No more Transitional DOCTYPEs, please
For a long time now my answer to people who ask me if they should use HTML or XHTML has been that it doesn’t really matter as long as you use a Strict DOCTYPE and not a Transitional one. If you’re not sure why, my article Transitional vs. Strict Markup for last year’s 24 ways is a good start.
It’s good to see that I am not the only one who thinks that the phasing out of Transitional DOCTYPEs is long overdue (they are called Transitional for a reason, you know). Jack Pickard talks about this in his Accessites.org article It’s Time To Kill Off Transitional DOCTYPES (you can post comments on Jack’s personal website in the identically named It’s time to kill off Transitional DOCTYPEs).
In the article Jack mentions the comment at the top of the HTML 4.01 Transitional Document Type Definition that basically tells you not to use it:
This is the HTML 4.01 Transitional DTD, which includes presentation attributes and elements that W3C expects to phase out as support for style sheets matures. Authors should use the Strict DTD when possible, but may use the Transitional DTD when support for presentation attribute and elements is required.
Well, browser support for style sheets is definitely mature enough that we do not need to use presentational attributes and elements. So unless you have lots of legacy content that contains presentaional markup and cannot easily be converted or cleaned up, go Strict next time you redesign. If you’re building a site from scratch, I can only think of two reasons for choosing a Transitional DOCTYPE. One is if you’re using a lousy CMS that cannot be adjusted to produce Strict markup, the other is if you’re forced to use iframes for incorporating external content.
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