For those of you outside the web intelligensia, a list item looks like this in your browser:
- This is a list item!
To make a bit of text into a list item, someone writing HTML starts an “unordered list” with <UL>, and then sticks <LI> in front of every item on the list. For example, to produce this list:
- Pumpkin Pie
…I would use the following HTML:
<UL> <LI>Apples <LI>Peaches <LI>Pumpkin Pie </ul>
Now the issue at hand here — the one that bothered Daniel — is that proper HTML requires adding a closing </LI> at the end of every list item as well. The thing is that almost any browser in the world will still render the list properly if you leave this out, and it’s been that way since the beginning of time. So if you don’t have to do it, why bother?
Daniel’s argument would be that leaving off the closing </LI> means that the resulting HTML won’t be following standards, and what’s more, that there are some instances when using cascading style sheets where the closing </LI> is required and, if it’s missing, bad things will result.
My reply to Daniel’s accusations of HTML standards flouting was to say that as long as my content was readable in most browsers, most of the time, I was happy.
This isn’t strictly true, of course — I care about web standards as much as the next guy. But it’s at least partially true. And I certainly don’t attend the same standards church as Daniel does.
Now I don’t mean this to be a “standards vs. no standards” argument — I can happily argue for or against either side of that issue.
What intrigues me is why this matters so much to Daniel, and so little to me. We both derive our income almost entirely from things that happen on the web, and yet something that Daniel cares passionately about means relatively little to me.
The easy answer here would be that Daniel’s uptight and I’m footloose. Or that Daniel’s responsible and I’m negligent. Neither are very satisfying.
I think some of the answer might lie in the same issues I discussed in my Designers who don’t program and programmers who don’t design essay on the Zap Your PRAM Weblog: Daniel is a designer. Period. I am a programmer who happens to design.
In my world, the centre of the web is the server. If it’s important, and it involves the web, it’s happening behind the scenes, and is probably written in Perl or PHP. I tend to treat the browser as simply the canvas upon which the art — which is conjured on the server — is displayed.
I suspect that in Daniel’s world, the centre of the web is the browser, not the server. And that Daniel would see the “art happening” in the browser, not on the server.
And so I imagine that Daniel takes the browser more seriously than I do simply because we’re standing in different positions in the web universe; my planets revolve around the server, Daniel’s around the browser.
Or maybe I’m just negligent. Or footloose.
I welcome comments.