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Re: OT: Web Standards

On Tue, Feb 19, 2002 at 11:51:53AM -0600, Kent West wrote:
> Sorry for the Off Topic post, but I have a lot of confidence in the 
> opinions/knowledge of the folks on this list.
> I am not a web developer; know next to nothing about it.
> I have a co-worker who is developing some web pages. I've encouraged him 
> to pass his work through the W3C HTML validator. He says it fails, and 
> that if he recodes to pass, his work appears differently on different 
> browsers. For example, he has two frames next to each other that he 
> wants to have look like one piece, but Netscape 6.x puts a buffer around 
> each frame unless he inserts a non-W3C-approved tag, so that there's a 
> gulf between the two frames.
> So my question is this:
> 	Are the W3C standards insufficient to allow the web
> 	designers to do what they need to do, or is my
> 	co-worker missing a technique that he needs to know?
> In other words, are the W3C standards sufficient to provide a 
> browser-agnostic world, with all the features that designers need? 

Yes and no. Different browsers are *allowed* to render the same HTML in
different ways. Partly because of underlying constraints (e.g. missing
fonts, only 16 colours), partly because the end-user can always override 
e.g. colours, stylesheet, window size, fontsize etc. And probably for 
other reasons too. 

IMHO if your co-worker wants *absolute control* over how things are rendered,
then he's figthing a loosing battle. Essentially you only have absolute
control if you have one big image per page. (Extremism is good for 
proving a point :-)

And then you're still fighting the colour maps, window sizes. Never mind
download speed.

After all, html is only a *markup* language. Yes, stylesheets allow you
to specify most things in pixels, but stylesheets can be disabled by the
user. Treat them as *hints*. If your content *depends* on a stylesheet,
then you're abusing stylesheets.  Booh. Hiss.

But making it look *sensible* in all browsers is not difficult at all.
Stick to the standard stuff that W3C knows about. If you write to the
standard, then all (compliant) browsers will render it in a sensible
way.  Who cares if there's an extra 2 pixels around the edges? People
will be interested in *the content*, won't they?

Achieving that last bit of control is a lot of effort and testing. And
you may well end up excluding e.g. text-only browsers (say bye-bye to
potential customers who happen to be blind!). Excluding 5% of web
= excluding *a lot* of people. Do that a few times and...

> does the W3C-approved label simply mean that the page is coded to the 
> least common denominator, and is therefore not practical for 
> PHB-oriented web sites?

Hm. Least common denominator does not necessarily imply "not suitable
for PHBs". I firmly believe content is king.

> Thanks!
> Kent

The above is mostly my opinion and my (little) experience speaking. Not
Karl E. Jørgensen
==== Today's fortune:
If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it,
we would be so simple we couldn't.

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