The issue with the split HTML/XHTML serialization

Not everybody knows that HTML 5 has been released in two flavours: HTML 5 proper, which uses the old serialization, similarly to HTML 4, and what is often incorrectly called XHTML 5 which uses XML serialization, like XHTML and XHTML 1.1 did. The two serializations have different grades of strictness, and the browsers deal witht hem that way.

It so happens that the default output on DocBook for XHTML 1 is compatible with the HTML serialization, which means that even if the files have a .html extension, locally, they will load correctly in Chrome, for instance. The same can’t be said to XHTML 1.1 or XHTML5 output; one particularly nasty problem is that the generated code will output XML-style tags such as <a id="foo" /> which throw off the browsers entirely, unless properly loaded as XHTML … and on the other hand, IE still has trouble when served properly-typed XHTML (i.e. you have to serve it as application/xml rather than application/xhtml+xml).

So I have two choices: redirect all the .html requests to .xhtml, make it use XHTML 5 and work around the IE8 (and earlier) limitations, or I can forget about XHTML 5 at all. This starts to get tricky! So for the moment I decided to not go with XHTML 5, and at the same time I’m going to keep building ePub 2 books, and publish them as they are, instead of using ePub 3 (even though, as I said, O’Reilly got it working for their workflow).

Unfortunately even if I went through that on the server side to fix it, that wouldn’t even be enough alone! I would have to also change the CSS, since many things that were always <div> before, are now using proper semantic types, including <section> (with the exception of the table of contents on the first landing page, obviously (damn). This actually makes it easier in one way as it lets me drop the stupid nth-child CSS3 trick I used to set the style of the main div, compared to the header and footer. Hopefully this should let me fix the nasty IE 3 style beveled border that Chrome put around the Flattr button when using XHTML 5.

In the mean time I have a few general fixes to the style, now I just need to wait for the cover image to come from my designer friend, and then I can update both the website and the eBook versions all around the stores.

To close the post.. David you deserve a public apology: while you were listed as <editor> on the DocBook sources before, and the XSL was supposed to emit it on the homepage, for whatever reason, it fails to. I’ve upgrade you to <author> until I can find why the XSL is misbehaving so I can fix it properly.

In the mean time, tomorrow I’ll write a few more words about automake and then

The xine website: intro

As it turns out, the usual xine website has gone offline since a few days ago. Since then, Darren set up a temporary page on servers, and I’ve changed the redirect of which is now sorta live with the same page that there was on, and the xine-ui skins ready to be downloaded.

Since this situation cannot be left to happen for a lot still, I’ve decided to take up the task to rebuild the site on the new domain I’ve acquired to run the Bugzilla installation. Unfortunately the original site (which is downloadable from the SourceForge repositories) is written in PHP, with use of MySQL for user-polling and news posting, and the whole thing looks like a contraption I don’t really want to run myself. In particular, the site itself is pretty static, the only real use of PHP on it is not having to write boilerplate HTML for each release, but rather write a file describing them, which is something that I’ve used to do myself for my site .

Since having a dynamic website for static content is far from my usual work practises, I’m going to do just what I did for my own website: rewrite it in XML and use XSLT to generate the static pages to be served by the webserver. This sounds complex but it really isn’t, once you know the basic XML and XSLT tricks, which I’ve learnt, unfortunately for me, with time. On an interesting note, when I’ve worked on my most complex PHP project, which was a custom CMS – when CMS weren’t this widespread! – for an Italian gaming website, now dead, I already looked into using XSLT for the themes, but at the time the support for it in PHP was almost never enabled.

I’m still working on it and I don’t count on being able to publish it this week, but hopefully once the site will be up again it’ll be entirely static content. And while I want to keep all the previously-available content, and keep the general design, I’m going to overhaul the markup. The old site is written mostly using tables, with very confused CSS and superfluous spacer elements. It’s not an easy task but I think it’s worth to do it especially since it should be much more usable for mobile users, of which I’m one from time to time.

If I find some interesting technicality while preparing the new website I’m going to write it here, so keep reading if you’re interested.