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Introduction to Web Standards

Author: JLB

Published On: June 2, 2008

I can already hear most of you that know anything about web development grunting and groaning.  I know, it’s much like forcing a senior in high school to go back and learn the multiplication tables.  But this article isn’t for the senior, it isn’t for the seasoned professional.  It’s for those just building their foundation in the development world.

That said, web standards are open specifications continuously developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) with the simple goal of normalizing the many ways a website, or web page more specifically, is authored.  This is not to say that the W3C is backing up some mainstream web authoring program, such as Dreamweaver, and moving for all developers to do the same, rather the code used to build those web pages.

Just being an intro to a series on web standards, I don’t plan on going into depth just yet on the specific uses for standards or exactly how a compliant page is built.  But I do want to stress how important web standards are and a few quick reasons why.

There’s a whole host of ways to organize content on a website.  One can use tables, divs, (un)ordered lists, etc. paired along with inline or embedded cascading style sheets (CSS) to style the enclosed elements.  CSS can be included inline with an element, embedded in the page head or inserted in its own specific file that each page is linked to.

Imagine for a moment that you’ve been given a math problem that can be solved any of 50 ways and, depending on which way, could take anywhere from 50 lines to 150 lines to solve.  This only gets even harder when none of these ways is necessarily the “right” way and you’re learning how to solve it from 12 different sources.

See what I’m getting at here?  Wouldn’t it be easier if there was one widely recognized way to solve that problem (be it the math problem mentioned above or a website)?  This is the simplest goal of web standards.  They aim to solve the problem of developing a website in a clear, concise, uniform manner that can be passed from author to author with little or no confusion.

Hopefully by this point, I’ve at least given any new to the world of web development the desire to go the extra mile in learning to build and alter websites the right way and not just the quickest.

…Next week Building a W3C Compliant Page From Scratch


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