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Q: Validating your HTML
by Mike Slocombe

Q: I have started using FrontPage to create my Web site, and although the results look pretty good to me. Iím getting emails from people telling me there are mistakes on my page. It looks fine on my monitor, so how can I fix it?
Haydn Boyce

A: Just because something displays OK on your screen, it doesn't mean that others will see the same thing. Graphic editors like FrontPage can speed up the process of Web authoring, but the more you fiddle with your pages, there more chance there is that dodgy code may creep in.

Therefore, itís important to make sure that there are no glaring blunders in your HTML - so validate every page on your site!

Many editors like Homesite come with built in nifty tools for checking your pages, but itís often good practice to run your pages through a third party validator, just to make sure. Remember: just missing out or messing up one teensy-weensy piece of code can result in the whole page going bananas!.

One of my favourite utilities is HTML validatoR, which integrates tightly with Homesite and reports on any syntax errors in your code, offering handy tips on how to remedy the problem.

Although itís technically not a fully fledged validator, it's proved to be a real life saver for many authors, particularly when trying to work out why a complex page isnít displaying properly.

A more thorough validator can be downloaded from arealvalidator.com, but for the strictest validation, you can use the online tools at validator.w3.org/ or htmlhelp.org/tools/validator/. Just type in your URL and the program will analyse your page for errors and generate a report.

One note of caution: when you first put your hard work through a validator you might feel like giving up as a seemingly endless list of errors are thrown back at you.

Donít despair, as many mainstream sites also fail miserably when it comes to strict validation. Although you should always aim to get your code as perfect as possible, there are a few warnings that can be safely ignored, although without a working knowledge of HTML you wonít know which ones. Another good reason to learn HTML!

Check out www.w3.org/Markup/ and http://tips-tricks.com/begin.html, for an easy HTML guide for beginners.

Jan 2002




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