Sam Brown

Zeldman - In defense of web developers

“It has only been a few days but I am already sick of the “XHTML is bullshit, man!” crowd using the cessation of XHTML 2.0 activity to condescend to—or even childishly glory in the “folly” of—web developers who build with XHTML 1.0, a stable W3C recommendation for nearly ten years, and one that will continue to work indefinitely.”

What Jeffrey Zeldman then goes on to say in In defense of web developers is something that I think a lot of people are glossing over:

“All of this is to say that XHTML is not dead (XHTML 2 is dead, thank goodness), and HTML 5 is not here yet. Between now and 2022, we have plenty of time to learn about HTML 5 and contribute to the discussion—and browser makers have 13 years to get it right.”

So yes, HTML 5 will be the way forward in the future, XHTML 2 is dead but there is nothing wrong with XHTML 1 currently. That date isn’t some arbitrary number either it’s the date for the final proposed recommendation.

For the time being and in the immediate future I’ll be sticking to XHTML 1. Will you?

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Jos 7 July 2009, 06:08 #1

I’ll be sticking with HTML 4.01 for my projects. I find that it renders more consistently in my target browsers. There’s nothing that make me interested in switching to XHTML. I’m happy to stay as I am until HTML 5 becomes mainstream.

Nathan Smith 7 July 2009, 10:25 #2

I’ll be switching to HTML5, but will continue to write to the strict-ness of XHTML, and will keep the <tag …/> syntax, because I think it’s more explicit what’s a wrap-tag and what’s self-closing. I will be moving to HTML5 mainly because it is more terse. Specifically, I like these aspects of it:

1. Simpler doctype.
2. Doesn’t require:
— 2.A. type=“text/css”
— 2.B. type=“text/javascript”
— 2.C. /* <![CDATA[ */
— 2.D. Block-level tags inside <form>

Plus, HTML5 will continue to be actively developed, so I’ll be ready once browsers do start adopting the new tags such as <canvas> and <video>. For now, I’ll just be using the typical tags that are safely cross-browser compatible.

I already changed over the 960 Grid System site to HTML5, since it’s essentially just a one-pager —

Adrian Rodriguez 7 July 2009, 11:12 #3

I think I am going to move forward into using HTML5 especially since some of what Nathan talks about, that will make it a little easier to do things, not to mention a little bit of increased productivity and functionality.

The backwards compatibility and new syntax and elements like <article> and <section> etc…will serve as a nice way to organize your page structure.

That combined with some awesome CSS3 and you have a kick awesome website on your hands.

Rogie 7 July 2009, 11:55 #4

I’m actually in Nathan’s camp as well. What I admire in you Sam is that you don’t sway because the masses do. That’s cool. I think that XHTML 1 has served me well so far and it’s been a good road. However, I’ll move on to HTML 5 with a dedication to keeping my code commented, cleaned up, closing my tags, and formatted.

In addition, I’ll probably never comply with CSS validity. I’ll continue to use bleeding edge and experimental CSS to enhance the user’s experience where possible.


Robert Evans 7 July 2009, 12:02 #5

Just to make note, the video element is supported by FF 3.5, Safari 4 and I think Opera as well. FF 3.5 supports OGV and Safari 4 supports MP4 and quicktime. Canvas is supported on opera and firefox, but safari is lagging.

For video, you can provide an embed alternate for those browsers that don’t yet support the video element.

Driz 9 July 2009, 03:27 #6

I actually feel more confused than ever. And I thought the standards were meant to simplify the whole system :/ I mean what exactly is XHTML and HTML? Why would I use one other the other. The way I saw it was HTML was old, and XHTML was the modern version that used proper tags and semantic code. Now they’re saying XHTML is bad and HTML is the way forward??? What gives! I think they need to clear as to what we’re heading towards, and this whole 2022 bullshit is ludicrous. In 13 years HTML5 will be obsolete we’ll have some other crazy system in place, so what’s the point in waiting that long?

Can anyone clear all this up?

Ryan Roberts 12 July 2009, 00:13 #7

I don’t see the point in XHTML 1 other than to keep misinformed people who believe it is better happy. I have no use for any of the advanced technologies of XHTML but I do need it to work in IE so HTML 4.01 is the logical choice.

The HTML 5 spec should be ready in a couple of months and then finalised for use by 2012, between then and 2022 browser vendors are expected to start actively implementing it and feeding back to the spec for improvements. As Ian Hickson pointed out, 2022 is the date expected for two browser to have complete support for HTML 5, this hasn’t happened before even for XHTML 1 or HTMl 4.01.

Ryan Roberts 12 July 2009, 00:22 #8

Oh yes and I’ll be switching to HTML 5 depending on the projects. Right now I use XHTML 1 for most clients as they still believe it is the best option, I use HTMl 4.01 for select and personal projects so this is where I’m likely to start using HTML 5.

As Nathan points out the simplified doctype and increased semantic elements to take advantage of… amongst all the other things.

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Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.