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SharePoint 2010 and XHTML Validation

I’m writing this and another post about doing development on the SharePoint user interface and the overall user experiences to display some of my disappointment with issues I thought would’ve been resolved in this upcoming version.

Microsoft has said on record they are supporting browsers that are XHTML 1.0 compliant, and they haven’t said officially (at least where I can find and validated by others) that it will validate as XHTML 1.0. Regardless, we have a new default master page that uses both the strict XHTML 1.0 DOCTYPE as well as it uses the IE 8 X-UA-Compatible META tag that puts the rendering mode in the strictest rendering available in IE 8. By those two inclusions Microsoft is saying that not only are they coding a page against the XHTML 1.0 strict standard, but by using the META tag they are telling IE 8 that they “really know” what they’re doing. Here is the validation result from a default master page of a team site collection.

SharePoint 2010 Validation Failure

The Problem

The problem of the default master page is more than just an inability to validate. When using this particular DOCTYPE you are committing to not using deprecated elements and attributes and also that your HTML moves closer to XML by abstracting the presentation (CSS), structure (XHTML), and behavior (JavaScript).

There are elements used inside the default rendering of the master page that have been deprecated.

  • valign
  • align
  • width
  • border
  • font
  • color

Along with deprecated attributes and elements the rendering includes a bevy of inline JavaScript and CSS. I was hoping with all the emphasis on using jQuery in SharePoint recently that the principle of “unobtrusive JavaScript” would make its way into SharePoint. Unfortunately, it continues to uses attributes such as onlick and onload as well as tons of JavaScript inline. It continues to have no rhyme or reason why it comes out where it does.

Then you get stuff like this:

<p> </p>
<p> </p>
<p> </p>

And here’s another example. Notice that a HTML element comes after the HTML ends. (There are even spans in the head of the document for some reason.)


Inline styles were a big problem in 2007, and it doesn’t seem to be any better in 2010. They might as well have just used the center and font tags.

<p class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-5" style="text-align:left;font-size:10pt">
<img alt="People collaborating" src="/_layouts/images/homepageSamplePhoto.jpg" style="margin-top:5px;margin-right:5px;margin-bottom:5px;margin-left:5px">
2010 Core CSS
An excerpt of the 2010 core CSS file.

You would hope that when they do use an external stylesheet that it would be a well commented and laid out file. Unfortunately that is not the case. It still doesn’t have comments, similar code formatting, and it has odd “ReplaceColor” text which I assume changes depending on the SharePoint theme you have selected. We know that this CSS will also not validate against any CSS specification.

Instead of combining the two selectors that use the border: none; they continue from 2007 making them separate selectors which increases the size of the file and decreases the readability of it. This file needs to be clearly documented, formatted consistently, and use of best practices such as CSS shorthand to increase the utility for developers, gain validation, and make the file smaller as a result.

Are There Improvements?

It’s not all bad news. Certainly the inclusion of a DOCTYPE is a step in the right direction. I’m also surprised that the strict IE 8 META tag was used to force IE 8 standards mode. Certainly there are less tables, and class names are clearer then they were in 2007.

These are some positive changes however with such a monumental new version I was hoping that many of the aforementioned issues would not be an issue in 2010. Maybe in 2014…

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