. At one point, this aspect is even made explicit when the draft says (my emphasis):

Though it has absolutely no effect and no meaning, the html element, in HTML documents, may have an xmlns attribute specified, if, and only if, it has the exact value “”. ... In HTML, the xmlns attribute has absolutely no effect. It is basically a talisman. It is allowed merely to make migration to and from XHTML mildly easier.

Interestingly enough, the “nofollow” attribute value for links – originally introduced by several search engines, including Google (nofollow was only used a document’s meta section before that) – has made it into the specification, along with a couple of other values. Perhaps not coincidentally, one of the two editors listed for the document is Ian Hickson, who works at Google. Quote from the draft:

[Via Martin Porcheron at Friendfeed.]


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