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View Poll Results: What DTD do you use?

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  • HTML (no DTD)

    6 3.30%
  • HTML 4.01 Strict

    38 20.88%
  • HTML 4.01 Transitional (this includes all subtypes)

    12 6.59%
  • XHTML 1.0 Strict

    80 43.96%
  • XHTML 1.0 Transitional

    46 25.27%
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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict drjones013's Avatar
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    Do we really need web standards?

    I was "raised" on Ian Lloyd's Build Your Own Website the Right Way; the book advocates the XHTML 1.0 Strict DTD. Discussion with others on IRC's and this forum led me to eventually switch over to "semantic" HTML 4.01 Strict. There are a lot of people who have made the switch but there are more than a few holdouts who say that web standards are pointless if the client doesn't care. What does everyone think? Please leave a short blurb about your preference and why you think it's important/unimportant to use the W3C recommendations.

  2. #2
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    I personally use xhtml 1.0 strict because I script a lot using php and DOM meaning that I use xml and xslt's pretty frequently. The rigorous standards help keep everything clean.

  3. #3
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    I vote for XHTML Strict.

    Yes, I believe strongly in web standards. Look at the alternatives - either a Microsoft-dominated web, or complete chaos, all sorts of proprietary lock-in crap, and everybody doing their own thing.

    As a newbie I'm tempted by all the talk around here of moving back to HTML 4.01 Strict because of the greater compatibility issues. But if we all do that, we'll never move forward. Since my website(s) will be purely hobbiest, I can take the risk, and try to be more "cutting edge".

    So lets design our sites to look best in the newer browsers, but not to degrade too badly in Internet Explorer. If IE refuses to move with the times, leave it behind, gracefully. But don't let it hold the entire web back, which is, effectively, Microsoft holding us all to ransom.

    I'm a fan of extreme measures. Simply stop supporting archaic browsers - if any hold-outs out there insist on using them, then tuff on them. Support IE, but not to the extent that we let it hold us back. Really support the standards-compliant browsers, as (we hope) their market-share increases and IE's decreases. Hopefully Microsoft will become worried enough about this that they'll make their browser more standards-compliant.

    If Microsoft refuses to play ball, sod 'em. I'll even go as far as keeping separate webpages/stylesheets for IE vs the other browsers, with an emphasis on the web-standards and accessibility stuff. I'm just starting off and I have loads of webspace, and no accountability to anyone or anything but myself. So I'll do it my way.

    I know many of you can't (or won't) do this, for a multitude of reasons. I know that most commercial or "official" websites can't do this, but if the zillions of hobbyist web designers out there were to join the web-standards camp, it might just create a huge enough ground-swell to force browser vendors (namely IE) to begin moving the entire process forward to the next level.

    At least that's the plan. Maybe I'm just too much of a newbie, and I don't know what I'm talking about.

    Phil

  4. #4
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    I use XHTML Strict as well. It's the case of the snake biting its own tail. If we keep using what's available now, we'll never get anywhere. The same arguement was made years ago regarding table-based layouts and CSS layouts. Now we're using CSS layouts, and the Web is (for the most part) much better off for it.

  5. #5
    CSS & JS/DOM Adept bronze trophy
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    My preference is HTML 4.01 Strict but I use XHTML 1.0 if the client requests it.

    Web Standards are a must. Seeing how things are when IE has major support issues should be enough for anyone to see we need standards to make sure all browsers can handle the same web pages.
    We miss you, Dan Schulz.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tailslide's Avatar
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    I personally use XHTML 1.0 Strict for no particular reason other than it's what I switched to very early on as I was learning all this stuff and I've stuck to it.

    I'm not entirely sure that it matters entirely what DTD you use as long as you use one and as long as you use it correctly.

    Do you know what I hate about threads like these? That pretty soon there'll be someone along to say - "I don't use web standards because I like my sites to look attractive and all web standard-following sites are boring".

    So I feel I should say here and now that we should strive to ensure our sites use semantic, accessible, valid markup AND have attractive designs AND fulfill their purpose for their client and user. There - said it. No point in having a 100% valid site if it's ugly as hell. No point in having a beautiful site if it's not accessible.
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  7. #7
    SitePoint Addict drjones013's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tailslide View Post
    So I feel I should say here and now that we should strive to ensure our sites use semantic, accessible, valid markup AND have attractive designs AND fulfill their purpose for their client and user. There - said it. No point in having a 100% valid site if it's ugly as hell. No point in having a beautiful site if it's not accessible.
    Couldn't agree more, this thread is more for my curiosity in regards to the usage of XHTML versus HTML; are people using XHTML just because (Ian Lloyd told them to) or because they believe that the web will one day progress towards XHMTL?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by drjones013 View Post
    I was "raised" on Ian Lloyd's Build Your Own Website the Right Way; the book advocates the XHTML 1.0 Strict DTD.
    I haven't read Ian's book, but unfortunately I've heard that is the case. He seems to advocate 'XHTML' without bothering to explain the consequences. That's too bad, especially when he's got 'the right way' in the book title.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_Friel View Post
    I vote for XHTML Strict.
    ...
    So lets design our sites to look best in the newer browsers, but not to degrade too badly in Internet Explorer.
    And how do you do that, considering that Internet Explorer doesn't support XHTML in any way, shape or form? Are you advocating mirror pages in HTML that you serve to IE and other non-XHTML browsers?

    If you're serving your 'XHTML' as HTML, then you are not using XHTML at all. This seems to be what Ian Lloyd is advocating. Not only is it pointless, since you cannot use any real benefits of XHTML at all, but it can even be 'harmful' if you don't know what you're doing. There's a great risk that beginners write purported XHTML pages that will break if served as XHTML. I've seen many such pretend-XHTML pages.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  9. #9
    I meant that to happen silver trophybronze trophy Raffles's Avatar
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    I voted XHTML Strict 1.0 not because I use its extensibility but because I like the rigidity and, trivial as though it may seem, I feel uncomfortable doing <link> instead of <link/>. I like the idea of the empty self-closing tag.

    At the moment I serve XHTML to browsers that want it in their Accept headers and give those that don't the same served as text/html. I know this is bad. I think next time I make a website it'll be HTML 4.01 Strict.

    I feel web standards are important for the same reasons as above - if there aren't any, it's a huge mess and we'd go back to 90's browser detection to serve alternately coded pages for each browser.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    And how do you do that, considering that Internet Explorer doesn't support XHTML in any way, shape or form? Are you advocating mirror pages in HTML that you serve to IE and other non-XHTML browsers?
    That's exactly what I am advocating. Like I said, this is my opinion, and others are free to disagree. But I firmly believe that the large numbers of hobbyist designers in the same situation as myself should adopt similar tactics.

    Like I said, I'm a newbie hobbyist designer, with lots of web space and no "professional" need to support IE, other than if I choose to take the easy, painless route and design for the "lowest common denominator" and greater number of viewers. If we all do that, we don't move forward. I have nothing forcing me to design for IE first, so I choose to adhere to standards first, and IE second.

    I've started designing personal sites and SF fan sites. Almost everyone I know (at least personally) in these circles uses Firefox or other Mozilla browsers, or use Linux or Macs. A few use Opera. I'd like as many people as possible to view my sites, but should have no problem attracting the large numbers of my target audience who use browsers other than IE, which seems to be quite a bit higher than in the mainstream. My target audience is the prime concern for me. I really couldn't give a hoot what the rest of the world does, other than it makes things easier for the rest of us (which is where standards come in).

    I'll support IE users by providing more basic mirror pages with HTML 4.01 Strict DTDs and IE-specific stylesheets, but I'll make a point in letting them know that the "other" versions viewed with Firefox, etc look "a lot better" (evil, I know ), and give the the link to download Firefox. Opera, etc. The standards-compliant pages will be served as real XHTML 1.0, 1.1 (later 2.0) and with stylesheets unencumbered by IE hacks. Creating mirror pages is no big deal for me - just have templates for each version with the relevant DTDs and "served as text/HTML or XHTML/XML" content type, copy and paste the overall content from one to the other and add or remove the occasional "/" from the source code. All done as I design the original pages, and adding only a few minutes to the overall time taken.

    I know that a lot of people out there can't or won't take the trouble to do this. Many simply don't care (I consider this lot the worst of the bunch - apathy is a killer). It's not easy for professional web developers, or for those in commercial or work environments who are forced either to view pages with or to design for IE. They simply can't ignore it. But for the huge number of hobbyist designers (there must be millions of us), there really is no excuse, other than taking the easy way out for the sake of having more people able to view our pages. If we all stick together in ever-increasing numbers, and constantly advocate the use of proper standards compliant browsers (complete with download links), we will gradually help push the market share of Internet Explorer downwards towards a critical mass where support of web standards will really start moving forward under their own momentum.

    Don't think we can oust IE? I recall that a few years ago Netscape was the 800lb gorilla in the browser arena, and look what happened to them. If Microsoft's complacency and arrogance in not keeping IE up to speed infuriates enough people, who knows what might happen? Either they go Netscape's way, or improve IE so that it adheres to standards. Either way we win. But only if we stick to our guns. Remember the old "Best viewed with Internet Explorer at a resolution of 800x600" crap that we used to see on so many web pages? How about a reversal of this? "Best viewed with any proper standards-compliant web browser" (plus relevant links, of course).

    We have to take a stand somewhere, even if it means a little more effort on our part, and some pain and frustration for a while as we wait for the rest of the world to catch up. Otherwise we should just throw our hands in the air and give up, and let Microsoft bring proper web development and standards to a grinding halt. Since IE has become the dominant browser, MS has done nothing to make IE further or accomodate web standards or progress (quite the opposite, actually). If they don't get their act together, the browser-using public (and web designers/developers) should drop IE like a hot potato and move to one of the Mozilla-based browsers, Opera, or somthing else that's suitable. I don't know what IE's share of the browser market is now, but I think it's down a bit from the 90-95% that it was a few years ago. If it can be pushed down to 60% or even 50% we might just see the web landscape change drastically.

    If you're serving your 'XHTML' as HTML, then you are not using XHTML at all. This seems to be what Ian Lloyd is advocating. Not only is it pointless, since you cannot use any real benefits of XHTML at all, but it can even be 'harmful' if you don't know what you're doing. There's a great risk that beginners write purported XHTML pages that will break if served as XHTML. I've seen many such pretend-XHTML pages.
    Tommy, I've read your excellent and enlightening posts on this matter, and, believe it or not, I agree with almost everything you say. You raise points that a beginner like myself would probably never have thought of (and I'm glad you did raise them - ignorance is not bliss), and your technical arguments are flawless. If I was determined to reach the widest audience, and XHTML/standards be damned, I'd take your advice and stay with HTML Strict 4.0. But, luckily for me, I'm under no obligation to do so.

    So my main point still stands. We have to break out of the cycle. It just has to be done. We have to break the IE/Microsoft chains around our necks, even if it hurts like hell at first and we have to make some real sacrifices. And we will break stuff all over the web, at least to begin with. Real progress is never painless, but things will gradually get much better (just as Dan mentioned, about the tables vs CSS layout thing). Even if all of this means splitting the web into IE vs standards-compliant zones, I'd still advocate it. I'm sure many IE users will have second thoughts as they see the web pages designed by the "other lot" surge ahead and leave them in the dust. Nobody likes to be second-best.

    This has to happen. Otherwise real progress and standards-compliant web development is going nowhere fast, and we'll be stuck in the same old cycle, maybe for good, or until Microsoft "wins", whatever that means. I'm simply really, really sick and tired of all the old "but it won't work in Internet Explorer" excuses. Please lets all take the first real steps towards moving on.

    Phil

  11. #11
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raffles View Post
    I feel uncomfortable doing <link> instead of <link/>. I like the idea of the empty self-closing tag.
    But it doesn't make you feel uncomfortable to have to include the end tag for, e.g., </script>?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_Friel View Post
    That's exactly what I am advocating.
    Although I agree with you on principle, it's not going to work in the real world. It would be wonderful if we could stick to web standards and flip the bird at IE and the other dinosaurs, but as long as a vast majority of users insist on sticking to those dinosaurs, we can't.

    Making an XHTML version and an HTML version of every page is just too much work for most sites. The maintenance becomes a nightmare, unless you have a server-side system with XML storage and an XSLT transform, of course.

    Oh, it's fine for niche sites with a limited audience. But I work for the government. We aren't allowed to tell our citizens which browsers to use (and I think that's a good thing).
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  12. #12
    I meant that to happen silver trophybronze trophy Raffles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    But it doesn't make you feel uncomfortable to have to include the end tag for, e.g., </script>?
    Actually, it does. I do <script/> for the browsers that want XHTML and <script></script> for those that don't (IE dies with <script/>). Extra geek points.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard drhowarddrfine's Avatar
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    a few holdouts who say that web standards are pointless if the client doesn't care.
    It's those same people who complain they can't get their sites to work cross browser.
    why you think it's important/unimportant to use the W3C recommendations.
    Anyone who thinks the W3C shouldn't be followed is a raving, flaming, moronic idiot and that's the only positive thing I have to say about such a person.

    First, the W3C, essentially, created HTML and the World Wide Web.
    Second, ALL browser makers are members of the W3C.
    Third, who else would you follow? There is no other recommendation/standard. And if you think there is a Microsoft one then you are greatly mistaken. The MS "version" are only quirks and bugs but still they follow the W3C.

    So such a question is invalid and moot. There is nothing else.

  14. #14
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    is validating your site that important?

    I'm a newbie at all this.
    I was on both...

    http://validator.w3.org/

    and

    http://www.htmlhelp.com/tools/validator/

    ....and was using these validators to see if many prominent websites out there were validated, and it turns out that they aren't!

    www.cnn.com - not validated
    http://www.bbc.com/ and http://www.bbc.co.uk/ - not validated
    www.google.com - not validated
    www.yahoo.com - not validated
    www.ft.com - not validated
    www.amazon.com - not validated
    www.xe.com - not validated
    www.sitepoint.com - not validated

    If there are so many prominent and highly-ranked sites out there that are not validated at all, is it really that important? I'm thinking from a business standpoint, where you use your website to generate income (say from ad revenue or from traffice that sees your site and then contacts you to purchase your products/services).

    All these sites are making money, their sustaining their businesses, why is it a big deal?

    I'm a newbie, but I just like to think from a practical standpoint. Perhaps I don't see the full perspective.

    Anyone who can help me out to better understand I'd appreciate.


    Adam

  15. #15
    The Mind's I ® silver trophy Dark Tranquility's Avatar
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    I voted for HTML 4.01 Strict, I, sometimes, use XHTML though...
    Even if you use XHTML you're going to parse it like HTML, and then using XHTML looses its sense as it is not supported by IE and not parsed like XML...
    Well Still that the W3C seems to be supporting XHTML as a new standard for the web...
    As for the question: "do we need Standards?" I believe that yes we should have and respect the Web Standards, bad code is really nasty!
    In fact I believe that trying to force people to produce quality code was behind the idea of launching XHTML that is parsed like XML...

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard drhowarddrfine's Avatar
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    If there are so many prominent and highly-ranked sites out there that are not validated at all
    And there are a lot of prominent and highly ranked sites out there that validate. Like MSN.com for one.

    Validating is NOT a money making/business standpoint to take at all. Validating is a TECHNICAL standpoint. If your site does not validate then that means there are errors in the markup. If there are errors in the markup then you cannot reliably expect the code to work in all browsers and all situations!

    HTML browsers were expected to make the best of these errors when they encountered them but there is not always any guidance as to what they were to do with these errors. So you cannot count on all browser vendors to react to the same errors in the same way, especially in different situations.

    As we proceed into XHTML and XML, such invalid markup is not tolerated and will not display. So coders need to learn how to write valid, correct markup rather than rely on the browser to fix the errors for them because it will not and will only display an error page of some sort.

  17. #17
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    I personally couldn't care less what I use, or what all the code *** think, The site loads fine in IE and Firefox, which is all i need. Some people even ridiculously complain to me that the site looks cluttered and broken in text browsers, am I supposed to even give a crap about the fools who do use text browsers? - they are not my target audience.

    Worrying too much about doctypes and valid code is a d*** waste of time, and it's way too overrated in web design standards. It's like the new global warming and food diet commotion that has been going on in the last few years, way too mediated and overrated and I am seriously getting tired of it.

    The main other reason people complain about validation is that it slows down the load time of the website? WTH - 56K Dial Up ended 5 years ago! The amount of people still using slow internet today is rapidly decreasing, so we do not need to worry about an extra few milliseconds of page load time. Although a validated website is considered a well thought out and healthy website, an invalid one just has the same potential as any other validated website. Look at BBC for instance.

    The main thing in the end is the customer, the visitor. The people who want the content and the look - they're not all like some of the code **** around here, who get worked up about when they see a site with invalid coding. If the BBC was design in simple CSS and XHTML, it would look as boring and useless. People have to go out there and experiment with new design and graphics, and all the code obsessed may as well stay behind and use the same structure...all over again and again.

    Go on, join the the herd of sheep, you'll find yourself wasting your time and efforts. To finally answer your question, no, we do not, we do not need web standards, but we need to experiment and try new methods.

    My 2 cents.
    Last edited by DaveMaxwell; Apr 5, 2007 at 11:19. Reason: offensive language
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Evangelist AlienDev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emkay View Post
    I personally couldn't care less what I use, or what all the code **** think, The site loads fine in IE and Firefox, which is all i need. Some people even ridiculously complain to me that the site looks cluttered and broken in text browsers, am I supposed to even give a crap about the fools who do use text browsers? - they are not my target audience.
    And you call yourself a web designer.....
    Last edited by DaveMaxwell; Apr 5, 2007 at 11:21. Reason: quoted offensive language

  19. #19
    SitePoint Addict fattyjules's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emkay View Post
    I personally couldn't care less what I use, or what all the code **** think, The site loads fine in IE and Firefox, which is all i need. Some people even ridiculously complain to me that the site looks cluttered and broken in text browsers, am I supposed to even give a crap about the fools who do use text browsers? - they are not my target audience.
    ...
    The main other reason people complain about validation is that it slows down the load time of the website? WTH - 56K Dial Up ended 5 years ago! The amount of people still using slow internet today is rapidly decreasing, so we do not need to worry about an extra few milliseconds of page load time.
    ...
    Go on, join the the herd of sheep, you'll find yourself wasting your time and efforts. To finally answer your question, no, we do not, we do not need web standards, but we need to experiment and try new methods.
    It sounds like you've had frustrating experiences with making documents valid in the past. Calling potiential clients fools, your peers whores and dial-up users obsolete isn't going to help.

    Don't give up. There's plenty of help available here at SP Forums.
    Last edited by DaveMaxwell; Apr 5, 2007 at 11:20. Reason: quoted offensive language

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tyssen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emkay View Post
    If the BBC was design in simple CSS and XHTML, it would look as boring and useless as hell on earth.
    No it wouldn't. Just cos you may not know how to produce good looking CSS-only designs doesn't means others can't. FWIW I think the BBC site is fairly boring anyway, but that goes with its territory.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Evangelist AlienDev's Avatar
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    Can I just add:
    Emkay, its 3v1 against you, you might want to reconsider your web design thoughts right about... now.

  22. #22
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emkay View Post
    I personally couldn't care less what I use, or what all the code whores think, The site loads fine in IE and Firefox, which is all i need. Some people even ridiculously complain to me that the site looks cluttered and broken in text browsers, am I supposed to even give a crap about the fools who do use text browsers? - they are not my target audience.
    First off, I take offense to your calling me a code whore. Either you apologize and edit your post, or I'll press the "Report to Moderator" button. Simple as that. Second, you have to remember, not everyone uses Internet Explorer or FireFox. For example, I use Opera, but that doesn't even stop me from using K-Meleon, or even old Netscape from time to time.
    Quote Originally Posted by emkay View Post
    Worrying too much about doctypes and valid code is a damn waste of time, and it's way too overrated in web design standards. It's like the new global warming and food diet commotion that has been going on in the last few years, way too mediated and overrated and I am seriously getting tired of it.
    It may be a waste of time to you, but not to anyone who takes their work seriously. Having valid code helps ensure that the sites will work and display properly regardless of what user agent your visitors are using; while it may not look 100% pixel perfect, it will render well enough for the visitor to use the site and do what s/he needs to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by emkay View Post
    The main other reason people complain about validation is that it slows down the load time of the website? WTH - 56K Dial Up ended 5 years ago! The amount of people still using slow internet today is rapidly decreasing, so we do not need to worry about an extra few milliseconds of page load time. Although a validated website is considered a well thought out and healthy website, an invalid one just has the same potential as any other validated website. Look at BBC for instance.
    So you're saying I don't matter? Or other dialup users? Don't forget, not everyone has access to a broadband connection, nor can they all afford one. I don't just mean people in the US and Western Europe either. I mean GLOBALLY. What's more important to a cash-strapped family? Having a high-speed Internet connection, or a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs and clothes on their backs?
    Quote Originally Posted by emkay View Post
    The main thing in the end is the customer, the visitor. The people who want the content and the look - they're not all like some of the code whores around here, who get worked up about when they see a site with invalid coding. If the BBC was design in simple CSS and XHTML, it would look as boring and useless as hell on earth. People have to go out there and experiment with new design and graphics, and all the code obsessed may as well stay behind and use the same structure...all over again and again.
    That's the second time you called me a code whore. See my statement above. Furthermore, you do not have to have your sites look simple and boring when using HTML and CSS. They can be just as vibrant and rich as other sites; you just have to know what you're doing with it.
    Quote Originally Posted by emkay View Post
    Go on, join the the herd of sheep, you'll find yourself wasting your time and efforts. To finally answer your question, no, we do not, we do not need web standards, but we need to experiment and try new methods.

    My 2 cents.
    Of course I'll join the "herd of sheep". I'm a "shephard" afterall.

    And that's my

  23. #23
    Now available in Orange Tijmen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz View Post
    First off, .... a then a long post follows


    And I voted for XHTML Strict.
    Travel Photos on Flickr - Twitter

    “Never give up. Never surrender”

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    templates vs. doing markup yourself

    What do you guys say about those that use templates such as those provided by Apple's iWeb software (http://www.apple.com/ilife/iweb/), or SimpleMachines (http://www.simplemachines.org/) and vBulletin (http://www.vbulletin.com/)? If you use them you never really have to worry about markup, right?

    What are pros and cons of using these, instead of actually doing all the markup yourself?

    Thanks,


    Adam

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    SitePoint Evangelist AlienDev's Avatar
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    Very nicely said Dan!


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