Burningbird Specs

IE8, XHTML, and what am I going to do with my site?

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I thought it interesting and even odd how few people have remarked on the fact that Ray Ozzie began the opening keynote of a conference focused specifically at developers by talking about ads.

My source for things geek, Planet Intertwingly, has had very few entries devoted to IE8. I imagine people either don’t care or are trying things out. Or perhaps they’re at ETech or on their way to SxSW. What a way to filter your audience: schedule the conferences at the same time. What sad irony that Ozzie next spoke of the Yahoo deal, as Yahoo itself was launching its latest, greatest tech initiative, which was then overshadowed by Microsoft’s rolling out of the IE8 public beta.

Not to be outdone, Apple has something today probably about its SDK. All we’re missing is something from Adobe, but it preferred to dance alone.

To return to IE8. One doesn’t have to tax one’s imagination to read the purpose behind the ‘advances’ in IE8. All of the new functionality is focused on Microsoft’s new “cloud” agenda, including client data storage support for offline working, and back button navigation. According to the “readiness” document I linked yesterday:

Internet Explorer 8 provides a simplified yet powerful programming model for AJAX development that spans browser, webpage, and server interaction. As a result, it is easier for you to build webpages that have much better end-user experiences, are more functional, and have better performance. APIs are based on the W3C HTML 5.0 or Web Applications Working Group standards. Enhancements or novel intellectual property for AJAX will be made available for standardization before the Internet Explorer 8 release.

The thing is, HTML5 is most definitely a work in progress. What Microsoft has done is cherry picked what it wanted, implemented it, threw in its own stuff and then glossed it over by either attaching it’s own bizarre “open source” license, or tossed the non-critical bits into the public domain.

The proprietary bits aside, it is typical for vendors to start implementing standards before they’re finalized, as a test and a validation. Just as typically, though, the other members of the standards group are usually aware of such plans. I am curious to hear what other members of the HTML5 working group think of IE8 and the HTML5 bits.

As for me, not hard to see that I’m unhappy. I have a choice now: do I continue to serve this site using the XHTML MIME type, in which case it will never be accessible by IE (because I now believe Microsoft will never support the XHTML MIME type); or do I “break” my site by adding back content negotiation?

I wrote previously that I had a plan I was going to implement if Microsoft didn’t support XHTML with IE8. In the back of my mind, I really thought the company would. Not to do so is the company saying that, for all its talk about standards and openness, it will implement only those standards that support its own agenda, and no others. While I expected this attitude, I didn’t expect Microsoft to be so obvious about it.

I really didn’t expect Microsoft to blow off XHTML, and now that it has, I have some work to do on my sites to follow through on my fallback plan. I’m not doing anything earth shattering, or probably all that interesting to most folks (since, seemingly, standards take a back seat to ads for today’s new web developer). I’m just dealing with the situation.

I’m also investigating Drupal, as a content tool–either alone or perhaps with WordPress. I’ve been interested in Drupal since I started looking through the site and the code base. I became more interested when Maki mentioned the SVG Toolkit for Drupal, and Elaine talked about how improved it is. Then Ian Davis at Nodalities mentioned Drupal’s RDF and semantic web commitment yesterday, and that’s all she wrote for me.

The Drupal folks seem more committed to supporting standards, all standards, than the WordPress folk. And when I read something about Drupal, I read about the technology; I don’t read about ads or mergers. This focus on technology appeals to me right now.

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