Web 1.1 §

Dear Advocates and Stakeholders of Web 2.0:

How can you run around touting the virtue of an entire version increase in the web, when we’re still trying to clean up the first? When I’m faced with cleaning out code produced by modern HTML editors that looks like this:

Screenshot of a section of terrible HTML code

We clearly have an issue.

Web 1.1

So here’s the plan. Let’s forget about AJAX, and Ruby, and Rails, and whatever buzz-tech-acro-leet-marketing jargon we can come up with, and clean out the crap spewed forth by the majority of HTML editors, that the majority of individuals are using.

Okay, I understand it can be difficult to master positioning with CSS, and probably a great deal more difficult getting a WYSIWYG editor to figure it out accurately, but that’s not necessarily the case. Use tables if you gotta, but come on! Redundant font tags, and widths, and heights, et al. This has got to go.

The above code could look like this:

Screenshot of a section of terrible HTML code

There is a difference, despite that grotesque URL in that href. The point is separation of content from style. The class, “specialFont,” applied to the <tr> element will make the necessary font changes, and can even set the widths of its child <td>s! Then any table throughout the site can call on that class and voilá!, you’ve got a simple way to apply the same styles site-wide, and make changes to potentially dozens of pages, from one file.

Even the font family that the abundance of <font> tags are looking for is malformed. If a user doesn’t have any of those fonts available on their machine, the browser will default back to its own default, usually Times. Considering the designer wanted to use such fonts as Arial and Helvetica, bringing in a serif font defeats the purpose. The family attribute needs the generic “sans-serif” reference. (Though this is a stab in the dark, since no font is more popular than Arial, it is still possible.) And, BTW, what is “SunSans-Regular”?

This example is only a single row in a table that contained many more, a part of a page with half a dozen paragraphs, several navigation menus, and a unique header and footer. Putting that into context, you can begin to see that there were probably dozens of redundant <font> declarations, dozens of redundant <td>s and deprecated elements. Inaccessible to say the least. A huge tax on bandwidth to go even further.

I think the point is, that before we start touting the future of the Web with dynamic Web apps, shouldn’t we focus on paring down the code so that when we add all of those behaviour level services to our DOM we can be secure in the fact that we have accessible, usable, bandwidth-phobic code?


Charles Klein

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