The why and how of HTML and CSS validation

The why and how of HTML and CSS Validation

What does validating HTML or CSS implies?

The HTML and CSS validation, like many other things, have got two folds of people: one fold which realizes the underlying advantages of this proposition and other which does receive the notion but with their set of reservations. Thus, to some people taking recourse to HTML and CSS validation is some kind of a debatable issue while others are sufficiently convinced why the same is more than worth the hassle.

Let’s first discuss what HTML or CSS validation is all about.

Essentially, validating HTML or CSS is an act aimed toward making your web pages error free. HTML or CSS validation tends to ensure by way of a set of instructions or online service that your HTML and CSS codes do not suffer from inconsistencies that might give rise to consequences hard to bear with.

To begin with HTML validation, HTML validators are required in the process. Basically, HTML validators are all there to make it sure that the HTML codes you employ on your web pages are in compliance with the standards set by W3 Consortium, an apex body for the issuance of HTML standards worldwide.

HTML validators falls into several categories including the validators that single out the coding errors on your web pages, and the validators which go a step ahead and offer some insights on better coding practice. The later kind of validators also let you know how certain methods of coding might lead to undesired outcomes. The W3 Consortium offers its own online validator for you to use for free, which can be accessed at: http://validator.w3.org/

CSS validators, much along the line of HTML validators, check the compliance of Cascading Style Sheets with the standards set forth by W3 Consortium. Interesting enough, there are certain CSS validators which not only check for the errors, but also elucidate that what sort of browser is compatible with which sort of CSS features. This is quite important in view of the fact that CSS implementation in different browsers vary. W3 Consortium also provides validation service for your style sheets at http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/

Why is there a need to validate your CSS or HTML codes?

Let’s first understand why there exists an impressive number of proponents of the validation, and what are the accruing advantages out of this exercise that make it their preferred choice.

This is interesting to note that even if your web page contains HTML or CSS errors, it will continue to do well on a specific browser without you even noticing it. Further, this also holds good in case of a particular platform.

This is partly because certain quirk or bug developed on your system gives you a face saving. But the moment the web pages are to be viewed on another browser, or say some different platform as against your current system, the bug no longer works in your defense, and the web pages just end up being seen partially or broken. In this backdrop, validating for web pages for no errors ensures cross-browser, cross- version and cross-platform compatibility.

HTML errors or CSS errors are not taken positively by the search robots or spiders. When the spiders crawl on your web pages, and find such errors, they have but to assume or decide as to what is to be done with the errors. Chances are not very remote that spiders skip such portions of your web page and the same do not get indexed. The matter turns out to be even more unpleasant in case spiders encounter errors in the start of the page, and ignore it in totality.

Thus, the echoes of this instance are felt in the downward movement or even loss of ranking of your pages in search results. That’s why it is recommended to opt for HTML or CSS validation because it can prevent such dreadful possibility to take place in the first place.

This is worth to be mentioned that wishing to make your site error free, and thus testing them in possibly all browsers and platforms does not necessary make it immune from coding or syntax errors.

Needless to say, such mistakes speak high on your ability or rather the lack of it as a webmaster, and the signals they send to users definitely fall short of professional expectations. The situation is even more grim for the business web site which is vying for its target customers amid the cut throat challenges in the marketplace.
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Critics of HTML validation: What do they think?

Here are a few justifications validation critics put forth to support their claim.

Time is a big factor that convinces the critics of validation that it is a tedious exercise and the kind of time and energy can instead be utilized in other useful pursuits. The task of standard compliance of a web site consisting of hundred or thousand of pages seems insurmountable, and hence avoided.

It is true that having no syntax or coding errors on your web page simply means that they will show up the way you want. It is also true that that even after validating your web pages, you have to cross check it on different browsers which are quite tedious.

Therefore, the critics of this proposition believe that if the web pages are doing fairly well, there is reason to volunteer compliance headache. Validation itself is no surety that web pages will work.

Yet another argument the critics put forward in this regard is that average users are interested in finding code or syntax errors. What they simply look ahead is that web pages should open up on their browsers with reasonably nice look.

To sum it up, the critics of HTML validation are right in their stance as long as they see it in short tern perspective. Probably what they fail to think is the fact that there could well be some smart strategy to make this tedious task quite convenient to undertake.

Devising out a smart strategy

It is a good technical strategy to opt HTML and CSS validation for cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility. But as discussed above validating a web site running into hundred or thousand pages requires a great deal of time and energy. So, the need of formulating some smart strategy in this regard arises more than any thing else.

If a bulky and cumbersome work is required to be done, it does not necessarily mean that you have got to do it yourself. Even if you go for it yourself in the spirit of its significance, it would be folly on your part if other crucial tasks you are best at suffer. It has always been a good idea to get the work done by able hands. And, HTML or CSS validation is no exception in this regard.

W3 Consortium’s own web site offers its expert service in this domain. It claims that all the new pages it will create along with all the old pages it will update will comply with the standards. And it honors it too; availing its service constitutes to adopting a smart strategy.

It is damn easy to handle the validation hassle

Critics with their myopic vision apart, there is no debating or denying the benefits that HTML or CSS validation brings in for cross-browser & cross-platform compatibility as well as search engine indexibility. It is an acknowledged fact that validation of a comprehensive site poses some challenges in terms of time constraints. But these challenges can effectively be met once you set the ball rolling for a smart strategy, like one discussed in this article.

Deepak Sharma is a Web Designer at BlueApple, a Web Design and Development Company with a well connected development infrastructure in India having a strong portfolio with global clientele and offering superior web services and solutions at competitive costs.

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