Hixie's Natural Log

2003-03-07 21:49 UTC Is there a void in the W3C's gamut of markup languages?

Back a long time ago I mentioned Battlegrounds, a Web-based game. Since then, development has continued, and the same codebase, now under the name Voidwars, features a dizzying array of features such as NPCs, intelligence networks, a huge technology tree, and, internally, support for multiple simultaneous games.

From a technical point of view, Voidwars is a great example of a Web-based application for which HTML is highly unsuitable. It isn't a document: it's an application. XUL is in fact more suitable, although it is non-standard so that isn't an option for the Voidwars developers. Voidwars uses the style attribute extensively, which in itself is an indication that it isn't a document: as I've mentioned before, XHTML2 shouldn't need the style attribute — only in non-document markup languages such as SVG (a presentational language) do you need style to be right there in the markup.

What to do about this apparent hole in the W3C fold — that is, the lack of language with widely recognised metadata semantics suitable for authoring UIs — is unclear. On the one hand, maybe standardising a language like XUL would help for many projects of this nature, but on the other, it wouldn't actually have helped much in the case of Voidwars: what Voidwars needs is a language with elements like <planet>, <wormhole> or <spacestation>!

Instead, this might be a case where it is reasonable to expect the system to be simply based on CSS, DOM, pure XML, and an active scripting language. This doesn't mean that the solution will be necessarily device-dependent, although that certainly is a likely result, unless someone goes out of their way to implement the application for several different media. But of course, that actually isn't any worse than what we have now: try to use Voidwars, or most other Web applications that are heavily DOM and CSS based, on media other than your typical Web browser, and you'll find they simply don't work.

Anyway, if there are still any free places (yes, places are strictly limited!), then you should go and sign up!

Pingbacks: 1