The Most Minimal Valid HTML Document

Published on October 2, 2023 (↻ October 12, 2023), filed under (RSS feed for all categories).

—is still this:

<!DOCTYPE html><title>␣</title>

(“␣” is a placeholder, as the title element can’t be empty. The code represents the valid/required-only HTML writing style, leaving out everything that can be left out.)

Why “still”?

Because we’ve covered this many years ago, in 2008 (2014 gist, 2020 pen), though back then it was more about demonstrating universality and maximum reusability (contrasting heavily with templates like HTML5 Boilerplate) than promoting conformant minimalism.

Why repeat “this”?

Because of ChatGPT, which can’t yet optimize HTML:

“The most minimal valid HTML document consists of just two required elements: ‘<!DOCTYPE html>’ and ‘<html></html>’.”

Figure: At least ChatGPT doesn’t say “tags.”

Anyone checking their HTML on conformance—validating—would find the problems with the ChatGPT output and be able to deduce this most minimal document. But commercially, unfortunately, the data says that modern web development teams don’t focus on conformance *.

That’s why “this” seems worth repeating even more.

* Should they? For professionals, I absolutely think so.

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens (long: Jens Oliver Meiert), and I’m a frontend engineering leader and tech author/publisher. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like Google and as an engineering manager for companies like Miro, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly and Frontend Dogma.

I love trying things, not only in web development (and engineering management), but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on I share some of my views and experiences.

If you want to do me a favor, interpret charitably (I speak three languages, and they can collide), yet be critical and give feedback for me to learn and improve. Thank you!