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during a panel session with the board of the W3 consortium, a gentleman explained that he is looking for a language to describe the human body on the web. his question to the board was: "since HTML is dead, would XML be a good solution for that ?" to my surprise, no one from the board made any comment about the first part of that question, therefore i asked the board if HTML is really dead. dave raggett, a co-author of the HTML specifications answered: "due to the huge amount of HTML documents available today, HTML will probably be around forever".
nevertheless, there was a conference in may 1998 about the future of HTML, where people discussed, if HTML should be developed any further at all. for details, see http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/future/
another remarkable event in the history of HTML was the announcement of version 4.0 of the HTML specification. V4.0 became a recommendation in december 1997. the status of a recommendation by the W3C is the highest possible status of such a document.
the specifications are available from the W3C webserver at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/