[whatwg] Using the HTML5 DOCTYPE as a new quirksmode switch

Alexey Feldgendler alexey at feldgendler.ru
Sat Mar 10 16:45:18 PST 2007

On Sat, 10 Mar 2007 14:41:15 +0100, Mihai Sucan <mihai.sucan at gmail.com>  

>> The tutorials will just say "Use <!DOCTYPE html>".

> Those are the tutorials for beginners. I was talking about advanced  
> tutorials, for developers who want to know "gory" details.

Even for advanced developers, the only sensible recommendation would be to  
use <!DOCTYPE html>. Description of other possibilities would only be of  
historical value.

>> Actually, the best standards mode available is the only right mode to  
>> work in. The other modes are only supported for backward compatibility  
>> with existing documents.

> So, this proposal sounds like "why not make this DOCTYPE switch to an  
> even stricter standards rendering mode in IE.next? then we can improve  
> IE without breaking existing sites". What this means, is that people  
> will create even more modern sites, which will use this new DOCTYPE and  
> the improved rendering engine (which will never be perfect). It's going  
> to be a loop: newer sites will rely on the newer rendering mode. So,  
> with each new version of IE (released every 5-10 years), we will have a  
> new DOCTYPE, and a new rendering mode?

Not necessarily. For a long time, Microsoft has been in a position where  
they benefit from the lack of interoperability with other browsers. They  
had no incentive to make their browser standards-compliant. Now times have  
changed, and even Microsoft, as far as I understand, is now willing to  
improve their standards compliance. So I don't think that the  
standards-mode story will repeat -- this happened before due to browser  
wars, where interoperability has been broken intentionally.

> Instead of using this DOCTYPE switch, I was even thinking of conditional  
> comments, DOM document property, etc. Yet, other methods only add  
> complications. If Microsoft considers adding a new rendering mode as a  
> must, such that it will not break many sites, then this DOCTYPE is an  
> elegant solution. History will repeat itself, no matter how elegant the  
> solution might be.

Conditonal comments and similar approaches solve another kind of problem:  
how to allow making pages which do the right thing in good browsers but  
still function in older browsers. OTOH, the DOCTYPE switch allows the  
browser to do the right thing for good pages without breaking the old  

Alexey Feldgendler <alexey at feldgendler.ru>
[ICQ: 115226275] http://feldgendler.livejournal.com

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