Lately, and especially evident in the beginning of the summer after the @media conference, people proclaimed that the war of web standards is won and that we should move on to focus on other things. Let me please say that the war is so far from over.
Let me first discard the notion that it is a war. Anyone who regards it as a war and as something we have to win will ultimately fail to spread the word. The whole idea of informing people about web standards and the advantages gained from using them is that they will feel that they truly benefit from them; not that it is forced down upon them.
And to say that the word of web standards is spread enough now, that we have reached every web developer out there and that most people use them, is very far from the truth and the real world (as opposed to web developer conferences where everyone are die hard fans, agree all the time, join hands and sing “Kumbaya”…).
I’ve worked for a number of companies here in Sweden, have had a broad range of assignments and frequently evaluate different web sites, and can honestly say that I know of maybe only 20 web developers in Sweden that follow and truly understand web standards. Then, of course, most likely there’s more, but they’re definitely a minority in the web developer community. I would say that the word and purpose of web standards have gotten through to no more than a couple of percent of the web developers in Sweden.
I also believe that the level of web standards knowledge in Sweden is in no way different from the rest of the world. Visiting numerous international web sites and from knowledge gathered through web developers I know all over the world, it seems like it’s the same story everywhere.
Why are web standards important?
A problem is that people seem to think that validation is for the good of the web developer. To slap on a badge of being valid, boast about it to your fellow web developers, maybe show-case it in some conference and that’s it. However, having valid content is not to have something to be proud of; it’s a given cornerstone for stable web sites and for doing your job properly as a web developer.
I think one of the answers to why web standards is important was expressed best and most concise by Tantek:
Also, when you have a web page with invalid HTML code, all you can trust to hold it together is the web browser’s error handling; i.e. a program’s guesswork of what you were actually trying to convey. And, even if it works in one web browser, there’s a myriad of other web browsers, platforms and devices out there that it should work in too, and then you have to hope that the error handling in them will be exactly like each others’. Doesn’t sound very likely, does it? And it sure doesn’t sound like a professional approach to developing web pages.
Tools for validating
There are many options out there to easily and swiftly make sure your HTML code is valid. A number of the most common ones, and the ones I resort to, are:
- W3C Markup Validation Service.
- Html Validator extension in Firefox.
- Web Developer extension in Firefox.
- Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar.
Spread the word
You may know everything there is to know about web standards, but remember that you are indeed a minority. Spread the word to other web developers, use best practices and show system developers and decision makers all the benefits of using web standards. Most people are interested in a lot of time saved and money gained and/or saved, so it shouldn’t be hard to sell.
We all want web developing to go as smoothly as possible, and there’s a solution for it. Please, let other people know about this.
You should also make sure to read Roger Johansson’s opinions in DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop advocating best practices.