Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Web Modernization: Updating Personal Website

With my current job as a technology analyst I spend a lot of time evaluating new technologies and following the latest standards of the web.

With the 2010 court case that demanded Government of Canada websites become accessible, many in the tech analysis fields going back to basics.

My approach to learning about technology and standards is usually to implement it. Over the last number of years I have managed the websites of personal projects of mine including sites for Computers for Communities and Freeheelers United. These two sites use the content management systems (CMS) Drupal and Joomla respectively. These CMS's tend to take care of a lot of the backend HTML coding and therefore I have grown to trust the machine.

My personal website however, is just a collection of HTML pages with CSS styling. When I first started my website a number of years ago I did not use, nor did I likely know about CSS. The last time I refreshed my HTML skills I upgraded my site to HTML version 4 and started using CSS.

Lately in my job we have been discussing various approaches to web architecture, web interoperability and web accessibility. Also, websites for governments are becoming more complex with feeds, audio, video, blogs and social tools.

This new perspective of the web means that you can shoe-horn old standards to fit the new situation or update the standards you are using. When we look at the basics of the web we are now talking about HTML version 5, CSS version 3 as well as JavaScript.

So to re-aquaint myself with the basics of the web as they stand today I have undertaken an overhaul of my personal website.

This means updating my personal website. My goals right now are:

  • Use a text editor to avoid erroneous markup from editors
  • Migrate from HTML 4 to 5
  • Remove remaining styling from HTML
  • Ensure CSS conforms to version 3
  • Strive for WCAG 2.0 AA standard
  • Learn and implement JavaScript from scratch
In order to find some guidance in implementing these standards I have been exploring many resources. To date I can confirm that there are many differing opinions on implementing HTML5.

The two schools of thougt I have come across include:
  • Strict HTML 5 that will pass validation
  • Loose HTML 5 that is easier to understand with slimmed down markup but still interpreted by browsers
  • Some are HTML centric
  • Others are XHTML centric
My solution is to find sources that:
  • value structured markup, 
  • will validate against the standards
  • accomodates cross browser implementation
  • separate content (HTML) from style (CSS) from logic (JavaScript)

I will continue to update my progress through my blog and will keep my readers posted on my progress. I will also announce any new site launches that demonstrate implementing my above stated goals.


The content of this post does not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or priorities of the authors employer as is written from a personal perspective.