The past few weeks I’ve been working on a project that has made me question the wisdom of writing something that’s xhtml 1.1 compliant.

I’m all for web standards. If browsers supported them as universally as they’re supposed to, the world would be a happier place.

xhtml essentially is reformatted html served up as xml. One direct benefit of this is that compliant documents must adhere to a strict set of formatting rules. You’ve got to go all lowercase, you’ve got to close all your paragraph tags, and you’ve got to do a whole bunch of other stuff to pass validation tests.

Anyway, the real problem is that you can’t rely on being standards compliant to ensure a consistent display of whatever you’re working on, wherever it’s viewed. What you can do is design/write sites that are compliant, put a badge on your site that proudly proclaims your nerdish mastery of xhtml 1.1, and then promptly blame any display problems on noncompliant web browsers, washing your hands of the situation entirely. Then you’d go back to lurking Slashdot threads, energy drink in hand, and call it a day.

It’s a little sad that 15 years after html hit the scene the most effective way to build web sites is not to design to standards, but to test a standards-compliant site in a handful of the most popular browsers. In the end it’s more work, but someday in the far future when we’re viewing the web on something other than web browsers (!) it’s supposed to make our lives easier. Just wait and see!

Leave a Reply