Developers! We Need Valid Code! Pretty Please?

If there’s one thing that’s in my Top 10 Pet Peeves (more like in the Top 3) it’s invalid code in themes, templates and plug-ins for CMS’s and blogging scripts.  This issue is not solely related to WordPress, I’ve had the same thing happen in every single CMS I’ve ever used. A good majority of the designers (me included) who use these pre-made products not only try very hard to have all their pages validate, but in cases like designing for the visually impaired and cross-browser compatibility it’s even more important. We can’t possibly charge a client to fix these issues, it’s not their fault. We must do this on our own time, which can be extensive.

It’s not just the theme that must validate, but the plug-ins as well. Users can start with a perfectly coded theme or template that validates to a “T” and start adding plug-ins and add-ons and suddenly on down the line, the code no-longer validates. Granted, the user has the option to use another theme or plug-in, but what if we’re so far into a project that it’s to late to start over? We can select a different plug-in, but what if the functionality your template or plug-in offers, isn’t available in others? Oh yeah, I suppose I could code my own IF I know how to do that. If I don’t, then I suppose I could pay someone else to do it. But doesn’t that defeat the purpose of getting the original developer’s plug-in or theme used and their name made popular?

I realize that thousands of these absolutely gorgeous themes are free and don’t get me wrong, designer’s like myself really do appreciate all the time and work that goes into making them. People who don’t do what we do don’t have the first clue what it takes to do what you do. However, if those that made the templates and plug-ins would just take a few moments to validate their own code, those of us using them wouldn’t have to spend hours upon hours digging through pages upon pages of files to try to find where the problem is and then attempt to fix what should have been done right in the first place. You know your product better than we do, doesn’t it make sense for the developer to make it right? If we try to fix it and screw it up, then what happens? You got it, some people are going to go screaming to the forums and tell the world how bad your product is. They’re not going to know or if they do know, they won’t admit that they screwed it up. It’s much easier to blame the maker. Now that will get your name out there, but for all the wrong reasons.

If every theme and plug-in maker

… would validate their own code, I my thought is that eventually this problem would cease to exist! What a great day that would be! I know when you get thousands of contributors to one CMS or blog script and you put them altogether to make a whole, this seems like a total impossibility. But how could it miss? If all the pieces of the puzzle were cut from the same mold (valid code!) the entire puzzle would eventually have to validate!

The biggest reason invalid code (translation: sloppy coding) doesn’t make any sense to me at all is that if you’re going to go through all the work to design such beautiful themes and nifty add-ons for others to use, why not take pride enough in your work to see that it validates (at the very least) in the most popular browsers? If you’re good enough at what you do to be able to pull off designing templates or add-ons for other people’s use, you definitely have the knowledge and talent to do so and that makes you a helluva site better than me, because I can’t do it! It’s even a bit more aggravating when the theme is a paid theme or add-on that doesn’t validate.

Ok, I’ve officially vented my frustrations on this.

I’m really not an ungrateful snot. Honest, I wouldn’t kid about that. So, on a more positive note, I’d like to take this opportunity to graciously thank all of you who work soooooooo hard to provide others with beautiful and wonderful things to develop web sites with!  There are probably many of you who never get properly recognized for the work you do and you definitely deserve the recognition.

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