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

L. David Baron dbaron at dbaron.org
Wed Mar 7 10:08:49 PST 2007

On Thursday 2007-03-08 00:09 +0900, Michael(tm) Smith wrote:
> 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:

My dismissal doesn't fall into either of those types.

My dismissal of XHTML is that the designers of XHTML and related
standards are repeatedly introducing more and more incompatibility
between XHTML and HTML, which makes it progressively harder for
authors to transition to XHTML (particularly to do so gradually on a
large site).

For example:

 * The W3C XHTML Working Group insists that all the HTML-specific
   statements in CSS don't apply to XHTML (and got the CSS working
   group to put this into the CSS specs).  This means that an author
   converting HTML to XHTML doesn't need to just convert the syntax
   used in their markup (including case of tags), they may also need
   to make significant redesigns to their CSS to avoid depending on
   the HTML-specific rules in CSS.

 * When namespace APIs were added in DOM Level 2, the W3C DOM
   Working Group insisted that HTML (which has no concept of
   namespaces) be reflected into those APIs as though it were a
   series of elements in no namespace.  This is different from the
   way XHTML is reflected, which means that in many cases it is
   significantly harder than it should be to write a script that
   works with both XHTML and HTML (which is necessary for site-wide
   scripts when one is starting to use XHTML on a site, especially
   if the use case for switching to XHTML is compound documents,
   where there might be elements called "a" that aren't HTML a
   elements).  Fortunately the WHATWG HTML5 spec reverses this bad

Almost all of the claimed advantages of XHTML come from its
XML-ness, so why keep adding more incompatibility just for purity's

My dismissal of XHTML is that if those designing standards that are
not yet widely adopted (compared to HTML) keep making it harder and
harder to transition, they'll prevent that transition from ever
occurring.  And if that transition is never going to occur on a
large scale, why worry about it?


L. David Baron                                <URL: http://dbaron.org/ >
           Technical Lead, Layout & CSS, Mozilla Corporation
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