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Why XHTML?

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Structure of the Internet by opte

As we have just noticed the real question should acutally be Why is semantic – be it HTML or XHTML – better than non-semantical, presentational ?

What’s the purpose of XHTML?

To be honest using XHTML instead of HTML (I am speaking of the strictDTDs is most of the times a burdon.

So, XHTML causes a lot of problems. Some of these problems on the other side are XHTMLs strengths.

The enforcement of wellformedness makes developing webpages actually more comforting since it makes finding problems in markup, stylsheet or javascript easier. It resolves ambiguities HTML sometimes cannot resolve, i.e. XHTML demands of the writer to be clear, not nesting elements in some chaotic way which the parser has to sort out.

The only real benefit of using XHTML over HTML is its extensibility as the following quote suggests:

The reason you really want to use XHTML is when you are going to use other markup languages like MathML and mix them together.

The misbehavior of THE browser regarding documents sent as application/xhtml+xml nullifies these advantages, though. The alternative would be to abandon the support of THAT browser if one would like to or is forced to use extensions like Ruby Annotation, LiteraryML, MusicML or MathML.

Conclusion

To answer the question from the first paragraph Why is semantic markup – be it HTML or XHTML – better than non-semantical, presentational markup? one should read through the just recently published entry The Economics of XHTML on Pieces Of Rakesh and the comments to that entry. Reading that entry please keep in mind that it’s actually ‚semantic vs. presentational‚ rather than ‚html vs. xhtml‚.

Nailing it down

It does not matter whether one uses HTML 4.01 strict or XHTML 1.0 strict / 1.1 as long as the markup is done semantically or sometimes even structurally but NEVER presentationally.

Due to all the obstructions XTHML holds it seems reasonable to use HTML 4.01 strict. XHTML opens the can of extensibility, though.

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  1. Why XHTML? revised :: DenkZEIT | 2004/10/13 at 01:08 | Permalink

    […] r: Markup — Steffen @ 03:08

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    I have asked that question some time ago and came to the conclusion that it’s more a que […]

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