Well, the idea is that the client can ask for json, or xml or html, and your format block is listed in priority order. The first one that matches will be the one that is returned, and others will be short circuited. The simple if doesn't record the fact that, yes, we handle the html format.
Yes, you could do this with an `if/elsif/elsif/else` block. It would need to be:
# just render the view
That being said, I'm on your side. I've gone away from using the `respond_to` block. I'm not sure what Rails gives you is all that valuable in many cases, and certainly most people don't understand what's going on. Requests these days are pretty much one format.
I almost always use the if statement like you show, or if I only support one format, hard-code it. Otherwise you have extra code paths that aren't tested, and I get alerts in the middle of the night as someone is "hacking" the website with different mime types.