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Re: What is the advantag of a "DOCTYPE declaration"

From: Ian B. Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 03 Dec 2001 16:38:42 +0100
Message-ID: <3C0B9C82.54F6FFB4@w3.org>
To: Markus.Meister@FinanzNachrichten.de
CC: site-comments@w3.org
"Markus Meister, FinanzNachrichten.de" wrote:
> So my question would be: What is the advantage of such 
> a DOCTYPE declaration? If there is an advantage, why do the
> biggest websites in the world not use such a declaration?
> Resp. what is the disadvantage, if we do not use a DOCTYPE declaration?


Here's a comment from one DOCTYPE supporter. I welcome comments
from others on this topic. You might also check out discussions
on the www-validator list [1]

The benefit to providing a DOCTYPE declaration is logical to me: it
allows the web page to indicate to what standard it conforms.  This is a
method of avoid ambiguity, even when the page does not conform to the
standard.  Any questionable parts of the document will be rendered in an
unpredictable way, with the variance of the rendering getting closer to
the author's intended appearance and functionality as the author
approached compliance with the DTD he or she has chosen to use.

We've all been to web sites where various parts are randomly
overlapping, or the credit-card field is only wide enough to see 2
characters at a time, or other problems that make it unusable.
Functionality increases as the author has better control over the
accurate understanding of the page's contents by the rendering agent -
the browser.  

Me, I don't use poorly-designed websites.  If the designer wanted me to
use them, they'd have made them usable.  "Voting with my dollars", I
favour sites with compliant pages -- but I assume I'm a minority.

Yahoo et al do not use DOCTYPE declaration because that opens them up to
compliance questions: "Well, now you say you're using a DTD; why do you
have so many errors?".  With the size of their generated pages, it would
be a herculean effort to make them compliant, one I'm sure they're not
willing to undertake.

 _ Ian
[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-validator/

Ian Jacobs (ij@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Tel:                     +1 718 260-9447
Received on Monday, 3 December 2001 10:38:45 UTC

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