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Thread: Designing Standards Compliant Webpages

  1. #1
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    Thumbs down Designing Standards Compliant Webpages

    OK, every so often, we get into this debate of standards compliance and using CSS instead of tables for layout. Let me kick off another debate in a new thread. Lets respect each other's opinions and keep following the forum etiquette.

    Selling points for standard compliance
    http://www.alistapart.com/stories/csstalking/
    1. Accessibility
    2. Price (ease of creating and maintaining)
    3. Longevity, flexibility
    4. Compatibility is not for the heck of it... but to make pages work for all resolutions, all browsers. That DOES NOT mean pages will display same globally. Means that the structure and layout is device independant.
    5. Make them search-engine-savvy.

    Forward compatibility: The site is available for NS4.7 as well, even if it doesn't look the way it does in NS7.
    http://www.alistapart.com/stories/netscape/

    --------------------------------
    Fear of Stylesheets
    http://www.alistapart.com/stories/fear3/
    Note: Article was written way back in 2000.

    --------------------------------
    Josh Ambrutis' reply about frustration with CSS
    (http://archivist.incutio.com/viewlist/css-discuss/26059)
    <snip>I think many of us forgot how frustrating it was cutting up graphics and cramming them illogically into tables back when we FIRST started</snip>
    <snip>you may have blocked out the table-pain of the early days.</snip>
    <snip>it's a skill well worth at least adding to your arsenal.</snip>

    --------------------------------
    Interview with Peter-Paul Koch and some cross points
    (http://netdiver.net/interviews/peterpaulkoch.php)
    <snip>does one use the NAME attribute of the IMG tag? The most recent W3C spec, HTML 4.0, said one shouldn't...
    I was very surprised that anyone would think of removing this very useful attribute and didn't see the slightest reason to change my coding habits.</snip>
    <snip>"Thou shalt not question the standards!"
    I don't like dogma's and I opposed the more silly consequences of the standards. I still do.</snip>

    <snip>Web standards are a tool, not an end in themselves. If the tool works, great. If it doesn't, look for another tool.
    It all boils down to one question: do you want your site to validate or do you want it to work in all browsers? Sometimes you can't have both. I always choose maximum browser compatibility.</snip>

    <snip>I don't believe in forward compatibility, for two reasons:

    1. Backward compatibility is far more important...
    There are millions of pages written in tag soup style. Browsers must continue to show these pages correctly, or the users of these browsers can't access their favorite sites anymore and will eventually download another browser, which is bad for business...
    2. Forward compatibility makes invalid assumptions about future browsers...
    </snip>

    <snip>Web standards advocates habitually confuse two quite distinct issues:
    1. The general idea that... [everyone] should follow these standards.
    2. The actual web standards themselves.
    I fully support the general idea of web standards...
    I gladly embrace most of the standards, but not all of them.
    </snip>

  2. #2
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    Charles in Saving HTML in Notepad thread
    And making pages work is what we are all about here. As someone speaking of the web once put it, I can't rember who, "Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."
    Oh hell, I have a Valid XHTML 1.0 with Valid CSS 2.0, WCAG-AA compliant page that DOES NOT display on a PDA. Of course I lean heavily towards making accessible pages, but I understand other peoples reasoning about not abandoning age-old habits.

    The reason I turned to standards compatibility are:
    1. Easy to maintain websites
    2. Its fun and helps a lil thing called "ego"
    I didn't exactly turn to standards for making a visually challenged person read my website (hell, I still use 13px font instead of % or em).

  3. #3
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    As I hve said before here in this forum,I say it again,
    Follwoing standards "Should" be the most preferred way of coding,however,My point as allways is its not that the developers are problem in this respect,its the big guys,I mean why not IE start following the w3c standards once for all?

    Why the heck NS introduced the layer element and the list will go on .
    The point is developers are the one those who are actually getting the bashing in this, where as it should have been diverted to the actual culprits.

    Amongst developers,problem rises when one would like to impose( no matter how just the argument may be) a solution onto some one with force, or compell others to folow.
    The best policy is to be not rigid,but allow th others to digest the new info and came at par to the level where they can understand the benefits to follow a new standard.
    I am sure with moderation,we will hardly get in to any argument.

  4. #4
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    The problem, as I see it, is that web design has become more and more complex just as the language used has done...not only do we have HTML and Javascript but now we have PERL, ASP, ORACLE and god knows what else.

    And also having to keep in consideration those who still have "old" browsers like IE3 and Netscape 2 or whatever...so I am left wondering if all these different languages couldn't be consolidated into something that more of us could use more readily.

    Like I told Jona yesterday, I had both basic and advanced web design in college about two years ago but never did we hear the words 'Javascript" or "CSS" used so people like me are left struggling...but I digressed...

    But I still think it would do many of us good if either programming language was "standardized" or the browsers so the designer didn't have to be always concerned that the language used is interpretted in one browser but completley non-functional in another.

    But then again even the web programs themselves interpret codes differently..as I found out as I tried using a simple javascript in FrontPage...it worked there but when I used the same coding in Dreamweaver...it did not work..so maybe everything, from browsers to web programs need to undergo some sort of modification.

  5. #5
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    i believe....

    that people need time to find their way

    people like to explore first...
    then apply and comply to rules later

    not everybody learns at the same rate

    most people respond best to practical examples that they can relate to

    if "the rules" get in the way of the enjoyment...
    "the rules" will usually be resented and suffer for it

    anyone who is truly serious about web development...
    will eventually understand the importance of standards-compliance
    (but they need to truly believe in it before they can truly embrace it)

    a professional always strives to do things professionally...
    while amatuers cannot be expected to behave as professionals

    no one is 100% correct

    the world is full of more opinions than facts

    and lastly...

    I beleive that I never would have been aware of (or cared about) stardards-compliance and accessibility issues if it wasn't for this forum

    thank you everyone!!!

    k

  6. #6
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    While I may be "new" to posting in these forums, I've been perusing them for a long time. It just wasn't until recently that I started running into problems where the question hadn't already been asked, or I had the answer (well at least something to contribute)

    I'm a huge fan of being standard compliant. I'll also be the first to admit to having gaps in what I know. So to be honest, while on the surface it may seem annoying to have someone point out the "correct" standard compliant way to do something, more often times than not that tidbit comes in handy either right then and there or later on. And usually I can in all honestly be glad that was thrown my way.

    On the other side of that, there are times when you know your users are that two-hundreth of a percent who use an outdated browser......maybe it might be helpful to point out that backward compatibility is an issue. but that's just me....

  7. #7
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    Originally posted by khaki
    people like to explore first...
    then apply and comply to rules later
    Well, for most part, you have to comply to basic rules to make things work. You won't be able to compile a C program, for example, without making sure that its syntactically correct. Its just that the older browsers were so forgiving that we have begun to accept sloppy coding as a norm, rather than an exception... hence compliance to the rules seems an unnecessary imposition.

    Having said that, there is no rule that states that tables may not be used for layout. Its a recommendation/guideline. Its wise to adhere to the recommendation, not required. The table layout will work, for the browsers will need to support tables as they are useful and meaningful structural elements in a document. Again, if you are aware of what you are doing, table of the following form - in my opinion - is not a bad idea:

    <table>
    <tr><td><p class="hide"><a href="#content">Skip Navigation</a></p>
    <ul><!-- List of links, styled using CSS --></td>
    <td id="content"><!-- Blah Blah Blah --></td></tr>
    <tr><td colspan="2"><!-- Footer --></td></tr>
    </table>


    Of course, using
    <div id="nav"><-- Nav --></div>
    <div id="contents"><!-- Contents --></div>
    <div id="footer"><!-- Footer --></div>

    is a better idea.

  8. #8
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    ummm.....
    well... I stand by my opinion that people like to explore first...
    then apply and comply to rules later.

    but let's please not assume that I was suggesting that people do so by coding thier pages as so:

    //bodie>
    >html<<>>
    HEAD....
    end HEAD
    <<!bodie<>
    >>html><><>

    (Niket must think that I'm wackier than I really am )

    I certainly hope that my statement was understood to mean that people like to experiment with things such as Javascript navigation, unnecessary rollovers, excessive and/or large images, nested tables (which may not be a rule violation... but still ), embedded sound (same deal as nested tables), scrolling text, etc.

    After all... at some point, everybody likes to play around with the bells and whistles....
    (until they come to the eventual realization that those things become a distraction and an embarrassment - as well as a nightmare to process on a cross-browser level).

    And YES... even my pages at work (and those of my co-workers) have not been coded to adhere to standards (or accessibility)....
    probably due to the fact that permissive browsers allowed us to do pretty much whatever we pleased.

    However... my Jeep will also allow me to drive fast, reckless, on the wrong side of the road, with an unbuckled seatbelt, with my eyes closed, with my knees, while reading, putting on makeup, talking on the cell-phone, etc.

    But.... there are rules....
    and it really falls on the driver (and the developer) to adhere to the rules.
    And unfortunately for the developer's own good... there is no cop around to help keep them in line.

    So yes... standards compliance is (or should be) the goal.
    And I feel that it MUST be the goal if you are going to develop for the web on the professional level.
    And that is why I am looking to change my many bad habits and begin trying to code according to the standards.
    But... it's a process (it won't happen overnight... no matter how badly Charles or Vladdy or whoever wants it to happen immediately )

    After all... I was probably not even "ready" to do so... until I was ready to accept the commitment that it requires to do it.
    And THAT is why I think that so many people DO NOT code according to the standards (in my opinion):
    It's just too hard to break bad habits and stop using certain bells and whistles (especially without a cop around to deter you from breaking the rules)

    So... thumbs-up to standards compliance....
    (but let's not get obsessive about it on every question ).....
    k

    (see.... another freakin' novel. THAT'S why we need off-topic threads around here....
    just to distract ME from threads like this one! lol)

  9. #9
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    I have been Web developing for about a year and a half. I couldn't, and still can't, afford Frontpage or Dreamweaver, so I learnt to hard-code my pages right from the start. From there it hasn't been much of a move to develope pages that fit HTML 4.01, CSS 2 and are reasonably accessible. All it took was a few exchanges of posts with Charles for me to start to learn about it, I got interested and soon knew enough to make better pages than I had been.
    However, if you are using FrontWeaver then it would be much harder. They both produce imperfect code, and there isn't really anything you can do about it if you can't learn HTML for whatever reason.

  10. #10
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    //bodie>
    >html<<>>
    HEAD....
    end HEAD
    <<!bodie<>
    >>html><><>

    Lolz

    while amatuers cannot be expected to behave as professionals
    The problem is that there are a lot of professionals that behave as amateurs.

    You wont believe what code-soup a "professional" designer came up with, while I was coworking with her on a NPO (non-profit org) site. She used three nested tables for border{1px solid black}, never used a </tr> and used absolutely positioned table that displayed over other contents when viewed in a window less that 800px wide. And she earns $50K for doing just that in a dotcom in Atlanta!!!

    Not so long back, creating a new page meant copying an old page and then editing it so that layout due to table structure remains consistent. Now, all I need to do is to ensure that I give my contents an id="contents", navigation an id="nav", footer an id="footer" and banner an id="logo" with image before page title. As far as I have that, I can do almost anything with my html... almost.

    - niket

  11. #11
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    And yes, million thanks to stefan, charles, robert, rickbull et al on this forum for literally hammerring that into my head.

  12. #12
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    Erm, yes sometimes you do need a sledgehammer, other times a toffee hammer and if you are really lucky a nail hammer shall hit the nail on the head.

    I tend to feel Zeldman is overrated though, but is definitely affective at marketing himself.

  13. #13
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    hmmmm....

    I always seem to get the jackhammer around here

    and just to clarify something that cijori said:
    Frontpage and Dreamweaver don't necessarily produce imperfect code IF you don't use the WYSIWYG part of it.

    Hard code it yourself and it will be whatever YOU coded...
    regardless of the tool that was used to create it.
    So if YOU code it imperfectly in one of those editors...
    then you would probably code it imperfectly in Notepad as well.

    I just wanted to make that point

    Also...
    Since Frontpage and Dreamweaver (and other editors with WYSIWYG capability) don't create standards-compliant code (in WYSIWYG mode)...
    the W3, standards-compliance, and the online community is DOOMED!

    How can we expect standards-compliance to exist while people are being encouraged to make "shortcut" (also known as "no skills/no knowledge") web pages?

    After all... if someone could not be bothered to learn/understand even the most basic of HTML...
    why would anyone expect them to follow the standards of something that they have no clue about in the first place?

    okay.... I got my periodic WYSIWYG rant out of the way for today

    k

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