ARTLUNG: <Joe Crawford> <San Diego> <California> <USA> <FEBRUARY> <2003>

February 20th, 2003

<birthday number=”5years”>XML</birthday>; Thoughts on HTML’s Popularity

From XML at Five from xml.com:

Rick Jelliffe … criticized XHTML: “HTML thrived on being more forgiving of missing tags than even SGML allowed. Throwing that away makes HTML a lot less attractive. Which is true of markup in general, actually.”

With which I wholeheartedly agree. HTML is supposedly the most common electronic document type on the planet. Why? Because it was butt-simple to learn and use. XHTML is rigid. I think for the most part this rigidity doesn’t buy a whole lot. HTML 4.01 works great for most uses. Mind you, I like to play in xhtml, as in SDBloggers or my DHTML thing or several old splash pages. But I also think it should be painfully easy for people to build web pages.

Would the web be as popular now if Browsers were unforgiving of bad markup? If only rocket-scientists could author web pages? I say no. The explicit and rigid nature of XHTML would have scared people off. So as much as us old timer’s (mind you, I started in 1996, just as the waves were beginning, but not at the very beginning) object to the tag soup that developed over the years. There was a beautiful method to the madness. The WWW flourished because anyone with Notepad could build a website, whether you know the difference between semantic markup, schemas, document type definitions, or any of it.

De facto beats de jure every time.

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