XHTML – Why? basically says the only reason is so that HTML becomes valid XML.
I understand, of course, that this is an old argument, but in the intervening years all I’ve seen is that people have realised they can now use XPath on their web pages. Well, that’s just great.
This is a big turnaround for me, I was convinced that XHTML was going to help us smooth the transition between making websites completely User-Agent and device agnostic, as well as opening up HTML to manipulation by all the existing XML tools, but you know what? There are already a plethora of existing (and good) HTML parsers out there, so the “well-formed XML” argument falls on my deaf ears, and apart from the comparatively esoteric usage of XPath, no-one’s yet found a good use for these XML tools in manipulating XHTML (not in the least because most XML tools will pretty-print by default, and break your page in IE).
And far from XHTML being the panacea of cross-device websites, developers have discovered that properly separated content and presentation will allow their plain old HTML sites to be rendered just fine on mobile devices (not that most PDA apps, like Plucker don’t just scrape the content into their own format anyway). So where are the XHTML torch-bearers? What do they have to offer me? Why is my HTML site no longer good enough? Where is the next generation of browsers that will be able to make use of all this X-technology? XHTML – Why?