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RE: quality of authoring tools' output (was Versioning and html[5])

From: Sander Tekelenburg <st@isoc.nl>
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2007 00:29:26 +0200
Message-Id: <p0624061bc24c3769247b@[192.168.0.101]>
To: <public-html@w3.org>, <wri-talk@webrepair.org>

[Since authoring tools are probably considered somewhat OT here, I've
crossposted to The Web Repair Initiative's mailing list, where they're the
only topic ;) You can subscribe at
<https://lists.webrepair.org/mailman/listinfo/wri-talk>. I invite you and
everyone interested in improving authoring tools to subscribe.]

At 13:55 -0700 UTC, on 2007-04-17, Chris Wilson wrote:

> Sander Tekelenburg wrote:
>>But I love surprises! ;) If you can show me one Microsoft authoring tool that
>>generates accessible and interoperable web pages, I promise you I'll raise
>>the flag and have trumpets blowing at the WRI site :)
>
> Have you examined Expression Web Designer?

Not until now. I'll assume you're referring to
<http://www.microsoft.com/Expression/products/overview.aspx?key=web>, correct?

I can't do a thorough test as I don't have the resources right now (neither
time nor a Windows box). But I've taken a quick look at the output referenced
at
<http://www.microsoft.com/products/expression/en/expression-studio/customer-spotlight.mspx>,
namely <http://www.personifydesign.com/> and <http://www.thirteen23.com/>.

The output does seem quite a bit better than what I've seen from Front Page
(hardly an achievement ;) but still).

Some problems I see:

Both <http://www.personifydesign.com/> and <http://www.personifydesign.com/>
rely on the px unit where they shouldn't; they neglect to define foreground
colours where it backgrounds are defined and vice versa; they try to mess up
the user's default font-size for the main text. None of those help
accessibility or interoperability, quite the contrary. I find the px issue
particularly disturbing. If the user needs a font size of 18 or even just 16,
(depending on the font) the text at <http://www.personifydesign.com/>
overlaps itself. Quite inaccessible. Authoring tools must discourage authors
from publishing this way -- they must instead encourage 'liquid design'. So
Expression Web Designer seems to utterly fail to conform to
<http://webrepair.org/02strategy/02certification/01requirements.php#req18>.

The HTML of <http://www.personifydesign.com/> is just plain invalid:
"<strong>PRO Sports Club</a></STRONG>". That's unacceptable. No matter how
hard an author tries to get this wrong, the authoring tool must fix these
sort of mistakes for them.

It looks as if Expression Web Designer doesn't do its best to get the user to
provide appropriate ALT attrtibutes. I see almost none at
<http://www.personifydesign.com/>. I know you can't force authors to provide
good ALT content, but authoring tools must encourage authors to do so, and
when the author provides none, the authoring tool must at least generate
alt="".

Similarly, it doesn't appear to encourage semantic markup. Things like <p
class="boxhead1">News</p> at <http://www.personifydesign.com/> appear to be
intended to act as heading levels without being marked up as such.

Does Expression Web Designer discourage authors from using presentational
HTML? <http://www.personifydesign.com/> relies on table abuse and <center> :(

Does Expression Web Designer do anything at the server level? If so, it
generates broken Content-Type headers. (Missing charset attribute on
Content-Type header at <http://www.thirteen23.com/>.)

I haven't looked into where the CSS "filter" property came flying from
(certainly not from CSS 1 or 2) and whether it creates problems, but it does
look suspect.

There's also the issue of class names, which often don't conform to
<http://webrepair.org/02strategy/02certification/01requirements.php#req7>
(although I recognise that from a UI perspective this isn't easy to
implement).

No trumpets just yet ;)


[Disclaimer: it should be obvious, but still, this is by no means to be taken
as a thorough evaluation.]


-- 
Sander Tekelenburg
The Web Repair Initiative: <http://webrepair.org/>
Received on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 22:35:47 GMT

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