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Which DTD Should I Use?

 
 
Gene Wirchenko
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      12-20-2011
Dear HTMLers:

I have been ignoring the issue of DTDs and just using the default
that Dreamweaver 8 offers. This is XHTML 1.0 Transitional. This has
worked fine.

It does not work with <style>-defined CSS. (I use IE9 under
Windows 7.) I changed to HTML 4.01 Strict, and then the CSS worked.

In case it matters, my pages will have JavaScript in them.

Which DTD should I be using? And why? Good-quality links are
very welcome.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko
 
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Adrienne Boswell
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      12-20-2011
Gene Wirchenko <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote

> Dear HTMLers:
>
> I have been ignoring the issue of DTDs and just using the default
> that Dreamweaver 8 offers. This is XHTML 1.0 Transitional. This has
> worked fine.


Not really, it's all tag soup.

To be valid XHTML, all elements must be closed, including those that self
close, such as IMG, so it becomes <img />. To be valid HTML, those self
closing elements MUST NOT be closed, it MUST be <img> to be valid.

If you don't serve XHTML the way it should be served as
application/xhtml+xml, then you are serving it as text/html. IE cannot
render XHTML - it has to be served HTML. So when it gets <img /> served
as text/html, it's really just getting invalid markup that it's
correcting. But, since it is receiving tag soup, there is no guarantee
that it will be rendered the way it should be.



>
> It does not work with <style>-defined CSS. (I use IE9 under
> Windows 7.) I changed to HTML 4.01 Strict, and then the CSS worked.


See above.

>
> In case it matters, my pages will have JavaScript in them.


You should not have any problems if you are using HTML, with XHTML,
script and CSS must use CDATA, or use an external script (recommended).
>
> Which DTD should I be using? And why?


Your best bet is to use HTML 4.01 Strict, an external stylesheet, and
external JavaScript. Don't use XHTML unless you have a VERY good reason
to.

The strict doctype should be used for new documents. The transitional is
for documents that are in, well, transition. Transitional allows elements
and attributes that have been deprecated in favor of CSS. Why? Because
it's a lot easier to change one file that says "body {background-color:
#fff; color:#000;}" than it is to go into all the files and change <body
bgcolor="#FFFFFF" color="#000000"> if you want to go from a white
background to a pale yellow background.


> Good-quality links are very welcome.


Google is your friend.


--
Adrienne Boswell
Arbpen Web Site Design Services - http://www.cavalcade-of-coding.info/
The Good Plate - Fresh Gourmet Recipes - http://the-good-plate.com/
Please respond to the group so others can share
 
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Gene Wirchenko
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      12-20-2011
On Tue, 20 Dec 2011 21:43:29 +0000 (UTC), Adrienne Boswell
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>Gene Wirchenko <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote


[snip]

>> Which DTD should I be using? And why?

>
>Your best bet is to use HTML 4.01 Strict, an external stylesheet, and
>external JavaScript. Don't use XHTML unless you have a VERY good reason
>to.


Got it.

[snip]

>> Good-quality links are very welcome.

>
>Google is your friend.


Not always. When I do not know enough to evaluate the results,
the results are not too useful. A bit of orientation helps. Thank
you for the orientation that you provided.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko
 
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dorayme
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      12-20-2011
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
Gene Wirchenko <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>
> Which DTD should I be using? And why? Good-quality links are
> very welcome.


In your case and for many others and for now:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN"
"http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">

One reason is that it is well established, validators know about
it and if you want to play safe with browsers you can do worse.
Using the modern but still raw <!DOCTYPE html> may be for some
but if your software is not the very latest and your grasp of the
complexities is not firm, stick with the above for the moment.

--
dorayme
 
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Denis McMahon
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Posts: n/a
 
      12-21-2011
On Tue, 20 Dec 2011 12:25:42 -0800, Gene Wirchenko wrote:

> Dear HTMLers:
>
> I have been ignoring the issue of DTDs and just using the default
> that Dreamweaver 8 offers. This is XHTML 1.0 Transitional. This has
> worked fine.
>
> It does not work with <style>-defined CSS. (I use IE9 under
> Windows 7.) I changed to HTML 4.01 Strict, and then the CSS worked.
>
> In case it matters, my pages will have JavaScript in them.
>
> Which DTD should I be using? And why? Good-quality links are
> very welcome.


This is my perspective, and should be read as "as I understand it" and
"in my opinion". Other people might well disagree with parts or the whole.

Historically, html was based on sgml. Html 4 was pretty much defined by
the turn of the century. Xml was see as "the next great thing" and there
was a movement to remake html in the form of xml.

(depending who you ask, xml was or was not a development of html in the
first place)

XHTML 1.0 was basically a re-write of html 4.01 to match the rules of xml.
It didn't add anything new to html 4.01, other than making it legal xml.

The theory was that by making a few minimal changes, existing html 4.01
could be ported to the new shiny xml based xhtml.

Of course, that never happened, there was too much html 4.01 (and older
markup) in existence, and no-one was going to rework all their existing
markup when the browsers still supported the old style (sound familiar?).

xhtml 1.1 was a "ground up" rewrite of html as xml. It suffered some
pretty fundamental problems, not least of which was that different
browsers (msie was generally the odd-one-out) needed it served as
different mime types to understand it properly.

Eventually, xhtml suffered stagnation and became a dead end. At the same
time, html 5 was becoming the next thing.

The current situation is:

html 4.01 - mature, well documented, predictable behaviour across all
browsers as long as markup is compliant

xhtml 1.0 - stepping stone intended for rewriting html 4.01 to comply
with xml document structures, not intended for writing new pages in, but
also mature, well documented, with fairly predictable behaviour[1] across
all browsers as long as markup is compliant.

xhtml 1.1 - xml based document markup, seems to be an evolutionary dead
end in the development of www markup languages, but also mature, well
documented, with fairly predictable behaviour[1] across all browsers as
long as markup is compliant.

html 5 - a working draft, subject to change,

I still prefer to work in html 4.01, basically because compliant 4.01
markup still has the best chance of appearing as intended across the
widest selection of browsers currently in use.

Rgds

Denis McMahon

[1] possibly including in some cases "doesn't render at all because the
served mime type wasn't recognised"
 
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Jukka K. Korpela
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      12-21-2011
2011-12-21 19:59, Denis McMahon wrote:

> On Tue, 20 Dec 2011 12:25:42 -0800, Gene Wirchenko wrote:
>
>> Dear HTMLers:
>>
>> I have been ignoring the issue of DTDs and just using the default
>> that Dreamweaver 8 offers. This is XHTML 1.0 Transitional. This has
>> worked fine.
>>
>> It does not work with <style>-defined CSS. (I use IE9 under
>> Windows 7.) I changed to HTML 4.01 Strict, and then the CSS worked.
>>
>> In case it matters, my pages will have JavaScript in them.
>>
>> Which DTD should I be using? And why? Good-quality links are
>> very welcome.

>
> This is my perspective, and should be read as "as I understand it" and
> "in my opinion". Other people might well disagree with parts or the whole.


Undoubtedly, like anything posted to Usenet. I have refrained from
answering the question, as I don't know the specifics of Dreamweaver,
and I don't know whether the OP is developing brand new pages or
maintaining/developing old pages. It makes the huge difference.

In any case, the question "which DTD should I be using?" is as such
rather vague. The doctype declaration has two functions: browser mode
selection, and validation. If you don't validate your pages, then the
short answer is: don't use any doctype declaration, if you want "quirks
mode"; and use <!doctype html>, if you want "standards mode". And if you
use validation, you should understand the doctype issue on your own;
otherwise the validator reports will just confuse you.

The question "which version of HTML should I be using" is something
completely different. But it is important to realize that browser don't
care about HTML versions. Well, they might care about HTML vs. XHTML
_if_ you serve XHTML as genuine XHTML in the HTTP headers, but nobody
should do that without understanding the consequences, and few people do
it anyway.

It really doesn't matter much which "version of HTML" you use. What
matters is what tags and attributes you use, and how. This is tagsoup
world. Even if your doctype declares your document as HTML 2.0, browsers
will happily implement your use of tags introduced in HTML5 drafts if
they support them at all. And even if you declare HTML5, which declares
many old tags as obsolete, cursed, anathema, and criminal (pardon my
slight exaggeration), browsers will still obey your pre- HTML 2.0 markup
as usual, to the extent that they know about it at all.

> Historically, html was based on sgml.


No, it was just nominally retrofitted to SGML.

> Html 4 was pretty much defined by
> the turn of the century.


In 1997; later slightly edited in 1998 and 1999.

> (depending who you ask, xml was or was not a development of html in the
> first place)


XML is a simplification of SGML; seeing it as a development of HTML is a
gross category error.

> XHTML 1.0 was basically a re-write of html 4.01 to match the rules of xml.


Yes.

> It didn't add anything new to html 4.01, other than making it legal xml.


It did. The differences were never properly documented. Nobody was
interested enough.

> The theory was that by making a few minimal changes, existing html 4.01
> could be ported to the new shiny xml based xhtml.


Hardly. The idea of XHTML is that XHTML documents can be processed by
generic XML tools and combined with other XML documents. Using XHTML
just as a publishing format for web pages is absurd: it gains nothing.

> xhtml 1.1


is best mercifully forgotten.

> Eventually, xhtml suffered stagnation and became a dead end. At the same
> time, html 5 was becoming the next thing.


HTML5 has HTML serialization and XHTML serialization. So instead of
killing XHTML, it makes it an option.

> html 4.01 - mature, well documented, predictable behaviour across all
> browsers as long as markup is compliant


Well, nothing like that, except as compared with the alternatives.

> I still prefer to work in html 4.01, basically because compliant 4.01
> markup still has the best chance of appearing as intended across the
> widest selection of browsers currently in use.


There's no magic in sticking to HTML 4.01. Most constructs there are
widely supported, though often with considerable rendering and
functional differences. But just being part of HTML 4.01 guarantees
nothing; browser developers have no interest in HTML 4.01 any more. And
some HTML5 features work fine in browsers, because they are not really
new, just standardization of common practice.

--
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
 
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Gene Wirchenko
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      12-21-2011
On Tue, 20 Dec 2011 12:25:42 -0800, Gene Wirchenko <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>Dear HTMLers:
>
> I have been ignoring the issue of DTDs and just using the default
>that Dreamweaver 8 offers. This is XHTML 1.0 Transitional. This has
>worked fine.
>
> It does not work with <style>-defined CSS. (I use IE9 under
>Windows 7.) I changed to HTML 4.01 Strict, and then the CSS worked.
>
> In case it matters, my pages will have JavaScript in them.
>
> Which DTD should I be using? And why? Good-quality links are
>very welcome.


Thank you very much for your answers. This is the sort of thing
that is difficult to find on the Web. (Well, I suppose I could find
it, in amongst all of the junk.)

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko
 
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cwdjrxyz
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Posts: n/a
 
      12-23-2011
On Dec 21, 1:27*pm, Gene Wirchenko <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On Tue, 20 Dec 2011 12:25:42 -0800, Gene Wirchenko <(E-Mail Removed)>
> wrote:
>
> >Dear HTMLers:

>
> > * * I have been ignoring the issue of DTDs and just using the default
> >that Dreamweaver 8 offers. *This is XHTML 1.0 Transitional. *This has
> >worked fine.

>
> > * * It does not work with <style>-defined CSS. *(I use IE9 under
> >Windows 7.) *I changed to HTML 4.01 Strict, and then the CSS worked.

>
> > * * In case it matters, my pages will have JavaScript in them.

>
> > * * Which DTD should I be using? *And why? *Good-quality links are
> >very welcome.


First, unless you serve even a perfect xhtml of any type as
something.html, on most servers your xhtml page is served only as
ordinary html. To properly serve xhtml, something such as .xhtml can
be used and the mime type proper for .xhtml must be set on the server.
Or you can do something a bit more complicated using header exchange.
Most of my pages are written and served as xhtml 1.1 which is really
little more difficult than using html 4.01 strict after you learn to
do it. Mis-serving a xhtml page as html usually works unless the page
has some xml content. Thus I would not change all of my older pages
that work.

If you use Javascript, you can throw many validation errors, on a
xhtml page unless you are very careful. The reason is that Javascript
includes many things that are not legal in xml and a xhtml page is
parsed as xml when properly served. If the xhtml page contains no xml
and is mis-served as html, this may not matter. However sometimes you
can get so many validation errors that sorting through all of them can
be quite a chore. There are open and close xml constructs that you can
put around the JavaScript that instruct not to parse the Javascript as
xhtml, which it is not. Often using an external script will solve the
problem. Also using document.write is not allowed. Again this may not
matter if your xhtml page uses no xml and is mis-served as html. The
way I usually get around this is to use server side php rather than
client side JavaScript. You likely could use Microsoft server side
snake script (ASP) if it suits you better than php. The rules for
writing a xhtml page have to be a bit more complicated than those for
a html page, because the page must work if it contains only html, only
xml, or a mixture of both. Xml is much more strict than html, and an
error such as not closing something may cause the page not to view at
all on some or all browsers.

I think html5, for the most part, is a step backward. However it can
be served as xhtml5, which is what I do on a few experimental xhtml5
pages. Also you can write your main page in some version of html or
xhtml that meets most of your needs. You can then embed another page
or pages in it of any Doctype using the proper objects. This has not
been done much because IE browsers do not understand these objects.
However there are ActiveX objects that IE does understand. You have to
then use Microsoft conditional comments to route to the ActiveX object
and route to ordinary objects for other browsers. Thus you can have a
xhtml 1.1 page that embeds an html 4.01 transitional page, that
perhaps contains a Java applet. Of course the embedded pages need to
validate in their declared Doctype which may be just about any legal
one that works for the embedded page. You can even embed another page
in an embedded page.


 
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