Validating your HTML

If you don't know what Validating your HTML is, it means
testing your web page to confirm that it conforms to the W3C

If you look at the top of many web pages you will see that
before the HTML tag, there is often a line that states the
version of HTML you are writing for. This may look like:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">

The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) as many of you
know, is responsible for developing the HTML standards. If
you have never visited their web site you can get all kinds of
useful information on HTML at w3.org.

One of the free services they provide is HTML validation.
You can also get your HTML tested at WebsiteGarage
and Net Mechanic

So what is the purpose of validating your HTML? For one
thing, it will identify any obvious coding errors. For another, it
will flag a lot of code you did not think was a problem. As
Molly E. Holzschlag states in her book 'Short Order HTML 4'
1999 by Hayden Books.

"One of the most frustrating aspects of using code validators is
that they can be very picky, returning feedback that might or
might not be relevant to your code style. As with a grammar-
checking utility, you've got to rely on a balance between your
personal knowledge and the feedback obtained using the

One of the problems that compounds the feedback from a code
validator is the fact that neither of the two major Browsers,
Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer, have ever strictly
conformed to the existing W3C standard. If the most popular
Browsers don't conform, then what is the sense in trying to
make your HTML code conform?

The advantage with standards is that they try to pull
competing developers to a common center. Without the W3C
standards there would be chaos that would require that HTML
designers develop web pages for each browser, similar to
software that has to be developed separately for Windows,
Mac and Unix. It is through competition however, that new
technology, ideas and opportunities are developed. That
explains why America Cup Yacht designers and Browser
manufactures are trying to push beyond the current standard.

For web designers, it is important to remember the primary
reasons you are developing a web site. This are usually for the
benefit of your business, your passion or your customer's
business and indirectly for the benefit of the site's visitors.
Your HTML code is simply a means to this end.

From this perspective, validating your HTML can be a very
useful tool. Use it to find potential problems with your code
and easy fixes. Don't however, use it to test that your web site
is fully operational. For that you need to use as many different
browsers and computer configurations you can get access too.

The latest W3C standards are:
4.01 Transitional
4.01 Strict
4.01 Frameset

The next generation of HTML can be found in the XHTML
1.0 Proposed Recommendation

"IMS Web Tips" ISSN 1488-7088
© Copyright 1999 Virtual Mechanics

"IMS Web Tips" is a weekly news letter for all web site managers regardless of experience who are looking for detailed information on creating, maintaining and promoting their web sites.
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