W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > December 2000

RE: web page layout standards

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 11:05:10 -0800
To: "'Ken Grygiec'" <kgrygienc@agencyr.com>, <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <005f01c06600$c82e13f0$0100a8c0@aries>
Dave Woolley wrote:
"In that case, why are most home pages on the web (including
most high profile companies, including most high profile
technology companies, including all members of the W3C that
I've tried) not valid HTML?  (The errors I find cannot be
explained by fixups to do with things like margins.)"

Ken Grygienc responded:
"Because, unfortunately, when you use W3C compliant code, your [sic]
limited to what you can do. So then you must bend the rules a little."

I respond:

Um, wrong. True, when you use valid code, you *are* limited in some ways.
But you then have two choices, not one:

You can, as you said, "bend the rules a little."

Or, you can work within the limitations of the code, and work to improve
browsers so that those limitations are overcome properly. All of the
problems we currently have with incompatible code, extra time spent trying
to make things work in multiple browsers, etc. result from trying to do too
much too soon.

Yes, there may be a certain sameness to sites if they use valid code. But
XHTML transitional is not really *that* restrictive. And if you think that
sameness is a problem, look closely at the web's biggest sites. How many
search engines/directories have you been to that look pretty much identical
to Yahoo? (For that matter, Yahoo has a pretty plain look. That doesn't seem
to have prevented people from using it.) Ever look at the portal sites? The
all look the same. Ever look at the news sites? The all look the same. In
fact, copying seems to be the order of the day.

So not only do I think that rule bending (aka rule BREAKING) is unnecessary,
but that it is downright self-defeating as well.

As we sow, so shall we reap. The problem isn't with the code, but with lazy
programmers. Most can't be troubled to learn how to do things properly, or
to make the effort to make their code valid. But then that's just human
nature and is endemic in the software industry, as anyone who's ever used a
computer can tell you: crappy, buggy code is the rule, not the exception.

If you've ever had to modify C, C++, Java, etc. code written by other
programmers, you know what I mean. The reason textbooks emphasize things
like planning before beginning to write code, commenting code, following
style conventions, indenting code, etc. is because many if not most
programmers can't be bothered. And we all pay the price for their sloth.

Charles F. Munat,
Seattle
Received on Thursday, 14 December 2000 13:59:15 GMT

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