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why valid was Re: why XHTML

From: Matt May <mcmay@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 14:54:18 -0700
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
To: tina@greytower.net
Message-Id: <91CCAAA3-A757-11D7-9CD0-000393B628BC@w3.org>

On Wednesday, June 25, 2003, at 02:20  PM, tina@greytower.net wrote:

> On 25 Jun, Matt May wrote:
>> So? Same's true of HTML 4.01 Strict: Amaya refuses to render invalid
>> Strict content. But the other browser makers (rightly) assume that 
>> it's
>> better to accommodate the user by working around errors in authored
>> content than to punish them.
>   Should we interpret that to mean that a user-agent should
>   "accommodate" users by ignoring parts of the XML specs when rendering
>   XHTML ?

The only reason the browsers do any kind of repair at all is because a 
user would reasonably believe that, if they went to look at a page and 
saw nothing, it would be the fault of the browser. The browser serves 
the user, not the author. That's why it's a "user agent".

When content is designed to a standard, the user agent is obligated to 
adhere to that standard when rendering it (and most if not all now do 
this). But poorly-designed content doesn't give you that kind of 
contract. A problem, once the content is published, would harm the 
user, and thus has to be handled by the user agent. The _fault_, 
however, belongs to the author and/or his or her authoring tool.

>   If so, any other parts we should have fun with ignoring whilst we're
>   at it ?

Ha ha.
No, the browsers have enough trouble trying to piece together mangled 
HTML without any more help. We have arrived at a point in time where 
the way to get things to show up the way you want is not to hack around 
the edges of each browsers, but to design valid code (thus staying in 
"standards mode" and out of "quirks mode," where most of the nastiest 
things designers complain about reside). Modern HTML books agree on 
this principle, such as Jeffrey Zeldman's "Designing with Web 
Standards". It is unacceptable and egregiously bad design practice (not 
to mention the cause of myriad accessibility problems) to depend on the 
browser to fix an author's broken content.

Received on Wednesday, 25 June 2003 17:54:23 UTC

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