[html5] 4.01 vs XHTML

Prof. T.D. Wilson wilsontd at gmail.com
Mon Oct 15 05:20:49 PDT 2012

I'm not at all clear why you would choose to use html 4.01 instead of
html5?  True, the latter is not yet fully confirmed as a standard, but most
new versions of browsers appear to be able to cope with it, so why stick
with 4.01?

The main virtue of xhtml to my mind is the discipline it creates in the use
of tags - requiring end tags, for example, and in the formal nesting of
tags - if your site or page validates as xhtml then you can be pretty sure
it is going to be readable by anything - and of course, you can retain that
discipline in switching to html5, although my understanding is that you do
not need to do so.

Some of html5 is clumsy for some purposes - but I guess that is always
going to be the case. For example, the syntax of <article> and <section>
will vary depending upon the nature of the page.  The analogy often used is
a paper that has sections composed of articles, but an electronic scholarly
journal is going to have articles composed of sections - each article is
the basic unit of the journal, whereas in a newspaper the basic units are
sections; if a strict syntax was introduced that said, in effect,
'sections' can only be used within 'articles', the journal editor would not
be happy!  So the lack of formal syntax here is actually an advantage,
given the wide range of uses to which html is going to be put.

Another point to be wary about in html5 is that it is touted as having
'semantic' tags - it doesn't.  'Semantic' has to do with representing
meaning (i.e., what the enclosed text etc. is *about*) and the so-called
semantic tags say nothing about the meaning of what they enclose but only
about the kind of information one might find there. So, 'footer' is not
semantic - it only tells you the location of the information, but not what
kind of information is there, because you can place in the footer whatever
you wish; similarly, the 'header' and 'nav' tags are only location
indicators - you could use the 'nav' tag, for example, to put any kind of
information in, rather than navigation pointers .  I'm not sure where this
notion that these things are 'semantic' comes from - certainly not from
anyone who has looked at a dictionary definition of the word! :-)

On 15 October 2012 06:52, Jukka K. Korpela <jukka.k.korpela at kolumbus.fi>wrote:

> 2012-10-15 0:42, Bjartur Thorlacius wrote:
>> David Osborne wrote:
>>> If I am writing in Html 4.01... is this really bad...??
>>> When I put in the declaration of which type of HTML - 4.01 transitional
>>> show how old my software is...?
>> HTML 4.01 is fine if you don't need any of the new features of HTML 5.
> You can in practice use an HTML 4.01 doctype even if you use the new
> features of HTML5, even though HTML5 tells that you should not do that.
> Support to new features does not depend on the doctype declaration.
> The practical problem is in validation. If you use new HTML5 features and
> some features declared obsolete in HTML5, you cannot get a clean validator
> report without making your own validator, or at least your own DTD. But
> validation is not obligatory; it's a tool, not an end.
>  Most importantly, not using elements such as <nav> may make your site
>> less accessible.
> Is there a single piece of evidence of such things actually happening? I
> mean browsers or assistive software really paying attention to <nav>
> markup, and in a useful way at that? There are things they could do with
> some new HTML5 elements to improve accessibility, but just saying they
> could does not make it happen.
>>  XHTML - what is the difference between it and html 4.01??
>>>  There are slight syntactical and extensibility differences. If you
>> don't need the extensibility of XHTML (which you probably can't quite
>> leverage anyway), you should probably stick with HTML. The WHATWG is
>> essentially deprecating XHTML for most purposes.
>>  I think that's quite confusing and reflects several misunderstandings.
> But this question itself is not about HTML5 at all. XHTML existed before
> HTML5, and within the HTML5 way of thinking, XHTML is just an alternative
> linearization, to be used if you just prefer it, or if you need to have
> your HTML5 document processed using tools that require the content to
> conform to XML rules.
> --
> Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~**jkorpela/ <http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/>
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Professor T.D. Wilson, PhD, Hed.Dr, PhD (h.c.)
Publisher and Editor in Chief: Information Research:
an international electronic journal
Website - http://InformationR.net/ir/ <http://informationr.net/ir/>

Blog - http://info-research.blogspot.com/
Photoblog - http://tomwilson.shutterchance.com/
E-mail: wilsontd at gmail.com
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