The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has recommended the use of XHTML (Extensible HTML) 1.0. This, the consortium claims, will expand the use of XML (Extensible Markup Language) without making existing HTML elements obsolete.

XHTML 1.0 was created by rewriting HTML 4 as an XML application. It creates a specification that will work with HTML browsers and take advantage of XML's device-independent capabilities. According to Janet Daly, a spokesperson for the W3C, XHTML 1.0 will act as a "bridge" to connect the mostly-HTML-based Web with the benefits of XML.

Lacks style Daly said that: "HTML handles display adequately, but really doesn't allow for data manipulation. You can use style sheets in conjunction with HTML, but it doesn't change the structure of the document; it only changes the presentation aspect.

"As the Web is moving toward the XML direction, it became apparent that even the Web users of today and the Web authors of today using HTML want to be able to do more; they want to do more structurally, they want to reach more of the new users that are now demanding Web access."

According to the WC3, XHTML 1.0 "is stable, contributes to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C membership, who favour its adoption by the industry".

Easy does it Developers already writing HTML 4 documents should have a smooth transition into XHMTL 1.0, Daly said. He noted that the W3C provides tools to convert HTML 4 documents into XHTML. Daly added: "The tag set, the elements, and attributes [for XHTML] are all HTML 4, so there's no learning curve there." With the new specification, content developers will also be able to side-step the problem of rewriting documents for several different device types.

Daily said: "The W3C aims to ensure universality for the Web so that it's one universal information space in which all devices can be equal participants."

The growing number of wireless and mobile devices, such as Internet-enabled cell phones and Palm-type handheld devices, was a major part of the impetus behind the W3C's recommendation of XHTML 1.0 as well as its continuing efforts to create XHTML 1.1.