Even though I always strive for complete validation these days, I often wonder if it's a waste of time. If the code runs and it looks the same in all browsers (I use to verify) then do I need to take it any further or am I just being overly anal?

What level do you hold your code to when you create it for:

a) yourself b) your clients

P.S. Jeff and company, why doesn't stack overflow validate? :)

EDIT: Some good insights, I think that since I've been so valid-obsessed for so long I program knowing what will cause problems and what won't so I'm in a better position than people who create a site first and then "go back and fix the validation problems"

I think I may post another question on stack overflow; "Do you validate as you go or do you finish and then go back and validate?" as that seems to be where this question is going

+5  A: 

a) Must look the same

b) As standards-compliant as possible, but not so anal that it blocks finishing work

In a situation where you have perpetual access to the code, I don't think standards-compliance is all that important, since you can always make changes to the code if something breaks. If you don't have perpetual access (ie, you sign off on the code and it becomes someone else's responsibility), it's probably best to be as standards-compliant as possible to minimize maintenance headaches later... even if you never have to deal with the code again, your reputation persists and can be transmitted to other potential clients, and many teams like to blame the previous developer(s) for problems that come up.


I think validation is a good litmus test of whether you've done things properly, so if there are only a few minor problems, why not fix them and ensure your site will at least be understood correctly by browsers in the future (even if they do render things differently for other reasons)?

OTOH, for most projects, validation seems like a huge headache and if you can get things working across browsers, it's not worth spending an extra day/week+ on just validation.

+2  A: 

I think this is an area in which you should strive to use the Robustness principle as far as is practical (which is good advice for any area of coding). Just because something works today doesn't mean it will work tomorrow: if you're relying on a particular HTML/CSS hack or even if you've just been a little lax in emitting strictly valid code, the next iteration of browsers could well break. Doing it once the right way minimises this problem (though does not entirely mitigate it).

There is a certain element of pragmatism to take here, though. I'd certainly do all I could for a client's site to be valid, but I would be willing to take more risks in my own space.

+2  A: 

I think it's only "tech" guys that really care for "100% standard compliance". My usual page consumers (= users) don't care if there's no alt-attribute for a "menu border picture element".

I usually just make sure that I don't see any obvious errors (all tags closed, all lower case, attributes in quotes, ...), but if it looks good on IE and FF, that's all I care for. I don't really care if I use a non-standard attribute in any HTML tag, so that the page doesn't validate against an DTD - as long as I get the visual results that I intended to get.

+1  A: 

I know this isn't answering your whole question, but it is worth considering that by using completely valid html you can be sure that your website should work properly in future web browsers that haven't been released yet.

+1  A: 

My approach tends to be to ensure I can completely validate on all pages, however I still send the page as text/html instead of application/xhtml+xml so there are no ugly XML errors in the event I have missed something.

Andrew G. Johnson
+1  A: 

For me, I feel like I've done a good job if my code validates. Seeing the green check box on the w3c pages just makes me slightly giddy. As for group b, They usually only care that it looks and works the same across browsers. They only place I've found that this is not true is the government sector. They require complete validation not only with the w3c but also passing ADA tests (basically how does it sound with a screen reader).

p.s. when I say government sector, I mean specifically the state of California and a few counties inside it. I have had no ther experience with other government groups besides them.


Validation is important. Thanks for nice post sharing with us.

Arvind Chayal