Topic: Validation - What's the big deal?

I know that HTML validation is important, and I know why I think it is, but I'd like to get your take on it. If a web page looks right, then validation is not a big deal, right? Why spend all that extra time to spit-and-polish a web page to make it validate?

so...

How would you explain why HTML validation is important?

Ryan Heneise  |  Art of Mission  |  Now with extra-strong Donor Tools mojo

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

lol - hope you are wearing a flak jacket (not that this is that kind of forum!). Here is my take on it:

1.  There has to be a standard way a web browser (or any software that parses html) knows what it is looking at otherwise we have anarchy with pages looking different acroos platforms and browsers ;-).
2.  That standard has to be adhered to by everyone who invests in the technology otherwise what is the point?
3.  By adhering to that standard the web designer can ensure to the best of his ability that the page will 'look right' across as many platforms and browsers as possible and will continue to look right in the future.
4.  It what seperates people who know what they are doing from those who design websites using something like geocities and makes me feel important and that I didn't waste a few years of my life in pointless education.

I'm sure you'll get more detailed answers from other users of the forum.

mrbelfry

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

Quite basically I will go with mrbelfry's point 4.  It's what separates the pros from the ameteurs.

The L in HTML stands for LANGUAGE.  Language has syntax and grammar.  So does HTML.

I see validation errors (the small pesky, hard to reach ones, ie, unencoded ampersands, etc...) a lot like I see spelling, syntactic, and grammatical errors (of which I make hundreds per day when writing).  Not a lot of people notice, but it counts, and it makes you look less educated, and might cost you points in certain situations (professional articles, resumes, etc...).  But they don't usually kill you in normal every conversation (like writing a post in a forum...)

However, if you are improperly nesting tags, using non-semantic markup, etc., I would argue that you are not writing HTML.  You are writing tag soup.

If you are doing this, I would label you as not knowing HTML, one of the foundations of being a Web designer.

Shifting directions slightly.  Why is it that there is no syntax checking that goes on with HTML?  When you write in nearly any other language (C, Java, etc, etc...) you get ERRORS if you use improper syntax.  This does not happen with HTML.  This makes validation errors seem like less of a big deal, but they are the same.  They can cause unpredictable behavior accross platforms, or just plain break.

That's my 2 cents.  Rife with grammatical, syntactic and spelling errors.

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

Great point, Matt! I agree with you. Just like with learning any language you start with the basics. You go through a process expanding your vocabulary and building up your grammar skills. For me, validation is like a teacher going "Look, Artjom, here's something you need to improve. This is absolutely wrong. That is out of place." If I want to excell in my proficiency of a foreign language, I need to follow the rules. The rules that, just like mrbelfry mentioned, will make sure my spelling, grammar and vocabulary "look right in the future".

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

I think of it this way: In the physical world, we "wrestle not against flesh and blood." Likewise, in the digital, the unseen is just as important. Okay, so maybe that's a bit too philsophical. I think validation is important, because we have a basis for where to start. Without a standard, we'd be right back in the early 1990's, at which time web was of little interest to me, because of the lack of organization required to produce a site. It wasn't until the notion of standards came about that I really started caring.

Give me liturgy or give me death.

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

Ryan -

ryenski wrote:

How would you explain why HTML validation is important?

Bottom line for me, now that I've learned the standards way of developing, is that, all other things being equal, the standards validated page will likely work better cross-browser and into the future.  Can a page be built to standards that doesn't work in IE?  No doubt about it!  Can a perfectly crafted javascript function designed as a crucial element of a page break things when the user turns off scripts?  Definitely!  That means validated code is not THE answer but an important part of the whole.  We have several sites that were built before I heard the message about standards, that work well in all browsers and look as they were designed and our clients are perfectly content with them.  They would be sneered at by y'all because they employ table layouts, with markup, style, and behavior all in one place.  They were lovingly coded by hand, with graphics optimized for a quick load (much to the aggravation of my graphics designer wife and partner wink), and lean.  They don't even come close to validating.  Are they crap?  From a standards perspective, and an accessibility perspective, yes.  From a functional and visual perspective, no.  Since I've seen the light my code is standards compliant, with markup and style separated.  I have many sites to re-code and little time to accomplish that, but evetually it will get done.  I have an automatic validator extension in my browser so that I instantly know when I've messed up with my markup without having to take an extra step.  That helps tremendously.

That’s my 2¢.  :^{>

Honored to Serve for Him - Tom ('Mas) Pickering <)><

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

Matt -

Matt Heerema wrote:

Shifting directions slightly.  Why is it that there is no syntax checking that goes on with HTML?  When you write in nearly any other language (C, Java, etc, etc...) you get ERRORS if you use improper syntax.  This does not happen with HTML.  This makes validation errors seem like less of a big deal, but they are the same.  They can cause unpredictable behavior accross platforms, or just plain break.

Because of the free-wheeling nature of the Internet, with obviously more amateurs adding content than professionals, the browser manufacturers have made the interpreters much more forgiving, opting to have the interpreter execute a guess rather than die with an error message.  Since each browser makes different guesses on top of having varying levels of standards knowledge, it's a crap shoot as to what will be displayed when an amateur attempts to express themselves in HTML.  If browsers handled code like virtually all other interpreters, there'd be almost no amateur participation to be found.  Maybe that would be a good thing, but I really don't think so. smile

That’s my 2¢.  :^{>

Honored to Serve for Him - Tom ('Mas) Pickering <)><

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

Heh... I was hoping to stir up a bit of a hornet's nest with this question.

Best response so far...

mrbelfry wrote:

4.  It what seperates people who know what they are doing from those who design websites using something like geocities and makes me feel important and that I didn't waste a few years of my life in pointless education.

Here are my own thoughts that I wrote down before I posted the question...

Consistency - ensure that various browsers will interpret the page correctly.
Compatibility & Accessibility - ensure that the page is readable by accessibility devices such as screen readers (for the blind) and mobile devices such as phones.
Professionalism - a professional writer wouldn't release a document with typos and grammatical errors, and a programmer wouldn't release a program with syntax and calculation errors. So neither would we release a web page with validation errors.

Matt Heerema wrote:

However, if you are improperly nesting tags, using non-semantic markup, etc., I would argue that you are not writing HTML.  You are writing tag soup.
...

Very true! I hate tag soup! I've been known to re-engineer entire websites for a simple content update, rather than wade through tag soup to update a bit of HTML.

Nathan Smith wrote:

I think of it this way: In the physical world, we "wrestle not against flesh and blood." Likewise, in the digital, the unseen is just as important....

We wrestle against the powers of bad design and markup... We are code warriors!  Raaarr!  But seriously, it is sometimes a battle to work against poorly coded websites. Our job is so much easier when the rules are clearly defined and followed.

Thanks for your very helpful comments, everyone. I'm doing a brief write-up on a church website, and I want to talk about validation. When I first saw the site, it struck me as a very nice and well-done website, but it didn't validate. So I contacted them, and they were kind enough to fix all the validation errors! So now I have something to write about! And it's a great opportunity to shed some light on the topic of validation.

Ryan Heneise  |  Art of Mission  |  Now with extra-strong Donor Tools mojo

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

Nathan -

Nathan Smith wrote:

I think of it this way: In the physical world, we "wrestle not against flesh and blood." Likewise, in the digital, the unseen is just as important. Okay, so maybe that's a bit too philsophical. I think validation is important, because we have a basis for where to start. Without a standard, we'd be right back in the early 1990's, at which time web was of little interest to me, because of the lack of organization required to produce a site. It wasn't until the notion of standards came about that I really started caring.

The early 90's saw the birth of a new means of expression that stretched beyond physical borders to make the earth a much more accessible place.  All of a sudden, a person in a remote rural locale could have their business reaching customers anywhere in the world at any time of day.  How magical is that?  Was it unorganized?  Sure.  Maybe you missed something by avoiding the chaos that was only starting to sort itself out.  We can all to easily run the risk of holding ourselves too far above the masses because they don't understand the beautiful craftmanship that goes into a standards-based design.  We run the risk of being pharisaical instead of meeting the "unsaved" where they live like Jesus did.  He never diluted His message and neither should we, but He did sit down with sinners, saw to their needs, and helped them to understand His message on their terms.

That’s my 2¢.  :^{>

Honored to Serve for Him - Tom ('Mas) Pickering <)><

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

Excuse me for offtopic, guys!

maspick wrote:

I have an automatic validator extension in my browser so that I instantly know when I've messed up with my markup without having to take an extra step.

Mas, you are not talking about the Web Developer Toolbar, are you?

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

Artjom -

idcaft wrote:

Mas, you are not talking about the Web Developer Toolbar, are you?

Though I do have the Web Developer Toolbar in use also (an invaluable tool), this extension is called the HTML Validator 0.7.9, put out by the people who bring us HTML Tidy, I think.  It displays an icon in the right end of the status bar that has a green check mark for validated, a red exclamation point in a yellow triangle for warnings, or a red X for errors.  Clicking on this icon will open an extended source viewer with the errors and warnings highlighted in the source and detailed in a smaller pane at the lower left.  With this running, I make a change to the page and then a reload is automatically and visually checked for me, with helps to locate and fix the problems.  Makes all the difference for me.

That’s my 2¢.  :^{>

Honored to Serve for Him - Tom ('Mas) Pickering <)><

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

I have that extension for firefox also.  It is truly awesome, and helps me so much.  Since installing it, I've gone back through all of my sites and fixed tons of errors that have crept in over time.  It even shows possible WAI warnings.  Very useful.

Last edited by BroChris (2006-05-04 10:21:14)

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

maspick wrote:

HTML Validator 0.7.9

Indeed a brilliant extension and an incredibly useful addition to anyone's toolbox.

Re: Validation - What's the big deal?

That thing is sswwweet. Thank you.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose