Of Tag Soup and Standards

I wonder and muse on whether, in reality, It was wise to give browsers the ability to render markup using the 'Tag Soup' rendering engine? or at least such a good ability.

Of course we know that without it more than half the web would vanish overnight, but I am constantly staggered by quite how effective it is at rendering code that is so completely wrong, code that you just stare at and honestly question how or why it has any right being parsed.

I further muse whether it may have been somehow! better to have had a mechanism by which if one wanted to make use of the power and flexibility and benefits derived from Standards and CSS that perhaps this should perhaps have been a function provided through the strict use of 'Strict DTD's only and that in using these the Tag Soup engine would be asked to be far less lenient with code parsing and rendering, thus clearly de-marking a line between good code and bad; I know that true XHTML provides for this and also that the XMl parser has been criticized for being far too strict and non fault tolerant, but I can only see that as a good thing , it says you Must write proper code or else we will return a page list of your errors, not that great a hardship or impossible goal to reach.

Merry Christmas

Santa is bringing us a shiny new server.
Yes, it was many months ago I first promised to get a new server and now is finally it is going to happen. Thanks for being patient.

By the second week of January we should have finished the move to the new server.
Hopefully the downtime will be minimal.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and look forward to a faster site in the new year.

Separation of structure, presentation and behavior

Though few are likely to have noticed, I have not been very active on the forum over the last couple of months. I started school in September, with accelerated classes in Linux installation and administration, and MySQL administration. The eighteen hours a week of lecture and lab, plus the reading, plumb wore me out. The second section started three weeks ago. The Apache administration class had insufficient enrollment and was canceled. That left only PHP. Thank gawd for that.

In the first three weeks, we have each installed our own Apache, MySQL and PHP from source. Plus, we have set up PEAR libs and installed the Smarty templating engine. Each class begins with a quiz on the previous lecture, and ends with a lab project based on the current lecture, plus we have an assignment related to the current week's studies. We will have finished the text by the end of the fifth week, and will spend the last three weeks on developing a web application. I suspect that it will be either a commerce site or something like a blog.

Browsers Released

Most of you should be aware that Microsoft have released IE7. You should also be aware that they plan start pushing it out through automatic updates from the beginning of November. So hopefully you have already added it to your list of browsers to test with. In a rather short time I expect IE7 will become more popular then IE6. Unfortunately we still wont be able to disregard IE6 for a very long time. I wonder how soon people will stop testing with IE5 or have you already.

While we are talking of browsers how can we not mention the final release of Firefox 2. After downloaded and installed Firefox 2, I am very pleased to discover that it has inbuilt spell checking. My spelling is atrocious, (I used spell checker on that one Wink), so to have an inbuilt spell checker to me is fantastic. Check out the list of other cool features in this release of Firefox.

An urban legend bites the dust--divs do not replace tables

Just to clear up a common misconception, one that seems to be at the root of every newcomer's approach to coding for standards, you do not use divs instead of tables. That's important enough to repeat, "you do not use divs instead of tables".

What do you use? You use well structured, semantic and well formed html instead of table layouts. A non-trivial table layout cannot be well structured nor semantic, though it can contain well formed (valid) html.

The div element is a non-semantic structural container that lets you form groupings of other, semantic, elements. Notice, I said elements. A div should never contain bare nekkid content, only elements.

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