HTML and CSS Reference
16.5. Should You Use XHTML?
For a document author used to HTML, XHTML is clearly a more painful
and certainly a less forgiving document markup language. Whereas at
one time we prided ourselves on being able to crank out HTML with pen-
cil and paper, it's much more tedious to write XHTML without special
document-preparation applications. Why should any author want to take
on that extra baggage?
16.5.1. The Dusty Deck Problem
Over just a few years, authors have generated billions upon billions of
web pages. It is a safe bet that the majority of these pages are not com-
pliant with any defined version of HTML. It is an even safer bet that the
vast majority of these pages are not XHTML compliant.
The harsh reality is that these billions of pages will never be converted
to XHTML. Who has the time to go back, root out these old pages, and
tweak them to make them XHTML compliantespecially when the end res-
ult, as perceived by the user, will not change? Like the dusty decks of
COBOL programs that lay unchanged for decades before Y2K forced pro-
grammers to bring them up to snuff, these dusty decks of web pages will
also lie untouched until a similarly dramatic event forces us to update
However, the dusty-deck problem is no excuse for not writing compliant
documents going forward. Leave those old documents alone, but don't
create a new conversion problem every time you create a new document.
A little effort now will help your documents work across a wider range of
browsers in the future.
16.5.2. Automatic Conversion
If your sense of responsibility leads you to undertake the conversion of
your existing HTML documents into XHTML, you'll find a utility named
Tidy to be exceptionally useful. Written by Dave Raggett, one of the