June 15, 2004

I feel like debunking two myths that roam around the two IRC channels I hang around in (#html on irc.homelien.no and #web on irc.freenode.net), namely...

  1. ...that <table> was never meant endorsed by a spec to lay out web pages, and...
  2. ...that XHTML MUST NOT be sent as text/html.

A lot of people will scream these things at you, but apparently they haven't read the relevant specs thoroughly enough. I quote the HTML 3.2 table section:

"HTML 3.2 includes a widely deployed subset of the specification given in RFC 1942 and can be used to markup tabular material or for layout purposes. Note that the latter role typically causes problems when rend[er]ing to speech or to text only user agents."

Source: www.w3.org/TR/REC-html32#table

Now, of course you shouldn't misuse <table> for layout purposes, but claiming that they were never intended to do layout is a lie.

And then we have the people who claim that XHTML MUST NOT be sent as text/html. Debunking that myth is also just a matter of referring to the relevant spec. The summary clearly states that XHTML SHOULD NOT be sent as text/html, and SHOULD NOT is clearly defined in RFC2119 (there's probably an RFC on how to properly sort your laundry) as:

"This phrase, or the phrase 'NOT RECOMMENDED' mean that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances when the particular behavior is acceptable or even useful, but the full implications should be understood and the case carefully weighed before implementing any behavior described with this label."

Source: www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2119.html

I'd say that Internet Explorer not being able to even display XHTML sent with the proper MIME type is a valid reason for implementing aforementioned behavior. At least, that's my reason.

Next time you want to complain about something, do your homework.

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