W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-validator@w3.org > August 2001

Re: when using validator is not sensible

From: <JAMESICUS@aol.com>
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2001 13:42:07 EDT
Message-ID: <91.ee0bce5.28ad5fef@aol.com>
To: www-validator@w3.org
CC: yuri@cactus-books.com
In a message dated 8/16/01 8:54:43 AM US Mountain Standard Time, Yuri 
Generalov wrote:

>  For me, the process of building valid code is largely a struggle between 
>  things which sometimes can not exist together: valid code and interoperable
>  web page. No, this is not a mistake. In my experience, using validator to 
> check
>  for code validity and picking out all of invalid code meant loosing 
> interoperability
>  and finally, when validator said "Congratulations..." my webpages showed up
>  differently in different browsers.
>  This is probably because different browsers handle HTML and CSS 
>  Naturally, I want my pages appear in all browsers similarily, but I have 
> sacrifice
>  this in favour of valid HTML.
>  Most web designers I know, used to check their webpages to properly appear 
> in
>  IE3+, NN3+, Opera and Mozilla. So did I. The code was invalid, but 
> interoperable.
>  Now, when I use validator, I have valid but not interoperable code.

A major tenet of Interoperability is that Web pages constructed using valid 
HTML will function in all graphical Browsers. Pages constructed using invalid 
HTML -- typically using HTML with propriety tags and constructs -- will only 
function reliably in Browsers designed to accommodate those tags and 

Function means that all text and images will display in the correct sequence, 
navigation will be as intended and all hyperlinks will work correctly. The 
layout/presentation of Interoperable pages may not be exactly as designed in 
all graphical Browsers, but they will function.

One problem facing the typical Web page author is that they only observe 
their creations -- during construction and as finished products -- in their 
resident default graphical Browser. If they validate the HTML used in 
producing their pages they can be assured that they will function in other 
graphical Browsers, but how will they display? Also, how will the pages 
function in text only Browsers, specialized WCA (Web Content Accessibility) 
Browsers (speech, text magnifiers, etc.) or in graphical Browsers with image 
rendition turned off?

The obvious answer is to have a representative selection of Browsers 
available on the computer used to generate Web pages in order to test the 
production. It should be noted that somewhat inconsistent display or function 
is usually not a big problem when the viewing audience is small and the 
computers being used are fairly homogeneous, but it can become a formidable 
problem when the anticipated viewing audience is universal -- a great 
diversity of computers, operating systems, Browsers and user proficiency & 
sophistication can be expected. The average viewer will normally use their 
resident default graphical Browser as provided -- Sophisticated viewers often 
change the configuration of their Browsers to reflect their color, font 
selection and text/image size preferences.

A visit to any Browser download page will reveal a bewildering list of 
Browser versions -- some with excellent performance track records, others 
with dubious reputations -- both new and old applications. Obviously it is 
impractical to install them all for test purposes -- a representative 
selection will suffice.

In general, graphical Browser versions correlate with HTML versions, thus, 
Netscape 3.x was contemporary with HTML 3.x. Hardly any 2.x version Browsers 
exist today, for they only operate on Windows 3.1 Operating Systems or early 
MAC/Unix OS and HTML 2.0 is no longer in general use. Most later 3.x version 
Browsers are compatible with Windows 95/98, MAC, Unix and Linux as are 4.x 
version Browsers. Some Internet Explorer and Netscape implementations of 
these versions deviate from W3C standards and only function reliably and 
correctly with their own propriety versions of HTML. The 5.x Browser versions 
were the first to advertise full accommodation of Cascading Style Sheets 
(CSS) and be generally W3C Standards compliant -- Internet Explorer 5.5 and 
Opera 5.x are particularly good in this regard. The upcoming 6.x versions are 
anticipated to be fully Standards and CSS compliant. The first Browser 
released in this series -- Netscape 6.01 -- was quite "buggy" (for one thing 
it did not render XHTML 1.x very well) and received generally unfavorable 
reviews. Internet Explorer 6.1 is now available and is much improved in this 
respect. The advent of CSS as the recommended vehicle for separating Web page 
content from presentation has brought us to the crossroads for graphical 
Browser implementation: In general, 5.x version Browsers -- and on -- will 
display CSS compliant pages as designed -- earlier versions will not, 
although all Web pages utilizing valid HTML will function reasonably well in 
earlier Browsers.

Many Web page authors install the current (latest) stable versions of the 
major graphical Browsers, a graphical Browser representative of each version 
family, a current text only Browser and a specialized WCA (Web Content 
Accessibility) Browser. Such a selection will enable authors to see how their 
compositions perform in a variety of Browsers. Following is a representative 
list of popular Browsers:

* Current CSS compliant Graphical Browsers:

Internet Explorer 5.5 / Opera 5.x

Netscape 6.1

* Representative earlier version graphical versions:

Netscape 4.7x / Netscape 3.04 (Gold)

WebTV 2.5 graphical Browser (viewer)

* Text Browser:

Lynx 2.83

* WCA Text/Screen Magnifier/Speech Browser:

MultiWeb 1.0

The best location for downloading the graphical Browsers is via CNET's 
Browser page (link to download page there) -- this is a an excellent resource 
for anyone interested in keeping up to speed with Browser development, 
evaluation and performance. The URI is:


For a complete listing of all currently available Browsers visit Browser 
watch -- all the Browsers .....


..... you will be amazed at how many there are!

Additional thought on the Netscape version 4.7x version Browsers:

IMO these are some of the "buggiest" browsers ever produced. Although 
advertised to handle CSS, they do not do so at all well.

The heart and soul of Web page interoperability remains employment of valid 

James Pickering
Tucson, Arizona

Tools for Web Page Authors: http://www.brazilcacticult.org/wf.htm
Practical Italic Writing: http://www.brazilcacticult.org/corsiva.htm
Brazilian Cacti in Cultivation: http://www.brazilcacticult.org/
Arizona Plants & Animals: http://www.brazilcacticult.org/azgallery.htm

~ Validated ISO-HTML/XHTML 1.1 & CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
~ Bobby Approved - Accessible to People with Disabilities
Received on Thursday, 16 August 2001 13:42:47 UTC

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