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RE: XHTML and MIME (was: IBM Position Statement on XForms and Web Forms 2.0)

From: Klotz, Leigh <Leigh.Klotz@xerox.com>
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2006 15:52:58 -0700
Message-ID: <E254B0A7E0268949ABFE5EA97B7D0CF402264D97@usa7061ms01.na.xerox.net>
To: "Doug Schepers" <doug@schepers.cc>, <public-appformats@w3.org>, <www-forms@w3.org>, <www-archive@w3.org>

I recall at the CDF workshop http://www.w3.org/2004/04/webapps-cdf-ws/
one of the participants promoting view #1 being asked by one promoting
view #2 "Where were you when we had the Future of the Web meeting in in
1998 where we decided to end SGML-based HTML and move to XML based
XHTML?" and #1 responded "I was still in school."  

I believe there are indeed people who believe that HTML is a part of the
landscape, and cannot be changed, because it was already there and
static by the time they were first aware of it.   Consequently, they
aren't the people who invented it, and have no understanding of how it
came to be, or how it could change.  The continued reference to
"bug-compatible IE" markup was a constant theme during the CDF workshop;
all the while, Microsoft's representatives were talking about the
exciting work they were doing with XAML, which they said was a strict
XML language designed for UI applications.

-----Original Message-----
From: www-forms-request@w3.org [mailto:www-forms-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Doug Schepers
Sent: Thursday, August 31, 2006 3:27 PM
To: public-appformats@w3.org; www-forms@w3.org; www-archive@w3.org
Subject: XHTML and MIME (was: IBM Position Statement on XForms and Web
Forms 2.0)


Hi-
 
There seems to be a major divide between people who believe that XHTML
cannot or should not be used on the Web (largely because IE does not yet
understand it), and those that believe it can and should.

It is this fundamental schism that must be resolved before we can all
reach
a solution to this current debate that we are happy with.  I'm going to
outline the debate as I see it, but if I have missed the subtleties of
some
argument, it is through an error and not malice.

Ian Hickson, the champion of the first camp, has outlined his position
[1]
in a paper that seems to be the seminal claim for the notion that XHTML
cannot be served with the "text/html" MIME Type.  This paper is often
cited,
but doesn't discuss content negotiation.  Ian has substantiated and
expanded
his claim with a study of existing Web content (which he performed at
Google), that seems to indicate that even content which is meant to be
XHTML
(regardless of the MIME Type) is in the main not valid or well-formed
(IIRC,
though I don't know how that compares with the validity/well-formedness
of
existing HTML content).  The conclusion seems to be that XHTML, and by
extension XML, is suboptimal, and that the path forward on the Web
should be
based on HTML, which is viewable in legacy browsers (i.e. IE).

The other camp believes that the pragmatic benefits of serving XHTML
outweigh the technicalities described by Ian.  They believe that the
proliferation of XML-based tools and UAs, and the more extensible nature
of
XML as regards namespaces and mixed content, as well as other benefits
of
XML, are more compelling than the current state of some browsers, which
are
subject to change.  The practicalities of this approach are described by
the
Web Standards Project [2], which explicitly resolves the MIME Type issue
via
content negotiation or a relaxed MIME Type.  Ian's larger claim that
even if
served with the correct MIME Type, much existing content will largely
still
not be viewable with existing browsers is not addressed by this
argument,
but is presumed to be a transitional phenomenon.  

Thoughts?  Did I correctly frame the debate?

[1] http://www.hixie.ch/advocacy/xhtml 
[2] http://www.webstandards.org/learn/articles/askw3c/sep2003/ 

Regards-
Doug
Received on Thursday, 31 August 2006 22:53:30 GMT

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