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IP FAQs: Checking Your Documents for Errors
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IP FAQs: Checking Your Documents for Errors

Introduction  Design & Style for Textual & Graphical Browsers  Weblint: An HTML Checker 

<A Name="introduction">Introduction

Ensuring that a document is correctly coded in HTML is one of the prime concerns of every webmaster. The valuable content that you and others have developed will all be for naught if users are unable to follow links, the formatting of documents is mixed-up or browsers are unable to correctly render a document.

Design & Style for Textual & Graphical Browsers

A good habit to cultivate is to carefully check every document you develop with both a textual browser such as Lynx and also a graphical browsers (such as MacWeb, Mosaic, Netscape, OmniWeb or Internet Explorer) to ensure that the coding you have written works correctly and renders properly with both types of browsers.

It is important that information be accessible to users of both text-based and graphic-based browsers. The CCN maintains a strong commitment to both categories of users and we ask our Information Providers to do the same. This can sometimes be quite a challenge! If you make use of heavily graphic-intensive devices such as USEMAPs or Frames please ensure that there are alternative text-based methods of getting to the information.

Also don't forget that all browsers, and particularly graphical ones, can have various aspects of their rendering user-defined. Users can customize background patterns and choose the fonts, sizes and styles that are mapped by HTML text formatting elements . Thus, your layout and design should take this into consideration. If you 'hard-code' formatting that works only with one browser in one configuration you risk having it appear garbled or poorly rendered with another browser, differently configured.

Weblint: An HTML Checker

A valuable tool to assist you in debugging your HTML code is Weblint, an HTML checker which we have installed as part of the file management options you have at your disposal in your private home directories.

The version of Weblint we are running is not completely current. It does not, for instance, recognize a number of tags used in graphical browsers. Tags such as <center>, <font> and all the tags associated with HTML tables will be interpreted as unknown elements by Weblint. Also Weblint will want you to have <link> elements within the <Head> of the document (as HTML specifications would have it) and not at the top of the document as our system installs them. Simply ignore these recommendations until such time as we install a newer version of Weblint.

Nonetheless many HTML coding problems will correctly be found by Weblint and it can be of great assistance to you in debugging your coding and eliminating the small typos that can be hard to spot when reading through a document by eye.

To use it, select a document in your home directory (or copy it there), choose F (for Full Menu) and then select HTML check and Weblint will display the results of its HTML checking, e.g.:

/ccn/home/51/aa051/test.html(2): outer tags should be <HTML> .. </HTML>.
/ccn/home/51/aa051/test.html(2): <LINK> can only appear in the HEAD element.
/ccn/home/51/aa051/test.html(12): unknown element <center>. /ccn/home/51/aa051/test.html(14): unknown element </center>.
/ccn/home/51/aa051/test.html(73): unknown element <font>.
/ccn/home/51/aa051/test.html(73): unknown element </font>.


[Hint: Remember that if you make changes to the document and then return to Weblint to check it again, you need to select ^R to Reload the page. Otherwise you will still see the previous set of errors & warnings.]

For further questions on the use of this resource, EMail

Christopher Majka


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