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Fw: Why Validate?

From: Sean B. Palmer <sean@mysterylights.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 23:57:28 +0100
Message-ID: <01f801c1454c$4fb86480$3c6c9eac@y0r1d9>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Cc: <nick@webthing.com>
This is a cool rant sent to www-validator, specifying why it is good to
validate markup. Perhaps GL can coordinate with the author and incorporate
some of the text into WCAG 2.0, or at least make sure that all of the
rationale and principles behind the article are expressed therein?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Nick Kew" <nick@webthing.com>
To: <www-validator@w3.org>
Sent: Monday, September 24, 2001 9:25 AM
Subject: Why Validate?

> I've just drafted an answer to this.  Review please.
> I'd be happy for this to become the basis for a "why validate" page
> at validator.w3.org.
> (Liam - please feel free to kick me if I don't get around to reviewing
> how this might fit with htmlhelp's existing "reasons to validate").
> *** Why Validate?
> Well, firstly there is the very practical issue that non-valid
> pages are (by definition) relying on error-correction by a
> browser.  This error correction can and does vary radically
> across different browsers and versions, so that many authors
> who unwittingly relied on the quirks of Netscape 1.1 suddenly
> found their pages appeared totally blank in Netscape 2.0.
> Whilst Internet Explorer initially set out to be bug-compatible
> with Netscape, it too has moved towards standards compliance in
> later releases.  Other browsers of course differ further.
> There are also three specific questions we should deal with here:
> (1) The novice (or non-technical website owner) question:
>     "my site looks right and works fine - isn't that enough?"
> The answer to this one is that markup languages are no more than
> data formats.  So a website doesn't look like anything at all!
> It only takes on a visual appearance when it is presented by
> your browser.
> In practice, different browsers can and do display the same page
> very differently.  This is deliberate, and doesn't imply any kind
> of browser bug.  A term sometimes used for this is WYSINWOG -
> What You See Is Not What Others Get (unless by coincidence).
> It is indeed one of the principal strengths of the web, that
> (for example) a visually impaired user can select very large print
> or text-to-speech without a publisher having to go to the
> trouble and expense of preparing a separate edition.
> It is perhaps unfortunate that the best-known browsers - Netscape
> Navigator and MS Internet Explorer on Windows - are visually very
> similar indeed in their presentation of many documents, differing
> only in trivial details like margins and spacings.  The "same" browser
> on a Mac or Unix/Linux display will often look far more different.
>   (2) The perceptive observation "lots of websites out there
>       don't validate - including household-name companies."
> Do remember: household-name companies expect people to visit *because of*
> the name and *in spite of* dreadful websites.  Can you afford that
> Even if you can, do you want to risk being on the wrong side of a lawsuit
> if your site proves inaccessible to - for instance - a disabled person
> cannot use a 'conventional' browser?  Accessibility is the law in this
> and other countries.  Whilst validation doesn't guarantee accessibility
> (there is no complete substitute for common sense), it is an important
> component of exercising "due diligence".  It is now just over a year
> since a court first awarded damages to a blind user against the owners
> of a website he found inaccessible (Maguire vs SOCOG, August 2000).
>   (3) The strawman argument "validation means boring websites, and
>       stifles creativity".
> This is simply head-in-the-sand ignorance (indeed, it lies at the heart
> many of the most spectacular dot-com failures).  Validation is fully
> compatible with a wide range of dynamic pages, multimedia presentations,
> scripting and active content, etc.  It is part of the difference between
> doing it right and doing it wrong in a dynamic multimedia presentation,
> just as much as in a purely textual site.
> It is perfectly reasonable for authors to express their creativity on
> the Web, though it is clearly more approriate to (say) a recreational
> site than to an informational one.  But authors should bear in mind that
> in any artistic field, you need to start with a thorough understanding
> of the rules before breaking them.  Otherwise you just look foolish.
> --
> Nick Kew
> Site Valet - the essential service for anyone with a website.
> <URL:http://valet.webthing.com/>


Kindest Regards,
Sean B. Palmer
@prefix : <http://webns.net/roughterms/> .
:Sean :hasHomepage <http://purl.org/net/sbp/> .
Received on Monday, 24 September 2001 19:02:15 UTC

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