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Egon Bianchet's List: Pragmatism vs Idealism in Web Design

    • Toward the end of my first year in business, I noticed that more and more of my time was spent working around invalid code. Layout issues that would have been trivial to fix in a valid, error-free template would take significantly longer to debug in a live page that had a few hundred validation errors. It was a matter of figuring out which parts of the page weren’t causing the errors, so I could focus on fixing the problematic section. But when the page’s markup has three or four hundred validation errors, this process quickly becomes a time sink. A necessary one, but a sink nonetheless.


      So by year’s end, I found that approximately fifteen percent of my time was spent mired in invalid code

    • Your markup validator, whether it’s the one on the W3C site or one built into your favorite coding tool, is a debugging tool.
    • Your markup validator, whether it’s the one on the W3C site or one built into your favorite coding tool, is not a measuring stick for greatness.
  • Mar 21, 08

    About realism and idealism on web standards — interesting info on backward compatibility, but a bit of confusion about document structure and rendering.

    • DOCTYPE is a myth.


      A mortal web designer who attaches a DOCTYPE tag to their web page saying, “this is standard HTML,” is committing an act of hubris. There is no way they know that. All they are really saying is that the page was meant to be standard HTML. All they really know is that they tested it with IE, Firefox, maybe Opera and Safari, and it seems to work. Or, they copied the DOCTYPE tag out of a book and don’t know what it means.


      In the real world where people are imperfect, you can’t have a standard with just a spec–you must have a super-strict reference implementation, and everybody has to test against the reference implementation. Otherwise you get 17 different “standards” and you might as well not have one at all.

      • He's confusing document structure with rendering,

    • Today, the standards-based multi-vendor platform implemented by Gecko, WebKit and Opera not only works for Web users but is the preferred platform for developers. IE is a legacy platform that gets the backport. When Microsoft tries to bring the next IE closer to the standards-based multi-vendor platform, the breakage isn’t caused by defects in the standards-based multi-vendor platform—after all, Gecko, WebKit and Opera work with real sites and Web apps. The problem is that sniffed IEness is tainted by the old IE platform.
    • This always reminds me of something that Ben told me years ago: you can’t craft lenses (thus polish glass) with a single abrasive powder, you need at least two different ones. Why? because no matter how fine and well operating, a single abrasive has specific properties and will create specific patterns on the surface. You won’t see the patterns but the result will be not perfectly smooth. Two different ones will likely remove each other patterns. The more different abrasives you use, the smoother the surface will become.


      Which is why both email and the web are such an incredibly messy yet magnificently interoperable systems: their standards are constantly under the action of many different abrasive agents (on both sides of the production/consumption barrier), each one using the surface of interaction with the rest and therefore polishing it by usage/friction.


      The result is incredibly polished (where for “polish” I mean “able to allow a huge variety of players on both the producer and consumer side of the interoperability equation”), but also incredibly inertial.


      • Evolution?

    • In short, a standard is a process, not a specification.
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