W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-validator@w3.org > April 2004

Re: Tips for deprecated tags and attributes

From: Andrew Robinson <andrew@bml.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 11:05:36 +0100
Message-ID: <40864770.122EDBEB@bml.co.uk>
To: www-validator@w3.org

Frank Ellermann replied to Jukka K. Korpela:

> > Naturally you can write your own DTD
> 
> In theory.  In practice I never tried this, and the "legacy"
> module is not exactly what I want.  

Coming at this from an end user (graphic designer) point of view, I
tried to do this a few days back, and found it next to impossible. I'm
probably the most tech-savvy web guy in the building (having been a
games programmer 20 years ago), and I spent about 6 hours bashing my
head against the problem and got as far as a half dozen syntactically
incorrect bits of code that didn't work. I think that for 99% of people,
writing a custom DTD is not an option, so catering for those people
would be a useful thing to do!

> And I have no idea what
> modern browsers would do with a private DTD.

If anyone does know, please post so this useful snippet can live in the
list archives! From my point of view, a major benefit of validation is
to get browsers out of 'quirks' mode, so if a custom DTD breaks this
behavior I would probably avoid it.

> > it could also allow some common extensions like <embed>

> Yes, there was a thread about this here some days ago.  The
> author solved his problem with <object>

That was me. It might be worth reiterating that the information that
this was possible eluded me after nearly a day of intense googling
(yikes, he verbed Google, call the layers!), and I still am unclear why
Macromedia (authors of Flash) promote the non-valid method. It would be
nice to have definitive answers in the error message for <embed>, or at
least a pointer to current best practice.

One of the hurdles I think the validator needs to overcome is the
intense resistance from the design community, which (from my point of
view) breaks down as follows:

1) validation is difficult
2) valid pages don't look good
3) why bother?

while 3) is an intellectual argument that is outside the remit of this
validator discussion list, I think the other 2 can be addressed to some
extent by the validator's output. If you look around Flash specific
sites, the received wisdom is that Flash can't be used on valid pages,
and therefore validation sucks. Moving error messages from the purely
factual to a more helpful style would be a big step in overcoming this 

On point 1), seeing 57 errors on a page is a big 'turn off' for a
non-techie designer. Perhaps disguising this headline figure would be a
good move, saying instead "there are 9 types of error on this page..."
and listing the types would be more user friendly? I think listing
dozens of specific instances of an error that will be addressed by a
'search and replace' by most authors might be counterproductive for most users.

> The tip of the day goes in this direction, sometimes.  That's
> not necessarily bad.  And I (ab)use(d) the W3C validator as an
> educational tool.

I have to say that I find the concept of a 'tip of the day' a bit
condescending, even when it's useful new information. I'd much prefer
relevant tips linked from error messages.

- Andy_R
Received on Wednesday, 21 April 2004 06:05:53 GMT

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