W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-validator@w3.org > June 2003

Re: Questions about XHTML

From: Jonathan Chetwynd <j.chetwynd@btinternet.com>
Date: Sun, 8 Jun 2003 08:41:10 +0100
Cc: "'www-validator@w3.org'" <www-validator@w3.org>
To: Clint Brooks <CBROOKS@nwacc.cc.ar.us>
Message-Id: <92C8DADE-9984-11D7-8B79-0003939B5AD0@btinternet.com>

to what Terje Bless has said I would add:

In order that user agents or browsers can display bad HTML they have 
become very bloated.
XHTML allows very much smaller user agents to display good code.

The downside is that bad code wont get displayed at all by some 
browsers, try amaya to see this in action.

I also have misgivings about this route, as a teacher of people with 
severe learning difficulties.
Our users would need very forgiving UA, as many of our users cannot 
read or write; so instead we have chosen to create an XHTML template 
authoring tool.

anyway this discussion should be restricted to another place.

best wishes


On Friday, June 6, 2003, at 04:46  pm, Clint Brooks wrote:

> Greetings,
> I was wondering if someone could provide me with some technical 
> information on the XHTML standard.  I am not a programmer but work in 
> technology with end users.
> Some of the great advantages of the original HTML standard were the 
> ease of use and the flexibility with which the code could be used.  
> This enabled non-programmers and non-computer experts to engage in 
> their first publishing experience and as you are all aware opened up a 
> new era of communication.  The simplicity and flexibility of the 
> standard was a key element of that, along with the fact that web pages 
> could be designed with the bare minimum of software: a text editor.
> From my experience with XHTML so far, it seems that any such ideals 
> are being left behind in a rush to recapture web publishing in the 
> traditional software paradigm.  The changes to the standard, 
> particularly in the basic flexibility of the way in which it could be 
> written as well as fundamental changes to some of the basic HTML tags, 
> seem ill considered at best and conspiratorial at worst.  I have heard 
> more than a few times the suggestion that the changes are in part an 
> attempt to force web authors to rely on software companies overpriced 
> web editing software to be able to keep up, a suggestion I hope is 
> inaccurate but one that carries a good deal of weight given the 
> disinterest the W3C seems to have with the average person's ability to 
> continue to use the language unaided.
> The questions then have to do with trying to understand why certain 
> changes in the standard have been chosen.  For example:  Why force 
> authors using XHTML to artificially "close" otherwise straightforward 
> tags such as <br> and <img> with <br /> and <img /> when the tags 
> themselves are singular in usage?  It is not adequate enough to 
> suggest the need to "migrate" XHTML to other standards.  As the 
> central language of the WWW it would seem that other systems and 
> hardware that wish to take advantage of web communications should 
> migrate to the web standard, especially given that the current usage 
> of these media as web communication tools is a small percentage of the 
> overall usage.
> Flexibility is another issue of course.  The most obvious example of 
> the W3C's insistence on "cleaning up" usage for example is the 
> requirement that <p> tags be closed.  For years a sizeable number of 
> users (one might argue a majority) used the <p> tag much in the way 
> the <br> tag was used, in order to create a full line space break.  
> The official use of the <p> was consider by many users to be simple 
> excess, especially considering the need for smaller, faster loading 
> pages at the time (a problem that is still with us today due to 
> addendums such as lengthy CSS and attached scripts, cookies, and other 
> programming fodder).  It would seem that the need for a simple tag to 
> create the kind of line break the <p> was being used for was clear, 
> and much more a priority of the average user than the extended <p> 
> tag. (In all honesty if a substitute for a single use <p> tag exists, 
> I'm not aware of it, though would be happy to be educated as to what 
> it is, even at the risk of looking like a newbie.)
> There are many other criticisms that I have read of the XHTML 
> standard, ones I'm sure this list are familiar with and that are too 
> detailed for me to address. Suffice to say that I see the day coming 
> when users will be forced to rely on Microsoft or Adobe in order to 
> create the most basic webpages that meet standards as the changes in 
> HTML/XHTML keep coming.  I hope some of you can offer some hope that 
> is not the case, or if not at least provide legitimate and sound 
> reasons why it must be so.
> Sincerely,
> Clint Brooks, M.Ed.
> cbrooks@nwacc.edu
> "Flames ignored, thoughts welcomed"
Received on Sunday, 8 June 2003 03:37:46 UTC

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