W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > April to June 2003

Re: accessify.com's review of RNIB relaunch

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 14:40:31 -0700
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
To: James Craig <work@cookiecrook.com>
Message-Id: <A5648DEA-A755-11D7-9537-000393D9E692@idyllmtn.com>

On Wednesday, June 25, 2003, at 02:18 PM, James Craig wrote:
> Such as:
>  - A customed designed kiosk?
>  - That refridgerator that downloads recipes?
>  - Some old WAP phone made with WML in mind but not HTML?
>  - Some new mobile device?
>  - That car that downloads it's own OS updates?
>  - etc., etc.

How are those arguments for XHTML?  What are the advantages of XHTML
over HTML in these cases?

> I've got more if you want 'em. ;) The reasons behind moving hypertext 
> to semantic XML are highly steeped in future-compatibility and 
> accessibility, whatever that future may be.

XHTML is no more "semantic XML" than HTML is "semantic SGML."  We're
not talking about the difference between <font> tags and <h1>.  We're
talking about the difference between the same page and the same tags,
but one of them is written like this:


And one is written like this:


What argument can you provide that the latter is more accessible?
Cars downloading their own OS updates?  Huh?  Are the new car-based
browsers going to refuse to display HTML pages?

> People today are still too hung up on "web browsers" and fail to see 
> the potential of opening the web up to user-agents in a myriad of 
> devices.

Except I'm not hung up on that at all, so you need a new explanation.

A better explanation is "people are hung up on XML, because it's 'new'
and thus buzzwordy, and they haven't stopped to consider whether or not
XHTML is -really- more accessible than HTML."

Yes, yes, your flying magical car.  Let's talk reality:  Your nifty
car will continue to understand HTML for years and years.  Arguing that
something which doesn't exist yet is a reason seems to be a poor reason
for doing something.

Back to the main question:  Please tell me what accessibility benefit
you gain from writing a page as valid XHTML 1.0 instead of valid HTML
4.01. (The answer is:  There isn't one.)

Sure, you can pull up other advantages -- "I can use my XML development
tools on it" -- and that's all well and nice.  But by itself, XHTML is
not automatically more accessible than HTML, and anyone who claims
otherwise is simply incorrect.

>> XHTML also has the drawback that, if there is a single error, it will
>> not display in any XHTML browser or XML parser.
> Good. Why is that a drawback?

Because it doesn't do anything to the Web developer, just to the Web
user. It puts the problem on the wrong person.

> In hindsight, a lot of people consider it a drawback that HTML was 
> /ever/ "forgiving". It allowed all those developers to become lazy.

No, this is historical revisionism.

Besides, we are talking about non-lazy, valid HTML 4.01.  We're not
talking about spaghetti code in either XHTML or HTML.


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                     http://kynn.com
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain                http://idyllmtn.com
Author, CSS in 24 Hours                       http://cssin24hours.com
Inland Anti-Empire Blog                      http://blog.kynn.com/iae
Shock & Awe Blog                           http://blog.kynn.com/shock
Received on Wednesday, 25 June 2003 17:35:04 UTC

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