Okay, I’ll admit it. In the past I’ve been ignorant and lazy about using the XHTML Strict DOCTYPE. But no more. I’ve always known that Strict was "better", but only recently have I seen the light and reason to abandon my old ways and make the switch. This is why.
Using a Transitional DOCTYPE is not bad. It just doesn’t accomplish what Strict does in terms of cleaner markup and moving web standards forward. If you don’t know the specific differences between DOCTYPE’s refer to the additional resources that I added at the end of this article.
Using Transitional is like smoking crack
The Transitional DTD is definitely easier to work with. It lets you off easy and allows for an occasional tag or attribute for style purposes. Need to quickly center or strike out text and don’t want to create a class? No problem! Just use the
strike tags. Transitional will still smile upon you and validate. I guess you could say it just "feels good".
So, what’s the problem with that? One of your responsibilities as a XHTML/CSS master should be the separation of presentation from structure. Transitional’s allowance of inline style attributes can cause laziness and bad habits by allowing you to quickly throw in a center or underline tag here and there. Such things can be a hard habit to break.
Using a Strict DTD is a good way to keep yourself in check with good standards. If all developers did that, the world wide web would be a much better place.
Are you a control freak?
I’ve always agreed and supported the idea of the separation of style from structure thing. Yet, I’ve still been using Transitional. Why? Because I have felt the need to empower myself with the ability to control how a link is opened. Whether it be in the same window or in a new tab was my decision to make on behalf of those clicking on the link. The root of this power? The
target attribute for anchor tags. This attribute does not validate using Strict.
This mentality changed recently when I started putting myself on the other side of the issue. I found myself getting pissed off and swearing at websites that would open in a new window when I didn’t expect them to or vice versa.
Unrelated to the
Power to the people!
Because of the annoyance of websites that manipulate my browser, I began to think twice about using the target attribute. All modern browsers allow you to Ctrl/Cmd-Click on a link to open it in a new tab. You can also change browser settings and/or right click links to change how they are opened. I say Power to the People! Let them decide how to browse the internet for themselves.
If you agree with this perspective, there really isn’t a reason to use the
target attribute. I now have no excuse to use Transitional. It will be Strict for me from here on out.