XML is your friend

I’ve been working a lot recently with data import and exports between systems.  Obviously different systems have a variety of ways they can export data, and some even have multiple ways of importing data, but none of them seem to have a standard type for the file data.  In recent weeks I have worked with:

Files where fields are delimited with a #
Files where fields are delimited with a ^
Files where fields are delimited with a , (typical CSV files)
Files where everything is nicely structured XML

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The importance of valid HTML

The need for standards compliant HTML is documented all over the internet with the primary reason of speed and cross browser compatibility.  There are, after all, reasons the standards have been created.  The idea behind them is that you can take the code which is fully standards compliant and run it in any browser and it will look the same.  Okay we all know that that’s not actually the case, and different browser engines render things slightly differently.  It’s one of the main reasons why the web development community hates Internet Explorer; it seems to have its own way of doing things which is different to everyone else.

Bitching about IE aside, I came across another reason to have standards compliant code this week, and a problem I have seen previously, forgotten about and had to research again, so I am here to share the wisdom I have recently rediscovered, and also have it somewhere I can easily find it again.

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Are error messages evil?

A colleague of mine posted a question to us developers for our input.  They had read an article on LinkedIn which stated the following, and asked for our thoughts:

Error messages punish people for not behaving like machines. It is time we let people behave like people. When a problem arises, we should call it machine error, not human error: the machine was designed wrong, demanding that we conform to its peculiar requirements. It is time to design and build machines that conform to our requirements. Stop confronting us: Collaborate with us.

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