Via Mike Gunderloy’s Daily Grind (Mike’s been back for a while, and it’s been nice to hear his “weblog voice” again…), we have Levels Of Abstraction, which asks:

So if we are moving up a level of abstraction, from HTML to XHTML, I expect to lose someting and subsequenly get something else in return. And there’s the rub. What do I get in return for moving from HTML to XHTML? I already know what I have to give up, I have to have well-formed documents. Thus, no leaving those br tags open, and make sure all your tags nest properly, etc. And that well-formedness constraint means tools. Sure you can enter valid XML by hand, but if you want to guarantee that the code is well-formed you will need to check it against a tool. Maybe pass the document through an XML processor, or a tool like Tidy, but either way you need a tool. And if you want to generate not just well-formed XHTML but valid XHTML then you will definitely need a tool like Tidy. So what do I get in return?

The author conclues the essay/rant (rassay? essant?) in a non-pull-quotable fashion, concluding that you get nothing for your troubles. This, of course, isn’t true: what you gain in making sure you have valid documents of the latest spec is the ability to blame any display issues on the client side of the equation. There is nothing more sweet than the phrase, “Well, my HTML is valid, so it must be your browser”.

In the obvious irony department, the page fails to display correctly for me, with the left-side body text running into the right-side menu stuff; it probably goes without saying that the page is invalid.

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