On 25 January 2011 09:44, <grant_malcolm_bai...@westnet.com.au> wrote:

> Hello,
> Could someone please clarify this for me. I realise that HTML5 has
> introduced new semantic elements such as <header>, <aside> etc., but does
> this really increase the expressive power of the markup?

In the long run, yes this increases the expressive power of markup. Some
moves are more obviously practical than others, eg. <section> means for the
first time HTML can have heading levels more than six deep - lawyers' web
developers will be pleased ;) Pity we didn't get a generic heading element
to go with section, but cest la vie.

Can't the same thing be achieved in HTML 4.x using classes (e.g. <p
> class="header">)?

Yes, the same semantics could have been applied using attributes; but the
WHATWG chose to mint new elements instead. Although few systems make
real/significant use of the new semantic elements, in time they will and
they provide some meaning HTML4 could not provide with elements alone.

On the flip side, you can do basically the same thing right away using
HTML4/XHTML and WAI-ARIA (and for some specific cases, Microformats); and
I've seen a few recommendations to use both HTML5 and WAI-ARIA together,
with WAI-ARIA bridging the implementation gaps in the meantime.

> I am reluctant to move to HTML5 due to the issue of backwards
> compatibility.

There's no harm moving to the doctype and just sticking to the HTML4 element
set - that way you can legitimately start using new features as they are
supported (sites like http://caniuse.com/ help identify those).

There's also no harm sticking HTML4, you just can't (validly) use the new
HTML5 markup features.

If you're maintaining a web app that already requires JS for functionality,
there's no real harm using a javascript solution like shiv to enable use of
the new elements across browsers.

So it all depends what you need to achieve and what benefit you'd get from


--- <http://weblog.200ok.com.au/>
--- The future has arrived; it's just not
--- evenly distributed. - William Gibson

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