XHTML for teaching

Giganews Newsgroups
Subject: XHTML for teaching
Posted by:  Pierre Senellart (inval…@invalid.org)
Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2005

I am going to teach a basic Web design course (fundamentals of HTML/CSS,
plus some basic client-side (JavaScript) and server-side (PHP, perhaps
XSLT) scripting). Most of the students do not have any previous knowledge
of all of this.

I am strongly considering teaching XHTML 1.0 Strict instead of HTML 4.01
strict, for the following reasons:
- XML syntax is far more simple to teach than HTML/SGML, simply because
  there are not as many exceptions and subtleties.
- The stricter the language is, the stricter they are compelled to be
  when writing webpages.
- It will be easier to use XSLT if they only know about XML and if they
  remain the whole time in an XML world.
- They will have some other courses where XML is used, so that they
  should be in familiar territory.
- XML is the future (rather lame argument, I know, but one I believe in

They would be required to validate all their webpages, obviously, so that
it will not be tag soup. Webpages would be served as text/html for IE
support (or I might try to install some content negociation mechanism)
and I would talk about respecting Appendix C compatibility rules (by the
way, is there an on-line tool for checking conformity with these?).

One of the major drawback I see is the obligation to remove the XML
prolog, to be sure IE is in strict mode for CSS, and therefore to make
sure that all webpages are in UTF-8.

Does anybody see any other reason not to use XHTML in this very specific

Pierre Senellart