HTML 4.0 - the first draft is here

The first draft of HTML 4.0 has been posted by the The World Wide Web Consortium. It incorporates many features already appearing in browsers from Netscape and Microsoft and the W3C hopes the updated standard will help keep proprietary HTML extensions from fragmenting the World Wide Web. But even the consortium's lead architect admits compatibility between different implementations of 'dynamic' HTML is still short of the mark.

The first draft of HTML 4.0 has been posted by the The World Wide Web Consortium

The draft incorporates many features already appearing in browsers from Netscape and Microsoft, including Cascading Style Sheets, forms with different levels of access, frames and table enhancements, and support for international languages. It also supports scripting languages and adds to the events that can be triggered by scripts.

Although the updated standard will help keep proprietary HTML extensions from fragmenting the World Wide Web, it doesn't completely address compatibility between vendors' implementations of "dynamic" HTML, says Dave Raggett, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)'s lead HTML architect.

Dynamic HTML lets developers build interactive sites by writing scripts to define events and trigger actions. HTML 4.0 doesn't specify which scripting language developers should use, and a browser supporting Netscape's Visual JavaScript will have trouble interpreting a dynamic HTML site scripted using Microsoft's Visual Basic.

The market will determine the dynamic HTML outcome, Raggett says.

Another W3C group is working on Document Object Model (DOM), defining standard interfaces between browser events, style sheets, and scripts.

The group's DOM specification will supplement HTML 4.0, according to Raggett.

The HTML 4.0 draft may move to proposed recommendation in two months and become a final recommendation within the year, Raggett says.

The World Wide Web Consortium, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, can be reached at http://www.w3.org.

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