W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-validator@w3.org > April 2010

Re: Reporting a Validator bug

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 2010 22:31:01 +0300
Message-ID: <CF32B4D07EBE4E1C85696B1FDC5218FE@JukanPC>
To: "John B. Robb" <johnbrobb@verizon.net>, <www-validator@w3.org>
John B. Robb wrote:

> Thanks for your detailed response.  I take it then, that there is in
> fact a bug in Validator.

Well, virtually any nontrivial (i.e., useful) software has bugs.

Did you miss Ville Skyttä's message? He replied:

"Thank you for the report.  This appears to be a bug in the XML-LibXML 
used by the validator which causes it to end up in an infinite loop:
https://rt.cpan.org/Public/Bug/Display.html?id=56671 "

So the problem has been identified and they are working on it.

Meanwhile, you might consider using the validator
which has no such problem. It reports that your page is valid but informs:

"Line 63, character 74:

...  of William of New Kent &#133; Albemarle Cos, below]</p>

Warning: reference to non-SGML character"

Technically, this is a warning only, since &#133; is not invalid, just 
undefined. Practically all browsers, or almost all browsers, interpret it as 
meaning the HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS character. But you can avoid the issue by 
using the entity reference &hellip; instead, just as you use entity 
references like &ldquo;.

> Your suggestion to use images to simplify the code might make it look
> neater but adding hundreds of images, one for each line, would make
> loading impossibly slow.

It was a questionable suggestion and rather off-topic. This validator list 
is not for discussing page design issues.

> I have left the line
>   <a>Last updated 14May2009<br />&copy; John Barrett Robb</a>
> as it is, even though it has no "href", "id", or "name" components,
> because I don't need them.

This seems to be related to the following text:

> Errors I found
> LINE 663 An "href", "id", or "name" attribute should normally be used
> with this "a" tag. If one of these attributes is
> being set with a script, then consider the accessibility issues of
> requiring scripting. Disable this message if you do
> not want to check for this.

This, and other similar texts, were apparently the output of some 
unspecified loose checker, or "lint-like" program. It's very confusing to 
present such stuff in this list even without telling what is being quoted.

Formally, there is nothing wrong with using <a> without attributes. It's a 
bit debatable what the semantics is then, though. And such elements are 
somewhat risky, since some style sheets or program code might be based on 
the (questionable) assumption that every <a ...> element is either a link or 
a destination anchor. There's also the risk that someone reading your HTML 
code will think it's an error - and maybe generates some real errors when 
trying to "fix" it.

I don't see why you are using <a>, partly because I cannot access your style 
sheet. As such, <a>...</a> markup has no impact on anything, so why not just 
omit it? If you need an inline container for some reason, why not use just 

At the end, you quote your original message:

>> I have a webpage (attached) with an extremely simple structure which
>> the W3C Validator chokes on. [...] It is unusual only in that it
> contains a large number of "&nbsp;"s, which I need to control the
> exact spacing of an indented genealogical tree chart
> (presented like an indented outline).

Two remarks:
1) You should post a URL, not an attachment. In particular, the URL lets us 
access the HTTP headers as well as things referenced by relative URLs.
2) &nbsp; does not guarantee any specific exact spacing. CSS has much better 
tools for fine-tuning spacing. Of course &nbsp; is valid, irrespective of 
the motives for using it, but validity is just a formal aspect.

Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/ 
Received on Saturday, 17 April 2010 19:34:09 UTC

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