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

Elliotte Harold elharo at metalab.unc.edu
Wed Mar 7 08:13:42 PST 2007

Anne van Kesteren wrote:

> Personally I'd just give everyone HTML unless they specifically ask for 
> XML and even then those tools should be capable of handling HTML imo. 
> After all, it's the exchange format of the web.

Personally I'm happy just sending XHTML as text/html and letting the 
browsers and other tools do what they like with it. I don't hold to the 
belief that the MIME type is holy writ from GOD that clients must not 
modify for their convenience under penalty of hellfire and damnation. 
Nonetheless, some people do seem to believe that so this article offers 
them a reasonable alternative.

If one were conspiratorially minded, one might begin to wonder whether 
any reasonable alternative will be accepted, or if a lot of the 
arguments and claims are really designed merely to eliminate XHTML from 
consideration by making it too inconvenient for practical development. 
The insistence on sending XHTML as application/xhtml+xml is pretty 
pedantic, and without a lot of practical benefit. It's strange to see 
such a picky point being made by the same people who aren't all that 
interested in the much more useful standard of well-formedness. It's 
also strange that these are the same folks who are bending over 
backwards to maintain compatibility with older browsers in every area 
except this one little HTTP header field.

Indeed, if one were of a suspicious turn of mind, one might think the 
insistence on sending XHTML as application/xhtml+xml were nothing but a 
strategy to make XHTML so practically inconvenient that no one would 
consider it. But I don't have such a suspicious mind, so I'm sure it's 
all honest disagreement. :-)

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

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