Sat, 23 Aug 2003

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embedded markup considered harmful

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In the tradition of the paper "Go To Statement Considered Harmful" by Edsger W Dijkstra (written back when BASIC was king, and you had to use line numbers), Norman Walsh declares that "Embedded Markup Considered Harmful."

While I am not completely up on all the W3C recommendations and the DOM and the RSS controversies, I do think that he has a point. Obviously, I haven't screwed around with XML enough to understand why you would want to break the spec and allow non-parseable fragments to float around. The only example given—that of preserving HTML 4 idiosyncrasies—may perhaps be a strawman. After all, no reasonable modern browser will choke on XHTML (just put a space after the element name and before the closing slash-angle, like so: <br /> instead of <br> and while it is a pain in the ass, you can easily use something like HTMLTidy to clean up your legacy cruft.

I mean, I suppose the difficulty comes in when people whose feeds you want to aggregate refuse to modernize. (But seriously, WTF? You have an RSS feed but you refuse to use XHTML?) I haven't played with RSS yet, so I suppose I really can't say anything, but still.

Why break the spec? (Why put random GOTOs in your BASIC program creating spaghettit code?) Someone give me a clue.

15:37:25 23 Aug 2003 > /computers/www > permalink > 0 comments

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