[pmwiki-users] Skin authors : Many PmWiki skins fail to validate

Patrick R. Michaud pmichaud at pobox.com
Wed Apr 8 00:36:50 CDT 2009

On Tue, Apr 07, 2009 at 03:19:55AM +0200, Petko Yotov wrote:
> I want PmWiki to make good impression on newcomers, especially on advanced 
> users, professionals, webmasters and designers, and the valid HTML and CSS 
> are important (to me and to them).
> So, at least at PmWiki.org, documentation, cookbook and skins, I'd like to 
> only have pages that validate.
> I'll be happy to help authors fix their recipes if they are unable or 
> unwilling to do it, or disable on pmwiki.org those demos that fail to 
> validate.

I think this is an area where I'll have to disagree somewhat.
(In no way should the following be taken as a rebuke towards 
Petko's work here -- it's just a place where we're still 
harmonizing our ideas about PmWiki and pmwiki.org.)

While I consider validation to be useful and important, it's
never been a "make or break" issue for me.  For my sites, if I 
can spend a modest amount of effort to make a page validate, 
I'll definitely do it, but if trying to get a page to validate 
makes things significantly more difficult, then I'll sometimes 
choose to live with the invalid sections.

As such, the core PmWiki software tries as hard as it can to
not be a source of validation errors, but both core PmWiki and
pmwiki.org make no official stance as to whether site admins,
skin authors, or recipe authors must produce valid XHTML.
(Similarly, PmWiki doesn't take a philosophical stance about 
using tables for layout control instead of CSS.)

PmWiki's goal is to allow, and perhaps gently encourage,
proper XHTML output without forcing people to be enslaved by it.
Indeed, part of the reason that PmWiki's default skin is XHTML 
Transitional instead of XHTML Strict is because I continue to 
find that XHTML Strict imposes restrictions and difficulties 
that I personaly wouldn't want to deal with and that make
it harder for non-experts to understand how skins are made.

And yes, it's possible for certain page markup sequences to 
cause PmWiki to produce output that won't validate; for example,
misnested tags for emphasized/strong/etc. text.  In those
rare cases I've generally decided that it's better to say
"don't use markups that way" than to greatly increase PmWiki's
complexity to prevent it from happening at all.

In summary:  It's okay with me if there are skins or recipes
enabled on pmwiki.org that don't pass XHTML validation.  This is
an area where I'd prefer to "let each potential buyer (admin) 
decide" if validation is important to their purposes, rather than
taking a stance that pmwiki.org only promotes or supports skins 
and recipes that validate.  (Skins and recipes that might pose
performance or security risks are another matter.)

I'm also fine with adding links to make it easy for
"buyers" to determine that a given skin validates.  If we
do that, we should probably have the cheks performed against
a standard sample page where the markup is known to not be a 
source of validation errors, as opposed to whatever random 
markup someone may have added to a page.

Hope this clears up my position on recipes and skins on
pmwiki.org.  I'm always in favor of making things validate
where we can do so, but I don't reject something solely 
on the basis that it doesn't validate.


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