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The Markup Validator belongs to this community... (was Re: validation in Opera)

From: Olivier Thereaux <ot@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 13:43:51 +0900
Cc: Nick Kew <nick@webthing.com>, Håkon Wium Lie <howcome@opera.com>, <www-validator@w3.org>
To: Bjoern Hoehrmann <derhoermi@gmx.net>
Message-Id: <0D061DB5-5833-11D7-9260-000393BAB03A@w3.org>

Bjoern, All.

On Sunday, Mar 16, 2003, at 01:14 Asia/Tokyo, Bjoern Hoehrmann wrote:
> I have often used the validator to help others fixing their site, but I
> stopped doing so, when 0.6.0 went live, because I typically have to
> submit the same page two, three and sometimes even four times in order
> to get meaningful results. I also stopped advertising use of the W3C
> MarkUp Validator alltogether

The validator is developed by a very small team, and almost all of its 
development is volunteer work (the only "staffed" effort is the -mostly 
logistical- support Dom and I provide).

Yet it has to juggle between the need to be:
- "perfectly accurate", because many think of it as "the normative 
reference" (and not the spec itself...).
- user-friendly, because it's the most famous validator for markup 
(even though there are other similar services, some as good, even 
better, that W3C's).

You, Bjoern, have often reported (big or) small points in the specs 
that the validator did not get perfectly right. This post also shows 
that you're unhappy with its user-unfriendliness. As you have been a 
very useful contributor to this tool and service, it would not be 
appropriate to call your complaints unfair, yet I want to remind 
everyone, that we're talking about something developed by this 
community: if we want to make a perfect *and* user-friendly tool out of 
the validator, feedback is very good, participation is better.

Feedback is important for the validator. Sometimes, the people coding 
disagree, most of the time there's just not enough time to make 
everything perfect. In such cases, the best thing one can do is to 
check out the code, come discuss on #validator (on the freenode IRC 
network), submit patches... I am sure there are a lot of hackers in 
this community : speak (or rather, patch) up, you're welcome.

As for this particular issue, my *personal opinion* is somewhat in 
between : I would like to make the validator be more user-friendly, yet 
I appreciate the validator's strictness, I am not a big fan of 
"fallback" solutions... And I honestly think that the doctype error 
message is one of the best we have... I would rather see this community 
submit better documentation and improvements to the UI than adding 
fallback behaviour.

Here are a few ideas, feel free to take them home (and back):
- a "what does this mean" page linked from "this page is valid foo" 
- a "what does this mean" page linked from "this page is not valid foo" 
- a better, newbie-friendly explanation for the "no charset specified" 
- a fluffed-up FAQ
- alternate, newbie oriented explanations for the error messages
(rewriting the error messages themselves is something that is being 
worked on in the code, but we have to free ourselves from the tight 
dependency to openSP before we can do this properly).


Cheers, olivier.
Olivier Thereaux - W3C - QA : http://www.w3.org/QA/
http://www.w3.org/People/olivier | http://yoda.zoy.org
Received on Sunday, 16 March 2003 23:43:50 UTC

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