[whatwg] text/html vs. application/xhtml+xml

Elliotte Harold elharo at metalab.unc.edu
Thu Nov 30 09:56:36 PST 2006

Henri Sivonen wrote:

> (Still, I am against efforts to make it appear that the text/html and 
> application/xhtml+xml syntaxes are one thing.)

I actually do serve some pages as application/xhtml+xml, and they are 
real, valid XHTML 1.0. However I get periodic complaints about these 
pages because IE6 (and possibly other versions) won't even try to 
display these.

It's important to understand that resistance to distinguishing text/html 
from application/xhtml+xml derives primarily from lack of legacy browser 
support, not from any deliberate desire to conflate the two.

Poor default MIME type mappings in server software, and an inability of 
many document authors to specify their own HTTP Content-type headers 
also contribute substantially to the problem.

Both of those issues really need to be fixed before you can expect XHTML 
publishers not to overload text/html. Consequently I think any effort to 
distinguish between XHTML and classic HTML based on MIME media types is 
doomed to fail for at least the next two or three years.

Hmm, it looks IE7 doesn't fix this bug:


Consequently extend that estimate to 5-6 years before we can even 
consider expelling XHTML from the text/html MIME space. :-(

Elliotte Rusty Harold  elharo at metalab.unc.edu
Java I/O 2nd Edition Just Published!

More information about the whatwg mailing list