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Don Watkins

Validate your HTML

By Don Watkins



I've never been a good programmer, in ANY language, and HTML isn't an exception and I've been doing this for a while. I didn't really want to learn much about HTML, I mostly just wanted to play with software and hardware and if I found something interesting I'd cobble some words together and put it online.

Putting it online was the least fun part so I levered some templates (I won't embarrass myself by admitting how) and for better or worse they became my standard.

Which wasn't the end of the world, it's pretty simple stuff, nothing fancy for sure and every once in a while I'd run random web pages through the current versions of IE and Netscape (things were much more simple back in the old days) and make sure that it didn't blow anything up.

How the world has changed. Firstly there is more than one "standard" for HTML as the W3C continually moves the web ahead with new standards. Secondly there are more than a handful of browsers these days and then multiple versions of those browsers some of which handle web sites differently than others.

What's someone to do who just wants to simply put their words out there get it indexed and hopefully have some people read it and take away something from it?

And without spending the rest of their life learning HTML? Don't think that if you use some sort of HTML WYSIWYG code generator many of them are notorious for creating really BAD web site code. They've gotten better but they're not perfect by any means. Even some of the newer ones I've tried with built in validation tools fall short of the mark.

Of course validating your web pages won't ensure that your web page will be viewable in all browsers but it will give you a great head start that your site is viewable regardless of the browser.

There are any number of ways to validate your code. The aforementioned W3C has an online validator and there's no question about it, it is a great tool and one that I've tried to use in the past. I say try to use because frankly the output is mostly way over my head. Let me belabor the obvious; I'm not a good coder and I don't have a desire to know all the details of HTML even if I was capable; I'd rather spend my time creating content (aka playing with fun stuff). Fortunately, CSE HTML Validator also has an online validator that is easier to use and produces output that is easier to understand.

That leads me to HTML Validator. Finally a HTML validation tool that creates output that I can (mostly) understand. It validates not only HTML, XHTML and CSS but it also includes a PHP, Java Script, link, accessibility and SEO checker as well as an integrated editor.

It's as easy to use as just about anything, either load a local file or enter the URL to an online file and mash the F6 (validate) key or select it from a menu:

                                     Click on image to enlarge

The above screenshot is for the HTML Validator web site. No way am I going to show you the sins I've committed on PCNet, it's ugly.

Using CSE HTML Validator is way cool. If you have any problems they are highlighted in the results window as well as being highlighted in the editor windows. Clicking on an entry in the results window takes you directly to the offending code in the editor. In addition the "message window" on the bottom right gives you clear and detailed information on what the issue is and how to address it. It doesn't fix it for you but it does everything but and allows you to fix up the problem without becoming a full time HTML genius.

I have some HTML fix up work ahead of me that I've been putting off literally for years and HTML Validator has given me the tool that will allow me to tackle it without spending the rest of my life becoming totally fluent in HTML.

CSE HTML Validator comes in two versions, a standard and a professional and you'll find a comparison chart here. The local versions of the programs will set you back $69 and $129 respectively. Like any good product the publisher has enough confidence in it to all you to try it before you buy it and a trial download is available.

Or if you want to run it online just fill out this form:

NEW! Check your document online with CSE HTML Validator Lite. Add this to your site.

Now how cool is that?

So regardless of your skill level if you have pages online and care about people reading them make sure that they're in a form that any visitors can view.

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