[thelist] XHTML and language="javascript"

Charlie Griefer thelist at griefer.com
Wed Jun 18 23:42:58 CDT 2003

>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: thelist-bounces at lists.evolt.org
>> [mailto:thelist-bounces at lists.evolt.org]On Behalf Of Jeff Howden
>> Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2003 4:27 PM
>> To: thelist at lists.evolt.org
>> Subject: RE: [thelist] XHTML and language="javascript"

>> too bad that the ability to turn off script error reporting wasn't added
>> until nn4.  previous to that every error resulted in a separate error
>> window.  ultra annoying to say the least.  at the worst, it could render
>> sites utterly useless.

Hey Jeff (and everybody else):

First off, just want to say Hi to all.  I'm relatively new to this
particular list...but in the short time I've been lurking, have found it to
be a very valuable resource.  There's a lot of fantastic knowledge and
experience driving this.  Hope I can contribute in some small way.

That being said...I've been wanting to bring this up for a few days...but
being the newbie...wasn't sure if it had been done to death already...or if
I'd just be setting myself up for a royal flaming.  But since nothing
ventured nothing gained...here goes :)

I've recently started making sure my code validates XHTML 1.0
(Transitional...I'm not masochistic enough to try and validate strict yet).
One of the biggest motivations for me in doing so is the ability to say, "if
my pages don't display properly in this browser...it's not my fault.  I
complied ot the standards.  This particular browser does not."

Now, this is where I'm expecting the flaming...but please bear with me and
hear my rationale :)

I don't know what kind of situations each of us are in professionally...but
I work for a non profit organization that is woefully under staffed.
Additionally, I pick up as many freelance gigs as I possibly can outside of
work.  In both situations, I simply don't possess the resources to test each
page I write in every browser on every platform.  I don't have the time or
the manpower or the facilities.

Of course, in every task we do, we want to look at ROI.  Every statistic
I've seen (and yes, I know that 86% of all statistics are meaningless) say
that IE 5+ has over 90% of the market (I want to say 97%, but since I don't
have any numbers in front of me to cite, I'd rather err on the side of
caution).  Even the remaining percentage (be it NS or Mozilla or Opera) were
on higher version browers, IIRC.

The question that leaps into my mind is...why expend such resources to
satisfy approximately 5% of the population?  Isn't there, at some point, an
'acceptable level of loss'?  Instead of spending the resources to ensure
that those 5% (as well as the remaining 95%) have an 'adequate'
experience...couldn't (or shouldn't) I invest that time in trying to ensure
that the 95% have as memorable an experience as possible?  And no, I'm not
talking about 'bleeding edge' in-your-face flash animations all over the
site.  And yes, I will readily concede that content is the most important
part of a web site (people surf the Web to find information).  However, the
Web *is* a visual medium, and I believe that if Company B is offering the
same content that I'm offering...but in a prettier package...most would opt
to return to Company B's site over mine.

Let's face it.  There *is* competition.  And with IE 5.5+ and NS 6+ becoming
(arguably) defacto standards...I need to keep up with the competition and
present my information in as memorable a fashion as possible.  Quite
honestly, I can't imagine anybody surfing the Web on NS 4.x anymore...or
surfing with JS turned off.  It just seems to me that a *vast* majority of
the sites out there today adhere to the aforementioned defacto standard.

If you're still reading...great (means you haven't yet hit the 'reply'
button to tell me I'm nuts).  But there is one other reason I take this
'stance', as it were.  The lack of standards has been the nightmare of the
Web developer for...7 years now (brief history on me...my first professional
HTML 'webmaster' gig was in 1996 when I had to check compatiblity between NS
and Mosaic...so yes, I've been in the trenches).  We cry and moan about the
lack of standards, and angrily point fingers at the browser
manufacturers...but I'd go so far as to say they're not the problem.  We
are.  The collective Web development community.  Those of us who jump thru
hoops and bend over backwards making sure that no matter how crappy a
browser is...that we've got a condition or object detection or some sort of
code voodoo to make sure that our code will run properly in it.  We give
these companies no reason to try and change.  No reason whatsoever to adhere
to standards.  Why should they?  We're puppets on strings and we'll
accomodate them.

Is it too idealistic or naive to think that if enough of us do take a
stance, that perhaps these companies might take notice?  If we all write
standards compliant code, and it runs in browser A, but not browsers B, C,
or D...that people might stop using browsers B, C, and D?  And maybe browser
manufacturers B, C, and D will take notice and work harder to ensure that
their product displays compliant code in the expected manner?

(pausing for breath)

That's all I've got.  I hope I haven't offended anybody, as that was not at
all my intention.  I only post this to solicit input.  If I didn't have a
great deal of respect for the folks on this list...I wouldn't have bothered.
But I'm curious.  Am I the only one who feels this way?  I can't possibly be
the only one out here who's tired of the wild inconsistencies between even
different releases of the same browser.

I do hope to hear back from a few of you.  If the list is not the
appropriate place for this particular discussion, feel free to e-mail me
offlist.  Or if there is a more appropriate venue (an online forum
perhaps?), lead the way and I'll be more than happpy to follow.

Charlie Griefer (who is considering cutting down on his daily Red Bull

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