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In the world of web developing there are many uncertain elements, but one thing you can always count on is the different rendering of HTML and CSS in the various browsers. A serious web craftsman tests for inconsistencies in Firefox, IE, Safari and Opera and makes the appropriate adjustments. That’s just something you have to do, even if your mark-up is W3C standards compliant.

Today, I came across an article describing the Gecko’s “Almost Standards” mode, which in essence says that the Gecko engine (the rendering engine used in Firefox, Mozilla and Netscape) has a mode somewhere between the Quirks and Standards mode. This “Almost standards” mode is triggered when the DOCTYPE isn’t strict. That means it is triggered by the default DOCTYPE in ASP.NET 2.0 which is XHTML transitional.

I had to try it out to believe it, and sure enough, there is a difference. This newfound knowledge will make it a little easier to make a website look good in all major browsers when the DOCTYPE is strict, because the rendering will be in Standards mode in all the browsers. It doesn’t matter if you do HTML or XHTML as long as the DOCTYPE is strict.

Here are the HTML and XHTML strict DOCTYPE definitions.

HTML 4.01
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC
"-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">

XHTML 1.0
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC
"-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Strict //EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">


Update April 20th:Opara 8.5 has something similar to "Almost Standards" mode. I haven't been able to find any documentation, but I did some tests.