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Perhaps what he meant was that in order to get your page to display the way you want it, this would result in about 20 validation errors because of using hacks or something.
A programmer told me...
The programmer is wrong. Whatever you are doing, it can probably be done in a way that will pass the test [validator.w3.org].
Strict W3C validation is overrated... sometimes you want to put a <form> inside a <p>, and I say, go ahead. It will render fine in every browser. Some rules are more flexible than others; I will tolerate some invalid block-level stuff, but I hate seeing improperly nested tags
Then try and get it completely Bobby compatible <jesus>
I also think the focus on having a site completely validated to strict standards is completely over rated... the point of a site is to sell .. your product, your content, your idea etc .. to your target audience .. that is the most important thing, to have them engaged and eager to return...
Not saying lovely code is not nice.. Just, no need to panic if it's not...
e.g. under XMTL strict there is no target attribute.
e.g. <NOSCRIPT> is not permitted in the <HEAD>
e.g. frame borders of zero width are not permitted (but the W3C validator passes them!).
All of these are utterly ludicrous, and there are probably many more examples.
Validation failure resulting from stupid standards is very different to validation failure resulting from bad markup.
E.g) <td><a href='...'><b>This is </b> a link</td>
Here, I have opened the <a> tag to create a link. But where should the browser close the link?
1) It could close it after the </b>, assuming that the boldness indicates where a link should be.
2) It could close it just before the </td>, assuming that the table cell is the end of the link.
3) It could continue the link until an </a> is found, assuming that the writer wanted the link to cover various table cells.
None of the above would be wrong for a browser. The code is wrong and the browser can now make it's own decision with what to do with the code.
There are other 'errors' which some programs will display which technically are not errors or are being very picky:
a) <span class='bold'></span>
b) <a href='x.cgi?a=1&b=2'>
In a, the span is empty and therefore pointless and redundant, but is not really an error.
In b, any browser should see the link as above, but the W3C would say that the '&' should be written out as an entity: '&'. This is probably not needed & would be ok in almost every circumstance.
Usually these are called 'Errors' and 'Warnings'. If your page has 'Errors' - your programmer should be adjusting the code. If it has warnings, then the HTML is probably OK, just not quite perfect, but acceptable.