Vlad Alexander (XStandard) wrote:
Lachlan, you have been on this list long enough to know that when you make extreme statements such as "since you're new, you might want to stick with HTML4" or "IE does not support XHTML", that debate will ensue.

So be it. If there are still people that don't understand XHTML for what it is, yet blindly attempt to use it, then the issues need to be discussed.

This is not what newcomers to Web Standards need. A better approach would have been to ask why this person needs/wants to use XHTML and if he/she has a good reason to do so, give this person advice on how to do it right.

Thank you for this very constructive advice, in future I will be more careful about how I phrase such things. But my message still stands: XHTML is not appropriate for an inexperienced HTML author to use, particularly with the current level of browser support.

To address your statement that "IE does not support XHTML" - this is not true. IE does support XHTML 1.0 - you and I just don't like the level of support IE offers.

No, the fact is that IE has no native support for XHTML at all. By the same logic you're claiming that it has limited support, then I could invent my own FooML language using similar element names and attributes to HTML, register the MIME type application/fooml+xml for it to use, serve it as text/html and claim that IE has limited support:

<!DOCTYPE FooML SYSTEM "http://example.org/fooml/dtd";>
<fooml xmlns="http://example.org/fooml/namespace";>
<title>This is a FooML Document</title>
<p>If I serve this as text/html, then IE will seem to support it.</p>
<p>I can even use scripts with a MIME type it it doesn't normally recognise.</p>
<script content-type="application/ecmascript">
alert("Hello World!");
// Since "content-type" is an non-existent attribute in HTML,
// the MIME type is ignored and tag soup browsers assumes it's
// JavaScript, even though most current browsers only widely
// recognise text/javascript.

Would you agree that IE has no support for FooML, or would you claim that it has limited support because the result is acceptable, when served with the wrong MIME type?

If you serve valid XHTML as HTML to IE, will there be any data loss? No!

If you serve invalid, ill-formed XHTML to any browser as text/html, will there be any data loss? The answer is the same, but that doesn't make it right.

Now, I don't want to give Hickson any more of my attention. But I will say that he and his groupies are not interested in teaching people how to use XHTML correctly.

I am interested in teaching people to use XHTML correctly, but experience shows that newcomers are far better off sticking with HTML4 until they are confident enough to fully understand the ramifications of using XHTML.

If we want to teach XHTML correctly, I'm all for doing so, but *we should actually teach XHTML /correctly/*. Despite any objections to the contrary, that means using the correct MIME type and gaining a full understanding of all the differences between HTML and XHTML, rather than just doing half the job by teaching them the syntax, getting them to throw in a few extra slashes and leaving it at that, thinking the rest is all the same as HTML. That is *not* teaching them correctly, and it's doing much more harm than good.

Lachlan Hunt
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