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Refactoring HTML: Improving the Design of Existing Web Applications

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Refactoring HTML: Improving the Design of Existing Web Applications


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  • Copyright 2008
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-50363-5
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-50363-3

Like any other software system, Web sites gradually accumulate “cruft” over time. They slow down. Links break. Security and compatibility problems mysteriously appear. New features don’t integrate seamlessly. Things just don’t work as well. In an ideal world, you’d rebuild from scratch. But you can’t: there’s no time or money for that. Fortunately, there’s a solution: You can refactor your Web code using easy, proven techniques, tools, and recipes adapted from the world of software development.

In Refactoring HTML, Elliotte Rusty Harold explains how to use refactoring to improve virtually any Web site or application. Writing for programmers and non-programmers alike, Harold shows how to refactor for better reliability, performance, usability, security, accessibility, compatibility, and even search engine placement. Step by step, he shows how to migrate obsolete code to today’s stable Web standards, including XHTML, CSS, and REST—and eliminate chronic problems like presentation-based markup, stateful applications, and “tag soup.”

The book’s extensive catalog of detailed refactorings and practical “recipes for success” are organized to help you find specific solutions fast, and get maximum benefit for minimum effort. Using this book, you can quickly improve site performance now—and make your site far easier to enhance, maintain, and scale for years to come.

Topics covered include

•    Recognizing the “smells” of Web code that should be refactored
•    Transforming old HTML into well-formed, valid XHTML, one step at a time
•    Modernizing existing layouts with CSS
•    Updating old Web applications: replacing POST with GET, replacing old contact forms, and refactoring JavaScript
•    Systematically refactoring content and links
•    Restructuring sites without changing the URLs your users rely upon

This book will be an indispensable resource for Web designers, developers, project managers, and anyone who maintains or updates existing sites. It will be especially helpful to Web professionals who learned HTML years ago, and want to refresh their knowledge with today’s standards-compliant best practices.
This book will be an indispensable resource for Web designers, developers, project managers, and anyone who maintains or updates existing sites. It will be especially helpful to Web professionals who learned HTML years ago, and want to refresh their knowledge with today’s standards-compliant best practices.

Sample Content

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How to Assure a Well-Formed Website

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Martin Fowler xvii
Foreword by Bob DuCharme xix
About the Author xxi

Chapter 1 Refactoring 1
Why Refactor 3
When to Refactor 11
What to Refactor To 13
Objections to Refactoring 23
Chapter 2 Tools 25
Backups, Staging Servers, and Source Code Control 25
Validators 27
Testing 34
Regular Expressions  48 
Tidy  54 
TagSoup  60 
XSLT  62 

Chapter 3 Well-Formedness  65 
What Is Well-Formedness?  66 
Change Name to Lowercase  69 
Quote Attribute Value  73 
Fill In Omitted Attribute Value  76 
Replace Empty Tag with Empty-Element Tag  78 
Add End-tag  81 
Remove Overlap  85 
Convert Text to UTF-8  89 
Escape Less-Than Sign  91 
Escape Ampersand  93 
Escape Quotation Marks in Attribute Values  96 
Introduce an XHTML DOCTYPE Declaration  98 
Terminate Each Entity Reference  101 
Replace Imaginary Entity References  102 
Introduce a Root Element  103 
Introduce the XHTML Namespace  104 

Chapter 4  Validity  107 
Introduce a Transitional DOCTYPE Declaration  109 
Remove All Nonexistent Tags  111 
Add an alt Attribute  114 
Replace embed with object  117 
Introduce a Strict DOCTYPE Declaration  123 
Replace center with CSS  124 
Replace font with CSS  127 
Replace i with em or CSS  131 
Replace b with strong or CSS  134 
Replace the color Attribute with CSS  136 
Convert img Attributes to CSS  140 
Replace applet with object  142 
Replace Presentational Elements with CSS  146 
Nest Inline Elements inside Block Elements  149 

Chapter 5  Layout  155 
Replace Table Layouts  156 
Replace Frames with CSS Positions  170 
Move Content to the Front  180 
Mark Up Lists as Lists  184 
Replace blockquote/ul Indentation with CSS  187 
Replace Spacer GIFs  189 
Add an ID Attribute  191 
Add Width and Height to an Image  195 

Chapter 6 Accessibility  199 
Convert Images to Text  202 
Add Labels to Form Input  206 
Introduce Standard Field Names  210 
Turn on Autocomplete  216 
Add Tab Indexes to Forms  218 
Introduce Skip Navigation  222 
Add Internal Headings  225 
Move Unique Content to the Front of Links and Headlines  226 
Make the Input Field Bigger  228 
Introduce Table Descriptions  230 
Introduce Acronym Elements  235 
Introduce lang Attributes  236 

Chapter 7  Web Applications  241 
Replace Unsafe GET with POST  241 
Replace Safe POST with GET  246 
Redirect POST to GET  251 
Enable Caching  254 
Prevent Caching  258 
Introduce ETag  261 
Replace Flash with HTML  265 
Add Web Forms 2.0 Types  270 
Replace Contact Forms with mailto Links  277 
Block Robots  280 
Escape User Input  284 

Chapter 8 Content  287 
Correct Spelling  287 
Repair Broken Links  292 
Move a Page 298
Remove the Entry Page  302 
Hide E-mail Addresses  304 

Appendix A Regular Expressions  309 
Characters That Match Themselves  309 
Metacharacters  311 
Wildcards  312 
Quantifiers  313 

Index  327 


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