This specification defines an abstract language for describing documents and applications, and some APIs for interacting with in-memory representations of resources that use this language.

The in-memory representation is known as “DOM HTML”, or “the DOM” for short.

There are various concrete syntaxes that can be used to transmit resources that use this abstract language, two of which are defined in this specification.

The first such concrete syntax is the HTML syntax. This is the format suggested for most authors. It is compatible with most legacy Web browsers. If a document is transmitted with the text/html MIME type, then it will be processed as an HTML document by Web browsers. This specification defines version 5 of the HTML syntax, known as “HTML5”.

The second concrete syntax is the XHTML syntax, which is an application of XML. When a document is transmitted with an XML MIME type, such asapplication/xhtml+xml, then it is treated as an XML document by Web browsers, to be parsed by an XML processor. Authors are reminded that the processing for XML and HTML differs; in particular, even minor syntax errors will prevent a document labeled as XML from being rendered fully, whereas they would be ignored in the HTML syntax. This specification defines version 5 of the XHTML syntax, known as “XHTML5”.

The DOM, the HTML syntax, and the XHTML syntax cannot all represent the same content. For example, namespaces cannot be represented using the HTML syntax, but they are supported in the DOM and in the XHTML syntax. Similarly, documents that use the noscript feature can be represented using the HTML syntax, but cannot be represented with the DOM or in the XHTML syntax. Comments that contain the string “-->” can only be represented in the DOM, not in the HTML and XHTML syntaxes.

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