Revenge of the self-closing tags!

April 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm in HTML5, video

Developers who’ve been working with XHTML for a long time tend to feel a little awkward when they first notice the lack of self-closing tags in HTML5 markup. But HTML5 isn’t derived from XML, so it’s not going to conform to the same rules that XHTML did. However, the sepcification says it’s fine to have self-closing tags in our HTML5 markup.

The problem with self-closing tags in documents served with the text/html mimetype is that browsers start stripping off those self-closing tags. After all, HTML documents never had self-closing tags, and XHTML documents are supposed to be served with a different MIME type which is unfortunately incompatible with IE 6,7, and 8.

But because of browser inconsistencies, we’re starting to see some self-closing tags make their way into valid HTML5 documents again. One placei n particular is the source element in HTML5 video.

 <source src="" 
               type='video/mp4; codecs="avc1.42E01E, mp4a.40.2"' />

It seems that due to some strange parsing bugs, the video element doesn’t load properly unless the source tag is self-closed.

It’s an unfortunate side-effect of ten years of exceptions upon hacks upon exceptions.

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