One bit of news that I've found agreeable in the recent IE8 rendering switch debacle, is that IE8 will support the HTML 5 DOCTYPE without requiring the tag switch. Finally, some sanity.
What about XML and XHTML MIME types? Will those trigger standards mode as well?
There still remains the issue that Microsoft facilitates laziness with this switch. I would personally accept the compromise of strict DOCTYPEs continuing to trigger standards mode, and this frozen in time compatibility mode be relegated to all other DOCTYPEs. If you put in the strict DOCTYPE and your site breaks because of standards improvements, then tough cookies. What do you think the word "strict" means? Golly gosh, we really mean it this time, this is the strictest of the strict standards compliance mode!
Will the world ever be perfect? No. Some people just don't care, and won't ever care about the issue of standards. My gut feeling still says a clean break with the past is needed, and should be the route going forward. But I also feel that Microsoft is in a tough position. One set of customers is demanding backward compatibility, another set of customers is demanding standards compliance. And make no mistake about it, web developers and designers are every bit Microsoft's customers, as it's various so-called corporate partners. We facilitate the code that works with its products. We influence the opinions of those around us that are less competent technically.
Of course, I don't want to give the impression that I advocate blindly bashing Microsoft. While I am quite bitter about their track record of neglect of the web development community, I can see that the people on the IE team are truly trying to serve two masters. I merely see it as a futile undertaking with no good outcome for Microsoft in the current form. As I am against their proposed solution, if I and those other people opposed to this solution get what we want, uptake of IE8 will be painfully slow. It will take quite literally years to overcome IE6, and IE7 in the corporate intranet space. Those people simply will refuse to upgrade since the upgrade would break their poorly written intranet applications.
On the other hand, if Microsoft goes through with their proposal, we continue to deal with the kludge and laziness that is the broken IE rendering engine of today.
Which is why I propose a compromise... Microsoft's solution is too drastic. It does not do enough to push people towards writing standards-compliant web applications. The solution... make strict DOCTYPEs continue to trigger standards mode. Make XML and XHTML MIME types trigger standards mode. Make the HTML 5 DOCTYPE trigger standards mode. Make all other DOCTYPEs trigger the two quirks compatibility modes (call one, ahem, "Almost Standards" mode), and provide the ability to force the rendering mode of your choice with the element. Then you are promoting standards by default, compromising with the web development community, and providing an out for people who may have a strict DOCTYPE but content designed based on bugs.
Name calling won't fix the past, but surely we can find a way forward with a compromise that better meets the needs of all involved.
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