Why I Use HTML 4.01 Strict
A couple days ago, Surfin’ Safari posted a guide on understanding HTML, XML and XHTML, in which they recommend against using XHTML for a few reasons.
Initially after reading the above blog entry, I decided to write my own, defending my decision to use XHTML strict. My main reason was because I take comfort in rules. I like the idea of having to close every tag that opens.
I'm no expert on the subject, but I've read what many of the cited experts have to say. As far as I can tell, every argument against using XHTML is based on one or both of two premises:
- In the event that you decide to change the MIME type to "application/xhtml+xml" or "text/xml", you'll probably forget to make sure your page still works and validates as XML. In other words, you're most likely an idiot.
- Even if your page does validate, you're still setting a bad example for others who are even more ignorant than yourself.
Reading these arguments, my first reaction is that I don't want to associate myself with the HTML advocates and their condescending arguments against those who use XHTML. I am also a little tweaked after noticing a rising trend: For every popular new site or redesign using XHTML, there's always one person who has to publicly challenge the site owner's decision to do so. Is it out of a desire to be the smartest person in the room? I don't know, but at the very least it comes off as rude.
The Turning Point
Despite the above reflexes, and instead of defending XHTML, I decided to convert the site to HTML. I became increasingly uncomfortable that I was serving XHMTL with an HTML MIME type. That was all I needed to know, and the perfectionist in me won out. If this site even exists at a point in time when I can convert it to XHTML using an "application/xhtml+xml" MIME type, without losing both of my viewers, I'll be happy to make the switch back to XHTML.
As for the experts who feel that insulting their readers is somehow persuasive, it's not. If we care enough to read your explanations, chances are we aren't part of the "problem".