For all the indispensible digital producers, developers, architects and everyone else who make the web happen.

For the late nights and the early mornings.

For the team players and arse-kickers. For the creatives, for the techies, for the bring-it-all-togethers.

For the go-live, for the can-do.

For the heroes.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A plea to Google

Whatever you do, don't look at the source!!!

(Cue for everybody to go and look at the source, obviously.)

It shouldn't be this way, but I get awfully worried about potential employers, employees, clients, partners etc. looking at the source of my blogs and coming to some dodgy conclusions.

Specifically, I'm worried that somebody somewhere will think that I can't even author basic HTML and have no regard for semantic, standards-compliant markup. (Which in truth is something I care passionately about).

Time to blame the tools

It's not my fault - the HTML rendered by Google Blogger is absolutely appalling!

Don't get me wrong, Google have done many great things for us, but the WYSIWYG interface for blogger creates shocking code. Especially if you're pasting in text from Word.

I know you can go straight into an HTML editor, but the problem is that all your good work gets undone, almost immediately, without your permission as soon as you switch it back to WYSIWYG (and sometimes even if you don't!)

And this is truly worst-of-breed stuff.

In an interesting discussion on the Web Standards Group on LinkedIn, I recently wrote:

"Standards in hand-coding have never been better. The problem is that so much content these days is created using in-browser WYSIWYG editors that suck horribly and generate appalling, unsemantic and often invalid HTML.

Not all CMSs are bad, but every CMS that fails to implement a good quality editor and parser contributes to this problem. Consequently, we're heading backwards.

Google's Blogger tool, for example, is used by millions. But it's horrible. The bloated, meaningless HTML it creates is like MS FrontPage from 1998. Even if you do it perfectly in HTML mode, any further changes in the WYSIWYG editor can reintroduce non-semantic markup.

Us experts know how to mark up semantically. What the industry needs is tools so that 'normal' folk can produce it without thinking about it."

Google are giving us the exact opposite though. Completely against their 'don't be evil' ethos.
 Even the rightly disparaged and discontinued Adobe Contribute (which I had the misfortune to have to use a few years back) had the facility for locking off hand-coded sections so that machines couldn't tinker with it.

But Google goes right ahead, taking out the semantic XHTML or HTML5 and replacing it with all manner of bloaty <span>s and <div>s, inline styles and empty tags that come about just because you have the temerity to delete a line break.

Thank God I only use this for my personal blogs, because I don't consider Blogger fit-for-purpose software for use in a professional context.

On the professional side, I've been using Sitecore for over a year now, and as CMSs go, it has it's plusses and minuses.

But what it does do is respect your markup - and that's a lesson I hope Google learn soon.

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