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W3C promotes XML 1.1 to Candidate Recommendation.

The technology that most current elearning standards are based on, eXtensible Markup Language (XML), is slowly advancing to a new version. Version 1.1 will be different mostly in how restrictive the spec is with regard to what is allowed, how newer or as yet undefined Unicode characters are handled in names and older linebreak codes more generally.

Easily the most important change in the new candidate recommendation for XML 1.1 is the change in philosphy about what is and what is not allowed with regard to character representation in XML names such as element type names, attribute names, enumerated attribute values, processing instruction targets, and so on. In version 1.0, everything that wasn't specifically allowed, was forbidden, and could cause documents to become invalid. In version 1.1, the policy is turned on its head: everything that is not specifically forbidden is allowed. The main benefit of this change is that it not only allows the XML spec to catch up with recent developments in the Unicode text encoding standard, but also removes the need to worry about a lot of future extensions and changes in Unicode. Other changes include a better way to handle the plain text linebreak conventions used in IBM mainframes and a new standardised representation method for arbitrary Unicode characters.

Relatively speaking, these are not particularly momentous changes, and most sections of the 1.0 spec do indeed carry straight over to 1.1. Yet the changes are substantial enough to require changes in programs that generate and parse XML data- should their developers wish to support XML 1.1.

This all presupposes that the current candidate recommendation makes it to full recommendation status. Translated from W3C speak that means 1.1 is almost done, but could do with some more implementation, and is liable to change as a result. Consultation about the candidate ends on February 14th. After that, if all goes well, it should become a recommendation- the final status of a spec in the W3C world.

The candidate recommendation is available at the W3C website.

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