Anne van Kesteren

Validation is nice, but...

...well-formed-ness is far more important (leaving the semantics issue aside)! In a lot of weblogs people refer to new websites that are using web standards. Those websites have often got only a few errors and use their HTML and CSS in a correct way (could be better, most of the times, but sometimes you don't have enough time and you don't know enough). The problem is the kind of errors.

Most of the errors are escaping errors, like & in a URI instead of &. People who are already using XHTML don't seem to realize that it is actually a form of XML, which, when not well-formed, will make a browser crash (other error handling is btw unacceptable imo).

Most people see XHTML as a language that is different from HTML. And not in the way that SGML can create stuff you don't want to know and XML is just an easy language. They think that HTML allows tables and XHTML does not. Ok, now it almost looks like a joke, but some people really think that. Probably because people who were advocating didn't really know what was going on themselves.

It doesn't bother me that websites are almost validating, I couldn't care less about strange attributes only there for scripting (although I would wonder if they could have overlooked a specific HTML attribute, which could be used, since HTML is big, really big), or some obscure element. But I think: pages that are not well-formed are pages that hold the web back (and now you could say: and they always will be).


  1. Do they? I always thought it was just HTML with an XML extention and always thought so... :/

    I must add that I saw people trying to drop tables completely, also for tabular data. But not because it's not allowed but simply because they wanted to get rid of them by all means...

    Posted by Frenzie at

  2. Somehow my comment disapeared, so again:
    sure, wellformedness ist more important than validity, as every valid xml-document has to be wellformed by definition ;]

    Anyway, Respect for your XML-Knowledge at your age. This gives an old man hope for better days.

    Posted by ben at

  3. Since I regularly contribute to five different web developer forums I have empathy with this post any yes there are a multitude of people who think XHTML 1.0 is HTML 5.0.

    Also there are as much people who think the <table> element is somehow now considered bad after the release of XHTML, even in HTML 4.01 is was clearly stated what a table element should be used for and how it should be marked up.

    Posted by Robert Wellock at

  4. I also see loads of people trying to get rid of tables, but instead they use loads of divisions.

    But I think that's actually pretty amuzing.

    Posted by Jerome at

  5. I couldn't agree more. And what's worse, is that a stupid monkey could write well formed code. About 2-5 years ago I was a validation junkie, but then one day I realised that it's not THAT important. Now well-formedness, IS. And it's not freakin' difficult. It drives me NUTS to see pages obviously coded by someone who knows at least the basics about coding, and they're not escaping ampersands while giving an XHTML DTD. If you don't want to escape them, simply use an HTML DTD. Then there's nesting problems. Ugh. There's no need for that by anybody either. I could go on and on with this, but you already get it. So I'll just go to the store.

    Posted by Devon at