Standards and the Real World

While attempting to get my site to pass the W3C validation for compliance with the XHTML 1.0 Strict Standard, I encountered a classic “Theory versus Practice” issue. The target attribute available in prevous versions of the standard is no longer valid. This is a well-known issue and Google will find many hits on the subject. Here’s one example that more or less explains the rationale for the target attribute’s demise.

So, what does one do in order to have this capability in XHTML Strict 1.0? One writes a JavaScript to perform the function. Fine, you say. But do a Google and you will find many different JavaScript’s with many different approaches to providing this capability. So much for a standard way of doing things.

In addition, what do the majority of the “experts” say about this? Mostly, they do a cope out and say if you really must have this capability and you do not want to use JavaScript, you can always revert to the XHTML 1.0 Transitional Standard, which still allows use of the target attribute.

In case you are wondering why I’m making such a big deal of this, I’ve been using the target attribute for years now to control whether a new page loads on top of the current page or the browser opens a new window to display the new page. I’ve used the convention for years now that if the new page is in my domain (i.e., part of my site), I load it on top of the current page and if the new page is from an external domain, I open it in a new window.

This is especially annoying to me now that browsers with page tabs are available (e.g., Firefox) that allow one to take maximum advantage of the now “banned” target attribute.

So what did I do to solve my problem? I downloaded a JavaScript from the Internet that uses the rel attribute to direct where a page loads (e.g., use rel and set it to rel=”external” instead of using target=”_blank”. Works fine but now I have to constantly do hacks to the code generated by the WordPress Editor as it uses the target attribute.

I guess the old phrase “Standards are written to be Broken” I first heard years ago is still valid!


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