One step closer to a blog HTML standard

Drupal LogoAs a long time advocate for a blog HTML standard, it is exciting to see that Drupal has adopted support for the Six Apart HTML standard that I work really hard to get as much of Six Apart to adopt as I could. Their adoption of the standard is a huge endorsement of its value (read the comments and you will see more kudos).

Movable Type is a venerable blogging/web publishing tool that's been around since the early days of blogging. It has a lot of downsides, but one real strength is an active community of CSS designers cranking out new layout styles for it. Since Movable Type tends to have a very structured HTML output, and most people stick to skinning that with CSS, I always thought it should be relatively easy to make a Drupal theme that outputs the right MT-compatible HTML to use those styles.

Now, let's consider the following:

Furthermore, Project Athena, the next major version of Movable Type, is well under way and a core component of that release will be revisions to the HTML standard that we helped pioneer. We are doing this to help improve upon the HTML coding convention to make it more platform agnostic and easier to work with.

So, given that we see ways to improve the standard, as does Jeff, maybe this calls for us to organize a little bit outside the context of our respective platforms, companies and biases to come up with an HTML coding convention that we all have provided input on and agree upon?

Then, maybe we can focus our communities on building resources around the standard that we all can leverage to improve documentation, design capabilities, style discovery, browsing and selection, and so on and so forth.

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8 Comments

Greetings!

Thanks for noticing the work that went into it. I'm about to roll out a cleaner version of the template that cleans up some of the tag-soup, and responds better to dependencies in some of the more elaborate styles. (A few make assumptions about the presence or absence of certain content chunks, etc.)

I think there's a huge value in this kind of work. At present, though, the standard is definitely very MT-oriented, wrapping MT's standard content regions in some standardized divs without consideration for more advanced features. That's not a bad thing per se, but it means that quite a few standard features in systems like Drupal and Wordpress have to be tossed out when mapping content to the standard. I'm not sure what the best solution is to that -- perhaps future versions of the standard might include additional content regions like footer, or bio-information? I'm not sure.

Designing a theme in Drupal is a lot like designing a set of MT template files from scratch; maybe the answer is that sacrifices must be made if one wants to drop in a css based style with no modifications. MT users who set up custom templates face the same problems.

Jeff: Could you elaborate on what you mean by "quite a few standard features" needing to be dropped? You mention a footer which bother me a bit about the 6A standard. I've successfully implemented footers in my templates based on the standard using the "gamma" div ID. I'm wondering if there are other solutions that could be talked through and clarified.

Hey, Timothy.

I want to emphasize that the value of the standard REALLY is obvious. The trickiest part, when using a number of highly-polished styles, is that a lot of information is currently captured only in implied positioning of certain divs.

For example: a huge number of styles assume that module-search is the first element in a sidebar, and module-powered is the last. Auto-adding 'first' and 'last' classes when the HTML is generated would be a pretty simple solution, I think.

The lack of a footer section is another piece, as you noted. There are also certain concepts that don't map terribly well: Drupal generally writes out a 'page title' header on each page. On some pages that's the title of a given blog post, on others it's the title of the current section, on administrative pages (since Drupal generates its admin pages in the same UI) it's the function the user is looking at. In these templates, it differs from page to page: p.navigation, h3.entry-title, etc all serve that purpose in different contexts. I'm not sure if it makes sense to change that, but it is something that made converting the template trickier.

Its not the most promising standard, though: * Only limited to blogs (there is more then blogs to teh intarweb you know). * Its far from semantic. And SEO is about semantics too, it's not just purists toy. * I does not scale. Limited to blogs, hardly able to expand. And in a time when the X in XML stands for eXtendible, a non-extendible standard is only limiting.

Why not look at the excellent proposal by Erik Meyer and Andy Clarke?

Bèr: Only limited to blogs

How is it a failing for a blog HTML standard to only be particularly applicable to blogs? Or are you getting the impression somewhere that this is being sold as appropriate for building say, Amazon.com? If so, please provide a citation.

As this is a suggestion for a blog standard, I think it's reasonable that it limits itself to blogs only. But I believe one should strive to make it standards complient, semantic and SEO friendly [add other 2005 buzzwords here].

Erik Meyer and Andy Clarke's suggestion is very interesting (and from 2004?). But I'm not sure such a standard would benefit all systems and users, it may cause themes to be too limited in expense for(sp?) being highly available (for many systems). Hope you understand my english-is-not-my-first-language thinking :) I like variety, not uniformity. For a CMS theme standard to appeal to me, it need to have as few limitations as possible.

Ximo - you are absolutely correct. An important point to realize is that conformance to this standard, as with all standards is optional. There are many designs for which this standard will be insufficient, and designers wishing to craft a truly unique look for their blog, will undoubtedly stray from this HTML/CSS structure.

And that is OK and is to be expected. Conformance simply allows platforms to offer a wider variety of themes for their users right out of the box.

The blog html code not only to meet similar to the "W3C" of such a standard, the same time, we should seo aspects of optimization and improvement.

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  • The blog html code not only to meet similar to the "W3C" of such a standard, the same time, we should seo aspects of optimization and improvement. ...

  • Ximo - you are absolutely correct. An important point to realize is that conformance to this standard, as with all standards is optional. There are many designs for which this standard will be insufficient, and designers...

  • As this is a suggestion for a blog standard, I think it's reasonable that it limits itself to blogs only. But I believe one should strive to make it standards complient, semantic and SEO friendly [add other 2005 buzzword...

  • Bèr: Only limited to blogs How is it a failing for a blog HTML standard to only be particularly applicable to blogs? Or are you getting the impression somewhere that this is being sold as appropriate for building say, A...

  • Its not the most promising standard, though: * Only limited to blogs (there is more then blogs to teh intarweb you know). * Its far from semantic. And SEO is about semantics too, it's not just purists toy. * I does not ...

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