Negative effects of crap code as a driver for web standards

D. Keith Robinson over at Asterisk has a great story on how non standard code hurts the bottom line and I think he's right to move the cursor from why web standards are good for business to why using crap code is more and more a terrible idea.

I particularly liked this bit:

It is an absolute mess. There are improperly nested tables, deprecated tags (font tags, small tags) inline styles, the works. You name it and it’s probably in there. This makes it very, very hard to customize, which is crazy because that’s what it was built for!

CSS anyone?

I’d spend hours just trying to sort through it all and then, when I feel like I’ve got enough of a handle to make a change, invariably I break something. It’s almost like they people who coded it wanted it to break.

I liked it because I've been through this myself, big time. To the point that I made the decision to scrap an entire section of my biggest corporate site during the recent rebranding of my company, because not only the code was horrible but to add insult to injury it was embedded into a complex mix of XSLT and JSP templates. Looking at ugly HTML code made of nested tables is not fun but when it's even more obfuscated into two extra layers of utterly ugly looking languages, it's more than I can take. I did not have the time to fix this mess and knowing that 95% of this stupid code was useless and an impediment to change, despite the early and repeated warnings I gave to its developers, made me quite angry but glad that I scrapped them for good.

We're still clearly in a transition phase, where more and more companies will join the bandwagon, but it's interesting to see the raise of the negative effects of sticking with bad habits vs. the benefits of adopting new rules as a driver for the adoption of web standards. Most companies never change direction until they hit the wall, as do many politicians who lack vision. It seems like a common trait of human nature.

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