Pooja in Web Development

What is the reason browsers do not correctly recognize:

<script src="foobar.js" /> <!-- self-closing script element -->

Only this is recognized:

<script src="foobar.js"></script>

Does this break the concept of XHTML support?

2 Answers

0 votes
Nadira

To add to what Brad and squadette have said, the self-closing XML syntax <script /> actually is correct XML, but for it to work in practice, your web server also needs to send your documents as properly formed XML with an XML mimetype like application/xhtml+xml in the HTTP Content-Type header (and not as text/html).

However, sending an XML mimetype will cause your pages not to be parsed by IE7, which only likes text/html.

From w3:

In summary, 'application/xhtml+xml' SHOULD be used for XHTML Family documents, and the use of 'text/html' SHOULD be limited to HTML-compatible XHTML 1.0 documents. 'application/xml' and 'text/xml' MAY also be used, but whenever appropriate, 'application/xhtml+xml' SHOULD be used rather than those generic XML media types.

I puzzled over this a few months ago, and the only workable (compatible with FF3+ and IE7) solution was to use the old <script></script> syntax with text/html (HTML syntax + HTML mimetype).

If your server sends the text/html type in its HTTP headers, even with otherwise properly formed XHTML documents, FF3+ will use its HTML rendering mode which means that <script /> will not work (this is a change, Firefox was previously less strict).

This will happen regardless of any fiddling with http-equiv meta elements, the XML prolog or doctype inside your document -- Firefox branches once it gets the text/html header, that determines whether the HTML or XML parser looks inside the document, and the HTML parser does not understand <script />.

0 votes
Nadira

In case anyone's curious, the ultimate reason is that HTML was originally a dialect of SGML, which is XML's weird older brother. In SGML-land, elements can be specified in the DTD as either self-closing (e.g. BR, HR, INPUT), implicitly closeable (e.g. P, LI, TD), or explicitly closeable (e.g. TABLE, DIV, SCRIPT). XML, of course, has no concept of this.

The tag-soup parsers used by modern browsers evolved out of this legacy, although their parsing model isn't pure SGML anymore. And of course, your carefully-crafted XHTML is being treated as badly-written SGML-inspired tag-soup unless you send it with an XML mime type. This is also why...

<p><div>hello</div></p>

...gets interpreted by the browser as:

<p></p><div>hello</div><p></p>

...which is the recipe for a lovely obscure bug that can throw you into fits as you try to code against the DOM.

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