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I am trying to find some updated information about DOCTYPES. It seems everything I find is about 2-3 years old.
Do I really need to use a doctype? It seems people are pushing this so the websites can be validated, however I want to know if it is mandatory to have for today's Internet world or for the future?
The reason why I ask is because I have designed over 35 websites and all of them are live on the Internet with no doctypes, They seem to look great on all browsers, (IE, Netscape, Firefox, Mozilla) and I have never received a complaint about a site not working.
It seems that people are pushing doctypes because browsers are becoming stricter with the HTML language. My quess, because I cannot find any updated information on doctypes that this has already happened. And since my websites look good on all browsers, should I need to worry.
There are many versions and flavours of DTDs (DocTypes). Which one you use is a combination of personal preference and site requirements. But you definitely should use one: it is, at the least, professional best practice.
If you do not declare a specific DocType correctly a visitors browser must "guess" (usually by applying the loosest possible DocType or a "quirks" mode DocType of its own) resulting in slower rendering.
It can also result in display variation between browsers. That your sites all render "as designed" without a DocType indicates that the layouts are by <table> rather than by <div>. This is not "wrong" (it works after all) but it is a "hack" from years past when there was no other broadly supported layout mechanism.
Concerns about display rendering times, bandwidth consumption, regulated accessibility issues etc. as well as newer strict parsing variants (xHTML, XML, etc.) and increasing CSS support are changing web coding.
For as long as browsers incorporate "legacy" compatibility non-DocType sites will continue to look fine. However, if site design is your profession I recommend updating your skill set. The learning curve is steep but the benefits, in fluid flexible layout design, in rapid site maintenance, in site operation cost savings are tremendous.
...should I need to worry[?]
Otherwise, you are left with the kludge design principles that were used a decade ago.
If you need XML - then go for xthml. Otherwise, what's to be gained? But by learning strict mark-up in either case, you will gain knowledge that can improve your skills and your sites.
This is not necessarily a problem - and in many basic page layouts, I appreciate that standards vs. quirks mode issues can be a moot point. Just want to bring these issues to awareness for everyone reading along at home.
You tend to stumble over these things more as a page gets more complex, and also you test across different operating systems and browsers.
Just want to bring these issues to awareness for everyone reading along at home.
To add to this...
A lot of people seem to think that the only rendering difference when a doctype is applied is in which box model the browser uses. They conclude, then, that if their site uses tables for layout or otherwise avoids box model issues that there will be no difference in rendering. This is simply not true.
The doctype specifies LOTS of things, an important one being how box calculations are made, yes, but that's only one peice of the document. I have seen wild variations in the same page between browsers when no doctype is involved. Margins and padding are handled in seemingly random ways on some browsers without a doctype. Flagrant breaches of the W3 specs are rendered willy-nilly, making cross-browser uniformity a pipe-dream, and even worse, tricking coders into thinking that bad code isn't (and that bad browsers aren't). In just the past few days I've posted to three or four threads in the CSS forum where a lack of a doctype was causing the designer to get rendering problems.
If you think for a moment about what a doctype IS, it's easy to see the logic behind always using one. A doctype is a set of rules that tells your browser how to handle interactions between various peices of code. It just makes good sense to ensure that the rules you are designing according to are also the rules the browser will interpret according to.
You should always use a doctype declaration.
Website that pretty much just give information about the business, (Home page, about page, services, gallery etc.) I am not creating any kind of database driven websites, just basic informational websites.
I also found out the Front Page does not use doctypes because:. "As with most modern Web development tools, FrontPage may use design-time proprietary code and attributes for HTML tags that does not validate according to the standards of the W3C"
If this is the case, am I, OK with creating standard Table layout websites with no doctype.
Is this going to become a problem in the future, or as long as my websites are working correctly on all browsers today, I should not have a problem for the future.
Using a doctype doesn't mean that your mark-up must validate. As I see it, it is OK not to validate if you know why -- that is, you intentionally include a few proprietary tags for practical purposes, and they are the ONLY places your mark-up doesn't align with a doctype.
But not learning the ins and outs of how the standards work WILL hurt you eventually. And as others mention above, what you learn will bring you solid benefits over time.
tedster, could you elaborate on this a bit
Well, in the most general terms, transitional means moving away from something and towards something else. If you want to be ready for wherever this web thing is going in future years, it's good to along for this particular ride.
In the beginning of my involvement with the web I had no idea that SGML even existed, say nothing of the fact that HTML was one of her children. I was a marketer of 25 years and I just wanted to get on with the show in this new arena.
This was the mid 90's and Netscape was the really only happening game. The young upstart Internet Explorer came along in 1996, and those two browsers both began innovating like crazy. The W3C was, well, not able to keep pace with this innovation. By this time HTML3 was just sort of hacked together, and we had a nasty mish-mosh going on. But with CSS in the offing, poorly supported as it was, we also had the germ of sanity.
But now, the W3C had taken a very necessary position, and the name of the game is separating structural mark-up of the content from rendering instructions for the user agent. That's the difference between transitional (moving away from the previous confusion) and strict (the first solid move toward separating semantic mark-up from rendering instructions.)
By learning how to write strict mark-up, I found my appreciation growing for what HTML is and what it can be to be. I no longer thought about HTML as a way to layout a web page on screen, I now thought about it as a way to mark-up a document to clarify its structure.
And my pages became quite clear. I can usually read diectly from my source code with very little difficulty. And of course, these documents are more easily spidered and more easily maintained.
In the light of all this, you can see why I have little fondness for "transitional" xhtml. It's already got one foot in the grave before it starts, IMO. The big, important step is from transitional mark-up to strict mark-up, not from html to xhtml.
The pro of strict mark-up? You're now part of the solution.
The con of transitional mark-up? You're still part of the problem.
All kinds of user agents will be able to develop into true sophistication once this evolution has taken place. That will be over the next 5-10 years or so, not tomorrow, so you still have time.
I did what everyone said, and I added a Doctype to one of my pages to see what happens,
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN""http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">
However when I upload the new page and looked at it on different browsers, the layout was distorted, (Margins, table etc.)
What happened? If I use a doctype it messes up the websites, If I don't use a doctype it looks great on all browsers.
Also how do I know what doctype to use, I create websites in Front Page and it handles all of the HTML coding.
You say that your pages used to look good on all browsers - but I'd guess you didn't actually test on all browsers/all operating systems. That's a lot of testing! One good reason for understanding all this is to make your pages likely to display well, even on browsers you don't have and can't test on. Mac browsers like Safari, for example.
How do you know which doctype? The one you used is the best for this situation.
If you want to know how your coding falls short of standard you might want to run your site through this program.
It will tell you the coding that is wrong so you can look into finding the standard version of that coding you are using.
Although I don't like the way some of the standards are heading it is the easiest way to make sure your site looks the way you want it to in all modern browsers.