Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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Doing good deeds by stealth

A FOAFOAF (a friend of an online acquaintance of timato, to be precise) puts the occasional slab of web work my way. Usually at the most inconvenient times and with daft deadlines, but gift horse, mouth etc. Currently I'm making some updates to, initially designed and set up by a third party.

Boy oh boy, but tangling with someone else's code is so much harder than starting from scratch. Especially code that was generated by a WYSIWYG editor: chock-full of extremely complicated layout tables, mysterious empty divs and font styles that randomly turn themselves on and off, and all fiendishly difficult to deal with in BBEdit Lite.

Making it that bit harder is the irresistible urge to fiddle with things that are not in my remit but are just crying out to be fixed. (No, not the punctuation, though I might have inserted the odd semicolon or two.)

I know I'm not exactly the patron saint of accessible web pages, but I am trying; at least I understand what the problem is, why it's a problem and some ways it can be made better.

But am I capable of explaining to Merton Council that as well as making the wording and grammar changes they've asked for, I have spent several hours making changes that they can't actually see but which will nevertheless benefit disabled users or those using text-only browsers?

Adding alt="Printer-friendly version" to the little printer icon, changing span class="SubHeading" to the identical in appearance and structurally superior h2 class="SubHeading" and turning a bulleted list faked using tables and images into a proper, semantic ul - keeping the bullet images into the bargain. Little, invisible changes which really help the user and take bloody hours.

I should be doing this sort of thing out of sheer love for my differently-able fellow-creatures, but frankly it'd better net me enough for an iPod mini. (I've checked the size of my iTunes folder and I have 3.10 gigabytes of chunes, which should fit nicely.)

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