[whatwg] Configure Apache to send the right MIME type for XHTML

Michael(tm) Smith mike at w3.org
Wed Mar 7 07:09:15 PST 2007

Elliotte Harold <elharo at metalab.unc.edu>, 2007-03-07 09:12 -0500:

> Alexey Feldgendler wrote:
> >Interesting, but not of much use. If an author really wants to support 
> >MSIE, she needs to not only ensure that MSIE tries to render the document 
> >at all by setting its MIME type to text/html, but also to not use anything 
> >XHTML-specific that isn't possible in HTML, e.g. <p> inside <li>, or 
> >inline SVG. And if one isn't going to use these features anyway, there is 
> >no reason to prefer XHTML over HTML other than following the fashion.
> Documents on the web aren't just about browsers, and certainly not just 
> about IE. There are many interesting things you can do with XHTML 
> documents you can't do with non-well-formed HTML documents. Personally 
> I'm most enamored of using XSLT to process them. However, the biggest 
> benefit for most developers is likely to be the simpler, cleaner, more 
> reliable DOM you get with a well-formed document. If you can go to valid 
> strict XHTML, the benefits get even larger.
> If your primary experience with HTML is displaying it in a browser, this 
> may not be apparent; but for those of us who have to write code to 
> process this stuff well-formedness and simplicity are major advantages.


It's really amusing to see people continuing to trot out
matter-of-fact statements dismissing XHTML. Those statements seem
to fall into two basic types that can be paraphrased as either:

  - The only people who author documents in XHTML are naive
    developers/designers who do it just because they have been
    mislead into thinking that it's the cool/right thing to do.

  - The only people who user/serve-up XHTML are pedants who are
    out of touch with browser/implementation realities.

It seems to me that those who make such statements either:

  - are unaware of any useful things that can be done with
    documents other than just displaying them in browsers -- or
    about how having those as well-formed XML can potentially make
    it easier to process them

  - have an agenda that makes them (consciously or unconsciously)
    want to dissuade others from using XHTML/XML (and XSLT, etc.)
    and to instead use alternatives (whatever alternatives they
    happen to personally be promoting)

I don't think anybody can find fault with developers who speak
from experience and say they don't personally use/serve-up XHTML
because for their specific needs they see no value in doing so.

But that's a whole different thing than making matter-of-fact
blanket/wholesale dismissals of XHTML -- statements that imply
that no other sane/hip developer could potentially find value in
use of XHTML.


Michael(tm) Smith

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