Misunderstanding Markup


On this comic‘s panel 9 describes XHTML 1.1 conformance as:

the added unrealistic demand that documents must be served with an XML mime-type

I can understand this viewpoint. XHTML 1.1 is a massively misunderstood spec, particularly around the modularization angle. But because of IE, it’s pretty rare to see the XHTML media-type in use on the open web. Later, panel 23 or thereabouts:

If you want, you can even serve your documents as application/xhtml+xml, instantly transforming them from HTML 5 to XHTML 5.

Why the shift in tone? What makes serving the XML media type more realistic in the HTML 5 case? IE? Nope, still doesn’t work. I’ve observed this same shift in perspective from multiple people involved in the HTML5 work, and it baffles me. In XHTML 1.1 it’s a ridiculous demand showing how out of touch the authors were with reality. In HTML5 the exact same requirement is a brilliant solution, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

As it stands now, the (X)HTML5 situation demotes XHTML to the backwaters of the web. Which is pretty far from “Long Live XHTML…”, as the comic concludes. Remember when X stood for Extensible?


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3 Replies to “Misunderstanding Markup”

  1. I think the whole HTML5 thing is way past reason. Don’t try to look at it from that angle.

    It’s the W3C people on the one hand saying “respect us!” and the WHAT WG/browser people saying “we’re in control now”.

    There are certainly technical merits, problems, etc with HTML5, but as it currently looks they won’t matter anymore and be completely drowned in the fight between those groups.

  2. Going by current experience, let’s hope that no one actually serves up “XHTML5” pages. I’ve seen maybe two real XHTML pages, served as XHTML and actually well-formed XML and valid XHTM (I’m talking about 1.0 or 1.1 here). All the rest have numerous well-formedness errors, illegal elements or attributes, and are usually served as *HTML*. So it seems very unlikely to me that any XHTML5 pages will be either well-formed or served as anything but HTML for a very long time to come.

    1. Don’t fall in to the trap of thinking browsers are the whole world. There’s lots of interesting stuff happening with XHTML even outside that space.

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