Why Validate? – Arran Ross-Paterson #LWSWorld

This month, Marcus Alexander of EMC Consulting and Arran Ross-Paterson (of this parish) talk about HTML in the real world, dealing with clients, and what a quality project actually looks like.

These are my notes on Arran’s talk:

LWSWorld - Why Validate - Arran Ross-Paterson

Greeted by boos from the crowd, Arran’s controversial talk focused on why we shouldn’t worry that our web sites don’t validate in the W3C checker.

Browsers don’t care, nor does Google. Unless it’s a requirement, just use it as a sanity checker. Your code doesn’t always have to validate to be valid.

Alt tags
Alt tags never fully describe a picture. There’s no point in having an alt tag on an image if it’s not completely descriptive. If the image is just to attract attention, then don’t worry. If it’s an image map, you will need to add some more description.

Calendars look like tables, but they could be a list, and surely it’s ordered, but if you’re doing an event calendar, a definition list is the most semantic markup, except that <dl>s are really hard to style and missing tags can cause problems. Having <dd> inside a <dt> isn’t correct according to the validator, but feels more correct semantically.

Don’t abandon standards
Standards are very useful, so don’t abandon them. They’re great for learning and teaching people, to bring them up to a certain level, but as long as it works, don’t sweat it.

Thanks again to Arran for his talk. See my notes tonight’s other talk: Marcus Alexander’s on real world HTML

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Steve Workman

Steve is an engineering manager at Maersk, and organises BerkshireJS. He has also worked at Yell and PA Consulting and is a former organiser of London Web Standards

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