Why Doesn't This Site Do What I Say You Should Do With HTML And CSS?

It has been pointed out to me by a few people that the way that the HTML on this site is written does not match to the way that I say you should be writing your HTML today. Since there is a very good reason for this difference that actually reinforces the point I am trying to make in how you should write your HTML I am going to answer those queries publicly in this article.

The first point that I want to make with this is that the way that I recommend that you write your HTML today using the HTML 4.01 strict doctype and standards has only been possible to do since the demise of Netscape 4 since Netscape 4 and other earlier browsers such as IE4 did not support the CSS necessary to be able to separate content and appearance. So what I am recommending that you use has only been possible since around 2005 or 2006 (depending on just when you considered your Netscape 4 users to have fallen low enough to ignore them).

This site was first created in 2000 and currently has about 2000 pages on it. Each year I have spent huge amounts of time in going through all of the web pages in order to update the way that the pages look. Originally the site used a table layout with a left column containing navigation links and the right column containing the content. At that time there was no other way to produce a layout that had two columns as the necessary CSS wasn't supported yet. It took me months of rewriting each individual web page to get rid of those layout tables when I decided to change the site appearance so as to not use that two column layout any more. I have spent further months of work on gradually cleaning up the HTML on the pages slowly getting rid of all the obsolete HTML tags and attributes and replacing them with the correct nmodern equivalents. There is still a long way to go and I will probably need to devote several more months in going through all the pages to replace all the garbage codes that were needed back when the site was first created but which are now just an annoyance due to the huge amount of time that I will need to spend to clean it up.

One thing that I need to keep in mind in doing this cleanup is that comparatively few people are going to care about how my web pages are coded just as long as they are useable. This means that adding new content to the site answering people's questions and providing more tutorials on how to do things is a higher priority than cleaning up the ten year old garbage from the web pages that atill works but isn't the right way to do it now.

The one thing that this garbage HTML does prevent me from doing is any changes to the appearance of the page that would be impacted by that HTML - such as the class="centre" attributes that would prevent my deciding to left align those pieces of content. I must get the HTML fixed properly before I can make those sorts of changes. That means that I need to devfer such changes until I can spend the months of time needed to finish cleaning up the pages first.

It is to allow old sites such as this one to be able to gradually fix their HTML that the transitional standards exist. Any site built using the transitional standards will require months in order to make any significant changes to the page appearance each and every time that such changes to the appearance are required. Only be spending the time when making such changes to get rid of as much garbage as possible do you make subsequent changes to your site appearance easier.

The tutorials on the site that cover HTML tell you how to code your page the modern way that will avoid all of the issues that I have in being able to maintain my site. These tutorials teach you the way to write your web pages the correct way for current browsers which is the exact way that I write HTML for any new sites that I have created since browsers supported this way of coding. It is only because of the problems that not following the correct modern way of coding that this site which was created prior to browser supporting that way doesn't do it that way. I just haven't had enough time yet to go through all the pages and fix everything completely to follow the proper standards simply because by not having followed modern standards each and every change takes thousands of times longer to implement than if it used HTML 4 strict.

These problems are understandable for any web site created before 2005. For sites created since then it is just creating an avoidable maintenance nightmare for yourself to not create your pages the way I recommend in the tutorials.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

go to top

FaceBook Follow
Twitter Follow