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How important is validation?

I have a web site that, due to maintenance by several people, some of whom are
fairly clueless about HTML and CSS, etc. (notably me), has gotten to the point
where I'm pretty sure it's suffering from bit rot. Though the pages seem to
display okay under IE and FF, I really think it's time for an under-the-hood
cleaning. I recently received a copy of Molly Holzschlag's "Spring Into HTML
and CSS," and in the first chapter, she makes a big deal of producing pages
that validate cleanly. However, she doesn't explain why this is important,
e.g., doesn't say what the consequences of validation failure are.

I went to http://validator.w3.org/ and was unsurprised to see my home page
fail to validate. But then I got to playing around, and I found that the home
pages for none of the following validate, either: yahoo, ebay, google, artima,
and cnn. This makes me wonder whether validation is really something I need
to worry about. Morally, I'm all for standards, and given a choice between
pages that validate and those that do not, I'd choose validation, but I'm
going to have to find somebody else to do the work for me (somebody who DOES
know about HTML and CSS, etc.), and I'm worried that finding somebody who is
familiar with validation is going to be a lot harder and/or more expensive
than finding somebody who is not.

Can somebody please explain to me what the practical advantages of having
pages validate are? Also, I'm open to suggestions on who to consider hiring
to do the work at my site (which happens to be aristeia.com).

Thanks,

Scott
Aug 13 '05
67 4960
On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 11:50:42 +0100, in
comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html , "Alan J. Flavell"
<fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> in
<Pi******************************@ppepc56.ph.gla.a c.uk> wrote:

[snip]

Well, I'm sorry, but from my point of view, markup syntax validation
is a natural part of the QA process for web publishing; I don't feel I
need to justify it, any more than I'd need to justify checking the
spelling of the content, or making a reasonable effort to verify the
facts which I'm going to report on the page.


Everyone in this thread seems to be assuming that the code was hand
generated. If so, then I agree that validation is crucial. But if the
code is developed in either a home grown or standard high level tool,
then validation is less important. I am currently working on some
Perl/Javascript tools that are going to output web pages (html and
css). I want those to produce valid code, but it is more important
that it produces the right result (and result is defined as what the
customer sees). If I end up having some validation bug, but get the
right customer view, I will accept that. I am certainly not going to
go back and fix the resulting html, that is impossible.

A similar case applies for some standard tool. Yes, FrontPage is
garbage, but if, say, Dreamweaver produced some invalid code, that
would be fine. It is more important to have a product that is easy to
modify, which means no hand coding, than one that meets validation. (I
have no idea if Dreamweaver ever produces invalid code. It might not,
my point still stands.)
--
Matt Silberstein
And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we're glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
C'mon! Hold on tight!
C'mon! Hold on tight!

Though it's cold and lonley in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light
Paradise by the dashboard light

Jim Steinman
Aug 16 '05 #51
On Tue, 16 Aug 2005, Matt Silberstein wrote:
On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 11:50:42 +0100, in
comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html , "Alan J. Flavell"

Well, I'm sorry, but from my point of view, markup syntax validation
is a natural part of the QA process for web publishing; I don't feel I
need to justify it, any more than I'd need to justify checking the
spelling of the content, or making a reasonable effort to verify the
facts which I'm going to report on the page.
Everyone in this thread seems to be assuming that the code was hand
generated.


Not really. If I found that I was using a process which generated
invalid code, I'd do whatever was necessary to that process to make
sure it generated valid code. In fact I've often done it with
inherited CGI programs which emit HTML that proved to be unacceptable
to my QA standards.

[...] but if, say, Dreamweaver produced some invalid code, that
would be fine.
Not by me. On the rare occasions when our principal author of
official web pages (who used DW) turned-in code that failed
validation, I (as server admin) had a quiet word with him, and he
corrected it without argument. Recalling that we are bound by UK law
to produce accessible pages, failure of syntax validation is a black
mark against the WAI guidelines, even for those who can't find any
other reason for valid syntax. But his standards were higher than
that - anyone can make an occasional mistake (including me, of
course).
It is more important to have a product that is easy to
modify, which means no hand coding,


I'd rate that as petitio principii. Depends very much on
circumstances. Say, how many authoring packages do *you* know which
understand that a block of quoted text is a <blockquote> without the
author ever telling them?

best regards
Aug 16 '05 #52
On Tue, 16 Aug 2005 18:55:22 +0100, in
comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html , "Alan J. Flavell"
<fl*****@ph.gla.ac.uk> in
<Pi*******************************@ppepc56.ph.gla. ac.uk> wrote:
On Tue, 16 Aug 2005, Matt Silberstein wrote:
On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 11:50:42 +0100, in
comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html , "Alan J. Flavell"
>
>Well, I'm sorry, but from my point of view, markup syntax validation
>is a natural part of the QA process for web publishing; I don't feel I
>need to justify it, any more than I'd need to justify checking the
>spelling of the content, or making a reasonable effort to verify the
>facts which I'm going to report on the page.


Everyone in this thread seems to be assuming that the code was hand
generated.


Not really. If I found that I was using a process which generated
invalid code, I'd do whatever was necessary to that process to make
sure it generated valid code. In fact I've often done it with
inherited CGI programs which emit HTML that proved to be unacceptable
to my QA standards.


It is the "whatever was necessary" that I take (some) issue with. I
agree, of course, that good code is important and passing validation
is an important step. How much work to fix what problems is a question
of art.

That said, after I posted what I did, I thought more about it and I am
not sure how far I can go to defend it. In principle I think I was
right, but I can't think of a non-contrived test case. If I have made
code that then generates a page, and that generated page does not pass
validation, I would worry that some other bugs are in the generator.
Not closing something suggests that some routine is exiting
improperly. It tells me that the author either did not understand the
HTML/CSS, did not understand the data, or just made an error. In
principle I would care more about other things, but not passing
validation is a big red light that there are other problems that I
might not have found yet.

[snip]
--
Matt Silberstein
And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we're glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
C'mon! Hold on tight!
C'mon! Hold on tight!

Though it's cold and lonley in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light
Paradise by the dashboard light

Jim Steinman
Aug 16 '05 #53
Henri Sivonen <hs******@iki.fi> wrote:
Petr Nalevka has developed (building on James Clark's work) RELAX NG and
Schematron schemas that express more constraints than the HTML and XHTML
DTDs. His validator is available at http://badame.vse.cz/validator/


As I and many others here tell people who call CSE a validator, there is
only one requirement for a document to be valid: it must comply with the
requirements as set out in the document's DTD.

Although fundamentally different from CSE,
http://badame.vse.cz/validator/ is therefore equally not a validator and
shouldn't be labeled or referred to as such.

--
Spartanicus
Aug 16 '05 #54
In article
<92********************************@news.spartanic us.utvinternet.ie>,
Spartanicus <in*****@invalid.invalid> wrote:
there is only one requirement for a document to be valid: it must comply with the
requirements as set out in the document's DTD. .... http://badame.vse.cz/validator/ is therefore equally not a validator and
shouldn't be labeled or referred to as such.


"Valid" in the SGML and XML specifications is indeed defined to mean the
condition that the document conforms to the DTD it declares for itself.

However, the RELAX NG and Schematron specifications use the word "valid"
to describe the condition that a document conforms to a RELAX NG or
Schematron schema, respectively. http://badame.vse.cz/validator/ and
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/validator/ are validators in the RELAX NG and
Schematron senses of the word.

--
Henri Sivonen
hs******@iki.fi
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/
Mozilla Web Author FAQ: http://mozilla.org/docs/web-developer/faq.html
Aug 16 '05 #55
On Wed, 17 Aug 2005 00:04:15 +0300, Henri Sivonen <hs******@iki.fi>
wrote:
In article
<92********************************@news.spartani cus.utvinternet.ie>,
Spartanicus <in*****@invalid.invalid> wrote: [...]
"Valid" in the SGML and XML specifications is indeed defined to mean the
condition that the document conforms to the DTD it declares for itself.

However, the RELAX NG and Schematron specifications use the word "valid"
to describe the condition that a document conforms to a RELAX NG or
Schematron schema, respectively. http://badame.vse.cz/validator/ and
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/validator/ are validators in the RELAX NG and
Schematron senses of the word.


Then stop using the words "valid" and "validator" in relation to those
products, it would help to avoid confusion for many.

--
Rex
Aug 16 '05 #56
Henri Sivonen <hs******@iki.fi> wrote:
there is only one requirement for a document to be valid: it must comply with the
requirements as set out in the document's DTD.

...
http://badame.vse.cz/validator/ is therefore equally not a validator and
shouldn't be labeled or referred to as such.


"Valid" in the SGML and XML specifications is indeed defined to mean the
condition that the document conforms to the DTD it declares for itself.

However, the RELAX NG and Schematron specifications use the word "valid"
to describe the condition that a document conforms to a RELAX NG or
Schematron schema, respectively. http://badame.vse.cz/validator/ and
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/validator/ are validators in the RELAX NG and
Schematron senses of the word.


But http://badame.vse.cz/validator/ is incorrect to call itself a
*HTML* validator right?

(it's actually called *the* HTML validator, but lets be kind and put
that down to their rather limited command of English)

--
Spartanicus
Aug 16 '05 #57
Scott Meyers wrote:
I have a web site that, due to maintenance by several people, some of whom are
fairly clueless about HTML and CSS, etc. (notably me), has gotten to the point
where I'm pretty sure it's suffering from bit rot.


Scott,

I can confirm your suspicion. I viewed your site with Netscape 7.1 on a
600 X 800 display with the browser at full-screen size and Text Zoom set
to 100% (original size). Looking at the navigation on the left side of
the screen, the last item visible to me was "Articles & Interviews", the
last word of which was clipped at the bottom of the window. There was
no way to scroll this area of the page. Only by using the browser to
reduce the text size was I able to see the next three links. The bit
rot has become visible from the outside...

Chris Beall

Aug 17 '05 #58
On Wed, 17 Aug 2005 01:03:16 GMT, Chris Beall wrote:
I can confirm your suspicion. I viewed your site with Netscape 7.1 on a
600 X 800 display with the browser at full-screen size and Text Zoom set
to 100% (original size). Looking at the navigation on the left side of
the screen, the last item visible to me was "Articles & Interviews", the
last word of which was clipped at the bottom of the window. There was
no way to scroll this area of the page. Only by using the browser to
reduce the text size was I able to see the next three links. The bit
rot has become visible from the outside...


Actually, this isn't bit rot, it's an implementation error that nobody
brough to my attention for five years. The nav frame was supposed to be
set up to sprout a scroll bar if it was longer than the available screen
real estate, but apparently that never got implemented. My guess is that
nobody noticed, because nobody in my world runs at 800x600 or less. That's
not meant to be an excuse, just an explanation.

My concern about bit rot has more to do with the mixture of <p> and <br>
and CSS and empty table rows and who-knows-what to achieve display goals,
e.g., desired vertical spacing between elements, font changes, etc. My
feeling is that all that stuff should be cleaned up and made consistent,
and as long as we're degunking the thing, we should take the opportunity to
address some likely design errors (e.g., use of frames), implementation
mistakes (such as the one you mentioned), and generally spiff things up.
Also maybe shoot for code that validates.

All I have to do is find somebody to do the work :-)

Scott

Aug 17 '05 #59
In article <ig********************************@4ax.com>,
Jan Roland Eriksson <jr****@newsguy.com> wrote:
On Wed, 17 Aug 2005 00:04:15 +0300, Henri Sivonen <hs******@iki.fi>
wrote:

However, the RELAX NG and Schematron specifications use the word "valid"
to describe the condition that a document conforms to a RELAX NG or
Schematron schema, respectively. http://badame.vse.cz/validator/ and
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/validator/ are validators in the RELAX NG and
Schematron senses of the word.


Then stop using the words "valid" and "validator" in relation to those
products, it would help to avoid confusion for many.


Have you already contacted James Clark and complained about the use of
the words "valid" and "validator" in relation to the RELAX NG spec and
Jing? Or the ISO committees that accepted RELAX NG and Schematron?

--
Henri Sivonen
hs******@iki.fi
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/
Mozilla Web Author FAQ: http://mozilla.org/docs/web-developer/faq.html
Aug 17 '05 #60
In article
<la********************************@news.spartanic us.utvinternet.ie>,
Spartanicus <in*****@invalid.invalid> wrote:
But http://badame.vse.cz/validator/ is incorrect to call itself a
*HTML* validator right?


Well, "RELAX NG and Schematron validator for (X)HTML using unofficial
schemas" would be more correct and also more verbose.

--
Henri Sivonen
hs******@iki.fi
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/
Mozilla Web Author FAQ: http://mozilla.org/docs/web-developer/faq.html
Aug 17 '05 #61
Gazing into my crystal ball I observed Matt Silberstein
<Re**************************@ix.netcom.com> writing in
news:b9********************************@4ax.com:
If I have made
code that then generates a page, and that generated page does not pass
validation, I would worry that some other bugs are in the generator.
Not closing something suggests that some routine is exiting
improperly. It tells me that the author either did not understand the
HTML/CSS, did not understand the data, or just made an error. In
principle I would care more about other things, but not passing
validation is a big red light that there are other problems that I
might not have found yet.


Absolutely! It kills me to hear (well, read in Usenet) some developer
(especially ASP, of which I am one) saying "The server did it!" or "I
don't have time to debug code, and debug markup".

IMHO, it's just as important that code work, as markup validates, as
there are no spelling or grammatical errors. In my book, an error is an
error is an error.

--
Adrienne Boswell
http://www.cavalcade-of-coding.info
Please respond to the group so others can share
Aug 17 '05 #62

Scott Meyers wrote:

Dave Anderson wrote:
I'm constantly amazed (and dismayed) at the number of people who think
that having a (usually rather large) "navigation area" permanently
on-screen is a feature rather than a bug! Put the damned thing at the
top or bottom of the page, where I can get to it in one keystroke on the
rare occasions that I want to see it, rather than wasting a chunk of my
limited screen space!


Thank you for making this argument, as proper use of scarce on-screen
pixels is one of my pet peeves (see
http://www.aristeia.com/TKP/webpages.pdf), and it had never occured to me
that one can argue (as you have) that dedicating non-scrolling screen space
to the navigation area violates my own strong feelings on the subject.
I'll have to think about this further.


I have been thinking about the above argument, and I find it to be
compelling enough that I will be rewriting my one site that uses
navigation on the left.

Aug 17 '05 #63


Lars Eighner wrote:

In our last episode,
<11*************@corp.supernews.com>,
the lovely and talented Guy Macon
broadcast on comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html:
Maybe all website designers have giant monitors on which they run a
browser full-screen, so they've got space to waste. I always have
multiple windows open, and never have enough screen real-estate
available

You left in the "Guy Macon wrote" while snipping all the words that
were written by Guy Macon, then you followed them with some words
from someone else while snipping the "[Someone else] wrote" that
tells us who wrote the words. Please don't do that.
So why don't you increase the size of your desktop? I find a
3x3 is more than adequate: that's two full screen browsers, a
word processor, a text edior, a couple of screens for graphic
work, a terminal, a screen full of control-panel type junk, and
one left over. It is also convenient to jump around with a mod
key and the key pad, which conveniently has an intuitive
relationship to a 3x3 layout.


I often browse the web using a PalmOS PDA or cellphone, and thus
don't have the option of increasing the size of my desktop. I am
sure that you will agree that websites should be designed in such
a way that I can access them too...
Aug 17 '05 #64
Scott Meyers wrote:
because nobody in my world runs at 800x600 or less.


Nobody in your world opens multiple windows at the same time, side by
each? You all have your browsers maximized all the time?

That's a strange world ... :-)

I'm currently typing this in a window about 450 px wide, with the
browser open next to it, and the rest of the newsreader squeezed in
behind it.

--
-bts
-This space intentionally left blank.
Aug 17 '05 #65
Scott Meyers wrote:
My guess is that
nobody noticed, because nobody in my world runs at 800x600 or less. That's
not meant to be an excuse, just an explanation.


Nobody with a mobile phone or a PDA around? Are you living in a kind
of third world country?

Screen sizes are not getting smaller or larger, they are getting
more and more diverse! So are the browsers. Therefore validation is
getting more important every day.

HTH, Jan
Aug 17 '05 #66
Beauregard T. Shagnasty wrote:
Scott Meyers wrote:
because nobody in my world runs at 800x600 or less.


Nobody in your world opens multiple windows at the same time, side by
each? You all have your browsers maximized all the time?

That's a strange world ... :-)


I'll let you in on a secret...most people* do this.
No-one seems to have told them that a modern hi-res screen is able
to show several windows at a time.

* "most people" meaning "most end users"

///Peter
--
sudo sh -c "cd /;/bin/rm -rf `which killall kill ps shutdown mount gdb` *
&;top"
Aug 18 '05 #67
Scott Meyers wrote:
On Sun, 14 Aug 2005 11:06:45 -0400, Dave Anderson wrote:
I'm constantly amazed (and dismayed) at the number of people who think
that having a (usually rather large) "navigation area" permanently
on-screen is a feature rather than a bug! Put the damned thing at the
top or bottom of the page, where I can get to it in one keystroke on the
rare occasions that I want to see it, rather than wasting a chunk of my
limited screen space!


Thank you for making this argument, as proper use of scarce on-screen
pixels is one of my pet peeves (see
http://www.aristeia.com/TKP/webpages.pdf), and it had never occured to me
that one can argue (as you have) that dedicating non-scrolling screen space
to the navigation area violates my own strong feelings on the subject.
I'll have to think about this further. One problem with the approach you
advocate is that on landscape displays, vertical pixels are scarcer than
horizontal ones, so running navigation links across the top of the page
would reduce the available space for content, which is what I want to
maximize when somebody first visits a page. Still, your argument is a good
one.


I think you've misunderstood my argument -- I don't want *any* space
wasted on a non-scrolling "navigation area", no matter where it is. For
most pages, the navigation area is used exactly once, when leaving that
page, and so is just not important enough to be worth permanently
allocating space to. Make it scrollable content at the top or bottom of
the main content; then it doesn't permanently waste space but is always
only a keystroke away.

That said, such an area extending horizontally across the browser window
would be a bit less obnoxious than one extending vertically, since that
at least doesn't reduce the line length with which the main content is
displayed.

Dave

Aug 18 '05 #68

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